Along with NIU red and black, Hayley Wegrzyn hopes tailgaters at Huskie home football games are seeing green thanks to an aluminum can recycling initiative that kicked off this semester.
“We as a university should be building a community and a culture of individuals who are concerned about the environment,” Wegrzyn, Student Association director of environmental affairs, said. “This affects all of us; we are making the waste so we need to take it upon ourselves to figure it out.”
With the help of assistant director for NIU’s outdoor adventures, Christine Lagattolla, Wegrzyn piloted the #GoGreenNIU initiative to recycle aluminum cans at the President’s Picnic in August.
“It was a volunteer effort and we wanted to see how it would go,” Lagattolla said. “For the initial trial, I think it was a success and people were very supportive.”
About 50 white cardboard recycling bins were donated through a collaboration with NIU Dining and PepsiCo. A week later, Lagattolla and Wegrzyn tried out the bins at the Huskie’s first football tailgate and it was another victory.
Following the game, about 97 pounds of aluminum were delivered to local recycler DeKalb Iron and Metal (DIMCO) who paid an additional $.05 per pound for the effort. Wegrzyn said she will continue to collect the funds generated by the cans and they’ll most likely be used for future green initiatives.
“The money isn’t the most important thing but it’s the fact that we are taking action,” Wegrzyn said. “We are letting people know that NIU recycles at tailgates. We are working on changing the culture.”
Lagattolla said the students are taking the lead on this initiative and she has been impressed with how Huskies have responded so far.
“Students are stepping up and breaking the barrier,” Lagattolla said. “This is just another way of showing people that their actions matter.”