Tailgaters at the State Fairgrounds parking lot are being encouraged to keep it clean this football season.
And Keep the Midlands Beautiful is going to help them.
The organization is kicking off a new tailgate recycling program Saturday, when USC meets Florida Atlantic in the home opener.
The recycling will be for plastics and aluminum only.
Heidi Johnson, executive director of Keep the Midlands Beautiful, answered questions about the program.
What gave you the idea to do a program targeted at tailgaters?
We had heard about other schools with recycling efforts for tailgaters, especially at Georgia Southern and their Keep America Beautiful affiliate down there. So we thought, let's make a few phone calls and see if we can make this happen at USC. The athletic department takes care of cleanup inside the stadium with bins for plastics and mostly is focused on post-game clean up."
How will the program work?
On Saturday, we'll have 11 or so volunteers wearing Keep the Midlands Beautiful T-shirts out at the State Fairgrounds during the peak tailgating hours of 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Most of their effort will be focused on handing out plastic bags to tailgaters so that they can recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans. For safety reasons, we won't be accepting any glass.
A second shift of volunteers will collect the bags from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and deposit them into the trailer provided by Sonoco Recycling.
Who can volunteer?
We're really focusing our volunteer efforts on the students of the university, particularly student organizations. We really feel like if students care about recycling and how their university looks, then the organizations will volunteer. We're accepting individual students as well. Otherwise, we are working with some church and corporate volunteer groups for the next home games.
Volunteers have to be at least 18 years old. Those who do volunteer will receive a Keeping the Midlands Beautiful T-shirt and water bottle. And those who (are planning) to go to the game will be able to before kick off.
What makes this program possible?
We've worked closely with the athletic department and the State Fair ... . And we're really thankful for our great sponsors. Anheuser-Busch Recycling Corp. provided the recycling bags, and Sonoco is providing the trailer in which all of the bags will be placed and then hauled away.
When are volunteers needed next?
The only weeks we don't need volunteers will be for the Sept. 24 game, because it is on Thursday night, and the Oct. 24 game, because the State Fair will be in town. In particular, we're still looking for volunteers for Oct. 3 and 10, and Nov. 28.
HOW TO VOLUNTEER
Call Heidi Johnson at (803) 733-2526.