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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sustainability Olympics changed gears this spring

Jen Pimentel
Coordinator of Sustainability Olympics, Idrian Mollaneda, tables for Sustainability Olympics registration on the UA Mall on Friday April 1.

The third annual Sustainability Olympics and Resource Fair took place on the UA Mall Friday afternoon, offering opportunities for students to learn about sustainability and play games.

The event, centered on a row of tables on the Mall, featured representatives from different sustainability organizations on campus, as well as different games.

This year’s event was similar in planning to previous events, according to Idrian Mollaneda, an Off-Campus Housing Sustainability intern who organized most of the event with his supervisors. There was a key difference, however, between this year and others: the Olympics part of the event was downplayed while the resource fair was expanded.

“There was an idea that popped up during one of our meetings that, in order for our turnout to increase, we should make this more like a resource fair for students, and that was just such a good idea not just for visibility, but for engagement with our students,” said Mollaneda, a sophomore studying political science and environmental studies. “I think the tabling has made this a much more attractive event that people will actually stop for.”

These tables allow students to learn more about sustainability at the UA, Mollaneda said. In order to further this education, there were signs with facts about sustainability set up along the side of the event where students could see them as they passed by, something Mollaneda referred to as passive education.

Even with this increase in tabling, the Olympic-style games still live on. The event featured waste sorting games, trivia and a pledge that students could sign. The games also provided another way for students to learn about sustainability. Tracey Till, a plant sciences senior who played a recycling matching game at the event, said that she learned some things through the game. She said that games like these could be educational especially if the person running the game is knowledgeable so the player can ask questions.

“It also makes you think about stuff in your daily life, like they have soda cans and peanut butter jars on there, you’re like ‘oh, what do I do with that?’” she said.

When students played the games, they could fill out a score card and turn it into the event’s sign-in desk in order to have a chance to win one of two raffle prizes provided by Waste Management.

Waste Management was one of the organizations tabling at the event, and educating students about proper recycling was one of its goals for the fair.

“One thing that I’ve been trying to reiterate is the importance of keeping the recycling stream clean to make sure that bottles and cans are empty before putting them into the recycling and also keeping food waste out,” Jill Burris, an employee in the public sector of Waste Management, said. “The saying ‘one apple ruins a bunch’ is very synonymous with recycling. If you have food waste mixed in with the recyclables, it can possibly contaminate the entire load.”

Tabling allows for more than just education on sustainability, it also allowed organizations to explain their work to students and show how students can get involved.

Clarisa Avalos, an environmental science sophomore and a compost technician for Compost Cats, said that her organization was tabling there in order to let people know about their sustainability efforts.

“We do a lot of tabling events, but I think the ones on campus are really important because it kind of gets the students aware what we’re doing for them and what their school is doing for the community and for the world,” she said. “There’s been a lot of people that kind of didn’t know we existed, and they’ve been really impressed with all our efforts and all of the things we’re doing around campus and around Tucson.”

Christina Petsas, a senior studying communications, Spanish and Portuguese and the project manager for Green Guides at the Institute of Environment, said that there were opportunities for internships and jobs for students with her organization.

“I think a lot of students don’t realize that there’s a lot of different ways that they can get involved and that it’s a pretty prevalent thing on our campus,” she said. “I really hope that we’re getting through to students and that they see that they can get involved and how important it is.”

With all of these organizations involved, Mollaneda said he is happy with the turnout of the event. He added that when students attend events like the Sustainability Olympics, he thinks it increases awareness of sustainability in students.

“I believe any opportunity for students to engage with sustainability, especially as it’s relevant to the UA campus, is an effective way of raising awareness for sustainability just in general,” he said.

Follow Ava Garcia on Twitter.

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