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The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns defeated the Georgia State Panthers in October, but fans at Cajun Field chalked up another noteworthy victory that night.

By recycling, the crowd put the University of Louisiana at Lafayette among the top 10 schools in the nation that prevented large amounts of trash produced during  home games from being buried in landfills.

UL Lafayette, along with 90 other schools across the country, competed in the collegiate GameDay Recycling Challenge. For the Georgia State game, Cajuns fans diverted 65.5 percent of trash at Cajun Field to be recycled.

“Making it to the top 10 in the national diversion category was a tremendous showing, especially since this was the first time UL Lafayette competed in the Challenge,” said Gretchen Vanicor, director of Sustainability at UL Lafayette.

Humboldt State University was No. 1. Its fans sent 86 percent of trash at a home game to be recycled instead of a landfill.

The Gameday Challenge, part of the University’s Zero Waste initiative, was a way to draw attention to higher education’s efforts to protect and preserve natural resources that help keep an ecological balance.

The University has taken a calculated and comprehensive approach to protecting the environment that’s rooted in a campus sustainability policy adopted in late October last year.

“The adoption of a policy doesn’t make the headlines. But this policy will help UL Lafayette become more environmentally, socially and economically responsible,” Vanicor said.

It covers areas such as facilities, transportation, campus waste, purchasing, and curriculum. It calls for the creation of short-term and long-term goals.

The University is committed to reducing its ecological “footprint” when constructing new facilities and improving existing ones, for instance. The expanded and extensively renovated Student Union that opened this month will be the first building on campus to earn certification by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is a voluntary, internationally recognized green building program.

The policy also states that the net total of trees on campus will be maintained throughout expansion and remodeling.

The sustainability policy sets a goal of “balancing environmentally and fiscally responsible purchasing choices” by considering life cycle costs, source material and disposal issues, and environmental impacts of its purchasing policies.

University food services will reduce the use of disposable plates and utensils and eliminating all Styrofoam products. “Food services will also source more local and organic food. A Recovery Food Network will bring leftover food to establishments that serve the poor,” Vanicor said.

“In working to achieve our sustainability goals we’ll use our campus and region as a living-laboratory to inform and inspire our students, faculty, staff and community to create positive, systemic changes for a more sustainable future."
 

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