We’ll Make it Happen

This presentation will be a specific outline of the order and reason in which meticulous steps, with regard to defined objectives, were taken to move UMaine’s football diversion rate from 0% to 47.5% in roughly five months. Lots of universities and colleges have had difficulty in getting a program like this off the ground, in such a short time frame. I would attribute our success at Maine to three things, having a dedicated spearhead (or someone with the time to focus on this challenge specifically), thorough design of the outcomes we wished to achieve both short term and longer term, (in part to avoid shortcomings of long ago attempts), and probably most importantly, a pervasive persistence even when it felt that we hit a wall at every turn. At each step of the way it was integral to communicate what this would do for the various departments in which we were collaborating with. For Resource Recovery we helped their goal of recycling more and sending less to a landfill, (if only by a little bit). We showed the Athletics Grounds Crew that we could decrease the amount of time they spend picking up trash that overflowed from garbage cans and overall make their management happier when the discarded resources from a game didn’t create an unsightly mess. We showed our commercial partners that a lasting relationship was possible and that it would increase their outreach and hopefully, even if minimally, help their bottom dollar. Finally, we showed ourselves (each person at UMaine who makes the game day experience what it is and what we hope it to be), that sustainability could not only be something we are good at, but something that adds to the pride in being a part of Black Bear Nation.

Specific Outcomes:

  • Achieved peak diversion rate of 45% in roughly five months from the introduction of the challenge to various
    constituents on the UMaine campus
  • Integral departments were persuaded to try this challenge and each achieved buy-in at several different
    levels within the departments/organizations involved, that will help to ensure that this program itself

    • Ex. 1) Our resource department who at the outset, was at best, skeptical of even being able to
      weigh our packer trucks let alone pulling off a diversion rate comparable or higher than our full
      campus totals, was by midway through, bought in, as well as showed outright support and
      excitement around our results
    • Ex. 2) Convincing our athletic grounds crew to allow me to run a team of volunteers and to change
      a few of the aspects of game day layout, which at first was a concern to the fan experience; to
      achieving a level of integration in which they were taking their own coordinated initiatives to
      increase diversion without any prompting at all and fans loved it

Presenter: Olivia Gambocarto, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator, University of Maine Office of Sustainability