“For us, zero waste makes perfect sense. We’re an athletic club, we’re focused on health and well-being, which starts with ourselves and extends to the world around us. We’re also a community-based club, we practice and hold our events at our local municipal pool. This initiative is one way we can lead by example, be a positive role model, be more socially responsible, and improve the health of ourselves and our surroundings by reducing our environmental impact on this community we’re a part of.”
– Erik Genermann, Club President
It’s an approach to examining the waste our organization creates and re-thinking all the materials we “need” to purchase, use, and then throw away. The goal is to reduce our waste to as close to zero as possible, so as much as possible is diverted from our local landfill.
By finding new and creative ways to prevent waste before it’s created – this is key. For the waste we can’t avoid, we’ve tightened up our recycling practices so that everything that can be recycled, is recycled. We also compost plant-based food scraps and compostable paper products from our concessions. At our events, we’ve added staffed “zero waste stations” where volunteers help our members and guests to recycle or compost their waste items, and get answers to their questions. With this educational element, we help others become emboldened to double down on their own sustainability efforts at home.
In 2017 our cub had a landfill diversion rate between 65 and 70%. In other words, of all the waste created at our three home swim meets and the All City Dive meet, we found a way to keep almost 70% of it out of our local landfill. At home meets our rate was even higher, about 74% by weight. By volume this equates to less than one bag of trash for every 200 people.
We’re very proud to have hosted the first Zero Waste All City Dive meet in league history, and this year we’ll do the same at All City Swim… and we invite all teams in the league to join us.
- Before the 2017 regular swim season, our board agreed to have our concessions team take all our existing, unused Styrofoam bowls, cups and plates in our inventory to a local recycling program, and purchase compostable alternatives to use from that point forward.
- A Zero Waste Coordinator was appointed and we called for volunteers to be part of our newly formed Green Team.
- We partnered with Winnequah Elementary school to help start a composting program for the Children’s Garden. In return, they provide a drop-off site for our compostable plant-based food waste and paper products from our events.
- We introduced zero waste stations at our home swim meets and began measuring the waste we created to get a baseline on our landfill diversion rate.
- We partnered with Brat Fest – the area’s largest zero waste event – whose organizers lent us their expertise, lessons learned and banners for our ZW stations.
- We reached out to our food vendors and sponsors who bring food to our events, and educated them about our ZW efforts, our “no Styrofoam” policy and asked for their help in reducing other non-recyclable or non-compostable materials brought to or events.
- We challenged the way we’d done things in the past, bringing a ZW mindset to our social events. Our annual ice cream social now has cones instead of sundaes. The kids don’t mind the difference, there’s less to coordinate, less to purchase, less to clean up, there are no thrownaway bowls, spoons, or half-full bottles of chocolate sauce and sprinkles, it’s easier to clean up … and everything is eaten, recycled, or taken home after the event is over = true zero waste.
- For the 2017 All City Dive meet, we printed NO paper programs, all information was available on-line instead.
- We’ve helped raise money for Winnequah schools by recycling chip bags and granola bar wrappers through their TerraCycle program, which has now raised over $2,000 dollars for our kids.
- We’ve helped educate our club members and event guests and raised awareness about the little things each of us can do every day to pitch in and help reduce our environmental impact on our community.
Here are a few things to expect at the 2018 zero waste All City Swim
- No printed programs or full-length heat sheets – instead, all meet materials – the full program, full heat sheets, race feed information, even alerts for swimmer calls to clerk of course – are all available through our All City Swim App. Download here for FREE. A limited number of no-frills heat sheets will be available for purchase.
- Less bottled water. We’ve partnered with the CIty of Monona to create the first water bottle refill station, delivering premium water without waste. Please bring your own water bottle and refill it as often as you’d like – on us. If you forget your water bottle, recyclable, souvenir water bottles will be available for purchase. Limited supplies of bottled water will also be available. Meet officials and deck volunteers will be kept well hydrated and healthy; our brigade of “water runners” will make sure you have plenty of cold, refreshing water by your side at all times.
- No Styrofoam. We’re working hard to keep our events free of Styrofoam and we ask for your help. As always, please feel free to bring snacks, food, drinks from home, but when you do, please consider alternatives to Styrofoam packaging since it is not recyclable, not compostable and does not biodegrade in our local landfill. Choose items that can be taken home and re-used, packaging that is recyclable or compostable, or no packaging at all.
- Zero Waste Stations will be available throughout the event grounds, where volunteers will help you to recycle or compost your waste items instead of throwing them away. Through supplemental recycling programs in Monona, we’ll also collect chip bags, granola bar wrappers and soft plastic bags and wrap. Traditional garbage bins will be available throughout the event grounds, but if you can walk just a few more steps and bring those items to one of our ZW stations instead , we’d be very appreciative.
- What can be recycled? Clean, empty paper, plastic, metal and glass containers. At a food event “clean and empty” can present challenges, so composting is needed to fill the void.
What can be composted? Food-soiled, wax-free paper and any plant-based food waste like fruits, vegetables, grains.
On breaking old habits … “It’s not hard to do, you just have to be a little more intentional at times when you might not be used to being intentional.” – Mary Schoenherr, Club Parent, Social Event Organizer
On moving from paper to digital programs.. “You could argue that now we’ll have to pay someone to maintain a website or build an app, but then again, we’re not wasting all that paper and trees. At some point you just have to ask yourself ‘why are we doing this?’.” – Phil McDade, Board Member, All City Swim Organizer
On a job well done… “Thank you for your great work hosting the All City Dive Meet in Monona. I was particularly pleased to note that it was a Zero-Waste event, something I wish was more broadly adopted for public and private events.” – Mark Miller, Wisconsin State Senator and Monona Resident