Zero Waste Events Creative Inquiry

Sonoco FRESH sponsored a Creative Inquiry (CI) during the 2021-2022 academic year on planning, implementing and assessing a Zero Waste event, specifically focusing on the football Game Day Recycling Challenge and the FRESH 2022 Food, Packaging & Sustainability Summit. Students were guided through multiple perspectives including Clemson University’s disciplines that address sustainability – from engineering to packaging, business and parks, recreation and tourism management – and campus solid waste management initiatives. The course included guidance from WM’s sports and entertainment team.

Game day Recycling Challenge at Clemson University

The GameDay Recycling Challenge (GDRC) is a nationwide competition among universities to reduce and recycle the waste generated at home football games. Each participating university chooses one home football game to track and report its recycling, food organics and trash data in pounds.

Creative Inquiry Students at Clemson Football Game
Creative Inquiry students at Clemson football game

The CI students served as Recycling Ambassadors during the Clemson vs. Florida State football game, where they directed fans to the correct bins to dispose of their waste and made observations on areas that were more likely to have greater volumes of waste. They then joined Clemson’s facilities staff over the next few days to sort waste collected from the game.

Clemson waste sort
Clemson CI students at Waste Sort
Clemson waste sort

FRESH Food, Packaging & Sustainability Summit

The Zero Waste Events CI introduced students to event planning basics then discussed how each step could adopt a zero waste strategy. The class organized into three teams: 

  • EcoStations / Data Collection / Training Materials
  • Signage / Decor / Other Materials
  • Marketing / Promotion

Although plans for an in-person event were postponed until September due to the pandemic and some of our students have graduated, you’ll see many of their strategies in action:

Clean River Bin 500x500

Students researched eco-stations and identified the best options. Some of the Summit eco-stations were donated, and the others were purchased with grants secured by the students. WM taught the class reporting and data collection methods that will be used to evaluate the Summit’s waste diversion rates.

Dinner sign 500x500

Recyclable or reusable options were selected for signage. All banners on display at the Summit will be reused, and all other signs were printed on recyclable materials. 

Whova app home page 500x500

The Whova event app minimizes printed materials. Attendees can view and personalize the Summit agenda as well as visit virtual exhibitor booths and download speaker presentations.

Summit decor utilizes fresh produce that will be donated after the event, student-designed packaging prototypes and designs from the graduate student Upcyclin’ Fashion Show.

Bowl with Sugar 500x500

Menus were designed to minimize waste (i.e. sugar served in bowls rather than individual packets) and also use locally-sourced products. Leftover food will be donated to local food pantries.

FRESH Summit student volunteer shirt

Student volunteers can be easily identified by wearing these bright green shirts. The graphics and text imprinted on the shirts intentionally left out a specific event or year so that they can be reused for future events. 

Peace lily

The plants used as stage decor were rented rather than purchased. Renting is not only the less expensive option, it allows the plants to lend their beauty to more than one audience!

Creative Inquiry Participants

Carolyn Kearns

Carolyn Kearns
Materials Science & Engineering, Recent Graduate

Carolyn is from Scottsdale, Arizona and graduated from Clemson in May 2022 as a materials science and engineering major. She is now a Material Industrialization Engineer with Michelin.

Cassidy Nosenzo
Biological Sciences, Recent Graduate

Cassidy graduated in May 2022 as a senior biological sciences major. She is now attending graduate school at Wake Forest University and hopes to work in the sustainability field as an analyst or a consultant. Helping companies reduce their carbon footprint while remaining an efficient business is very important to her!

Cassidy Nosenzo
Courtney Barrett, Clemson University

Courtney Barrett
Environmental & Natural Resources, Senior

Courtney is a senior Environmental and Natural Resources major with a concentration in Biological conservation from Columbia, SC. She is planning to pursue a master’s degree at Clemson University in Plant and Environmental Science, then wants to work in the field of sustainable agriculture and climate change. 

Emma Schmidt
Biological Sciences, Senior

Emma is a senior biology major from York, PA. After her time at Clemson, she is planning to go to dental school.

Emma Schmidt, Clemson University
Jill Lee, Clemson University

Jill Lee
Biosystems Engineering, Junior

Jill is a third-year Biosystems Engineering major and would love to develop bioplastics with agricultural waste in the future. She would also love to work with nonprofits to demand better environmental legislation.

Mary Werner
Packaging Science, Senior

Mary is a Senior Packaging Science major with a minor in sustainability from Fort Mill, South Carolina. After graduation, she hopes to play a part in the future of packaging by helping with research toward innovative and responsible packaging. She got involved in the Creative Inquiry to see Clemson’s work toward making the campus more sustainable and environmentally conscious!

Mary Werner, Clemson University
Sarah Jane Lynskey, Clemson University

Sarah Jane Lynskey
Packaging Science, Senior

Sarah Jane is a packaging science major with a business minor from just outside of Atlanta, Georgia! Through her studies of packaging and materials, she has developed a passion for sustainability, which has led her to the Summit Team. After graduation, she hopes to dive into the packaging industry focused on waste reduction and sustainable innovation.

Sarah Dumont
Packaging Science, Junior

Sarah is a junior packaging science major with an emphasis in food and health care packaging. She is also a member of Clemson’s Tiger Band and plays the alto saxophone. After graduation, she plans to work with companies focused on developing sustainable packaging.

Sarah Dumont, Clemson University
Sidney Schliesman, Clemson University

Sidney Schliesman
Environmental Natural Resources Economic Policy, Senior

Sidney is an Environmental Natural Resources Economic Policy major with a minor in Non-profit Leadership from Atlanta, GA. Her interests include Environmental Policy, art/design and gardening. She hopes to introduce policies to make America more sustainable and become a Georgia Senator!