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Football games at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, bring thousands of fans to campus to cheer on the Vols — and with them, thousands of pounds of food and beverage consumption. During the 2023 football season, Zero Waste Game Day, an initiative of UT’s Office of Sustainability, collected 139,250 pounds of recyclables, composted 11,000 pounds of food and donated 37,580 pounds of food to local food banks, diverting over 184 tons of waste from local landfills.

Fifty-eight students volunteered throughout the season, stationed in and around Neyland Stadium to collect recycling at tailgates, monitor bins outside the stadium and help fans recycle. Donated food went to local food banks including Second Harvest and the UT Culinary Institute, which makes ready-to-heat meals for Big Orange Pantry.

Conducted in partnership with UT Athletics, Aramark and Eastman’s “Good Sports Always Give Back” program, Zero Waste Game Day integrates fan experience, student leadership and community engagement to promote a cleaner and more sustainable campus.

Interested volunteers are encouraged to visit ServeUTK to learn more about Zero Waste Game Day and the Office of Sustainability’s other service opportunities.


Maggie Palmer (865-974-3993,