Go Green for Big Red Diverts Pounds from the Landfill on Game Days

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
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Tailgaters at Husker Game use green bags to recycle
Tailgaters at Husker Game use green bags to recycle

Every week, there’s a wave of green that contrasts the red surrounding the stadium on game days. While most fans are getting ready to help cheer on their Huskers, a group of volunteers help Lincoln in another way with Go Green for Big Red.

Every home game, volunteers for the program go around to tailgates and hand out green recycling bags while encouraging fans to recycle. The program was started in 2009 and has since diverted thousands of pounds from the landfill every game.

Volunteers meet two hours before a game at the Outdoor Adventure Center and get a water bottle and t-shirt. They then get routes to run around the stadium. They hand out the bags, talk about recycling, and still are able to go to the game. Parking lot attendants pick up the filled bags later.

For Brent Johannes, the recycling coordinator, said Go Green for Big Red is about the community. “It’s a good way to spread positive energy about recycling and a community building effort,” he said. “It makes you passionate about your community.”

Johannes said that the program has been pretty well received by the tailgaters and has had a great impact. Not only do volunteers hand out the bags, but they talk to the fans and tell them why recycling is important to them.

“It’s the most powerful thing to go to another human and show them that recycling is something you care about,” he said. “It has an impact on people because it causes them to think twice.”

Go Green for Big Red was started by Prabhakar Shrestha as an undergrad when he realized so many recyclables were going to the landfill. He said the program has become a bit more strategic since then with how they distribute the bags because they value the volunteer’s time. Shrestha estimated the program to have at least 25,000 hours of volunteering and 500 volunteers over the last nine years.

He said the program is an organic initiative that completely depends on volunteers. If it continues to be successful, it will be because of the volunteers. The program is looking for anyone who needs community service hours, wants to become greener, or a group looking to collaborate.

To sign up for Go Green for Big Red, email recycling@unl.edu.