Never let anyone tell you something can't be done.
Ohio State University achieved its goal of going zero waste at its Ohio Stadium – diverting a record 98.2% of its total generated waste from the landfill during a Nov. 3 matchup against the University of Illinois. Total attendance was 105,311.
The previous home game on Oct. 20 against Purdue University saw a 94.4% diversion rate. That's everything from food scraps to compostable packaging to recyclables.
It was a little more than one year ago when I visited OSU and Ohio Stadium. I was there covering the Buckeyes' lofty goal of achieving zero waste during Saturday football home games at the "Horseshoe." Closest it came last year was 82.4%.
People were skeptical. After all, such a feat had never been accomplished before. Sure, the University of Colorado was the first major collegiate stadium to attempt zero waste at its Folsom Field a few years ago. But the Buffaloes' stadium seats only 52,000.
And, yes, the University of California Davis was the first to even launch a zero waste program at an athletic stadium in 2007 at its Aggie Stadium. But that only seats a little more than 10,000 fans.
What Corey Hawkey, program coordinator for OSU´s energy services and sustainability office, and his team have accomplished is nothing short of amazing.
They have found a way to get everyone (or as close to everyone), from fans to concessionaires to those collecting the waste, on board with the zero waste mantra.
"I´ve developed an understanding of the magnitude of what we´re doing -- both operationally and globally," Hawkey told me last season. "Operationally, I´ve come to understand how complicated it is to do such a project. I´ve learned how important the leadership is. I´ve learned that it´s literally thousands of people that are required to have buy-in in order to be successful."
For that, even I'll sing "Hang On Sloopy."