The University of Mississippi’s colors may be red, white and blue, but don’t be surprised if you see students in the Grove on game days wearing green.
If you’ve met anyone involved in the Oxford community, whether they reside in Oxford or they attend the University of Mississippi, you know that Oxford is proud of its beauty.
Grace Haines and the Office of Campus Sustainability are doing everything possible to preserve the beauty of the University of Mississippi.
Haines, of Bryan, Texas, is a senior double-majoring in international studies and French, working as the game day coordinator intern in the Office of Campus Sustainability for her second year.
The Office of Campus Sustainability established the Green Grove Initiative during the fall 2008 football season in anticipation of accomplishing an efficient and low-cost process of recycling during Ole Miss football games.
As game day coordinator for the Green Grove Initiative, it is Haines’ job to make sure that the Green Grove tent is set up in the Union Plaza with recycling bags for volunteers to put recyclables in. She also helps provide T-shirts for volunteers, set up recycling bins around the Grove in convenient locations, pick up recyclables off of the ground and ensure that each volunteer is filling each bag with recyclables.
“The Grove is one of the biggest and most recognized tailgates in the nation,” said Haines. “Not only does the Green Grove Initiative make landscape (workers’) job easier, but it is also promoting the importance of recycling in Oxford as a whole and helping keep the Grove beautiful for more game days to come.”
During Ole Miss football games hosted at home, student volunteers are asked to meet in the Union Plaza. They are given a large bag to fill with cans, paper products to recycle and a Green Grove shirt to wear while they pick up recyclables.
Students also set up recycle bins near trashcans so that “Grovers” will throw their cans or cups into the recycling bag rather than the trash bag.
In the 2013 Ole Miss football season, the Green Grove Initiative collected 498 tons of waste, and more students are signing up to volunteer.
“The most amount of recyclables I’ve seen in the Grove was when Ole Miss played Alabama and College GameDay came to the Grove,” said Haines. “The recycling bins were overflowing, and we were picking up cans and cups off of the ground.”
More people are beginning to attend Ole Miss football games since Ole Miss and the Grove have been receiving more recognition for their undefeated football team.
Since there is an increase of people visiting the Grove on game days, it only means that Haines’ job will become more difficult to execute efficiently.
According to Haines, there are more than 100 volunteers who volunteer on game days. Not only do these volunteers help pass out bags to “grovers,” but some come back to help sort through the bags the following week.
“Grace has sorted through more than 100 tons of waste after game days,” says Jillian Cowart, a Green Grove Initiative volunteer. “It is fun volunteering with her because you can tell that she truly cares about sustaining Mississippi’s environment.”
Haines is a member of the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.
Click here to learn more about the Office of Campus Sustainability and the Green Grove Initiative.