By Araceli Peña, Intern at the Climate Change Leadership Institute
CCLI interns Ren and Tei Long shown here composting at Isotopes Park with the support of the police. Photo courtesy of Robb Hirsch.
How could a soccer game possibly be eco friendly when it comes to the relationship between fans and food? Well, allow me to help provide an example that is out of the box, but ironically inside a compost bin.
I’m an intern working with the Climate Change Leadership Institute or “CCLI” for short. CCLI is a non profit organization based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. CCLI has recently partnered with the NM United Soccer team in order to help reduce food waste by starting a composting project. This project allows for fans to compost any food that might not have gotten finished most likely due to the suspenseful moments of the big game. With all the great vendors at the stadium it’s common for larger portions to be served that fans can’t always finish. That’s where we come in. We take care of the food waste by putting it to good use.
Fans at Isotope Park. Photos by I. Jenniches CC BY 2.0
Here’s how the program works: myself and another intern drive over to the Isotopes stadium, where the games take place—typically Wednesdays and Saturdays (make sure you buy those tickets and check it out). We then set up our stations which consist of a green compost bin, a recycling bin, and a trash can. By having all three together it’s extremely helpful in separating the three types of waste.
We then “man,” or in my case “woman,” the stations throughout the game and help direct fans on where to discard of their items. Towards the end of the night we move these stations close to the exit, hoping to catch fan’s recycling and compostables on their way out.
We then search the stands for food scraps. This is typically where we find most of our compost. Once we collect our load we put the buckets away and move the bins outside. After that we wait for our partner “The Little Green Bucket.” The Little Green Bucket is a community compost collection service located in Albuquerque, Los Ranchos, Corrales, Rio Rancho, and South Valley. For more information visit https://littlegreenbucket.com and become a member of this residential service.
You might be wondering why this program matters. What is so great about composting anyways? Well, for starters, by composting food waste emissions of methane are reduced a significant amount as well as other greenhouse gasses. Compost also improves soil health a great deal. The organic matter improves nutrients as well as the overall moisture of the soil. Along with these examples there are so many benefits to composting food waste.
Composting is definitely worth taking that extra step and improving our environment. Since this program is very new, people are skeptical of composting and in most cases unaware of the benefits that come along with it. Our job as interns is to help get the word out about why this matters and how it can help my generation and the generations after me.
Participation was very limited at first, but as we kept showing up at each game we gained more participation little by little. Each game our load grows more and more. There’s even an announcement that plays to let fans know about our project. Each day we set a goal to get more food waste than the last game.
I frequently get asked why I help out with this project, the most popular question being, “what’s in it for you?” The reason why I am an intern with CCLI and why I don’t mind taking a few hours out of my days to help educate my peers about compost is because it matters. The way we take care of our Earth directly impacts us all, whether we realize it or not. As an environmental science major, not only am I interested in logistics, but also ways we can make a difference in our world through the activist side.
NM United Compost Station in action. Photo courtesy of Robb Hirsch.
I started as an intern for CCLI in my senior year back in 2021- 2022. My mentor Robb Hirsch, who is the executive director and founder of the Climate Change Leadership Institute has inspired me to get involved and make a difference within my own community. He is really the backbone of our operation and the reason we are able to run this great program. It’s a pleasure that I am able to be a part of this program that hopefully will grow with each soccer season and soon be a normal part of every game in future seasons and other sports as well.
It may not be the most glamorous thing in the entire world, as you can imagine, but it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make in order to make a difference in our world. In order to learn more about The Climate Change Leadership Institute visit http://www.takeresponsibility.us/
Robb Hirsch, executive director of CCLI and co-founder of the NM Healthy Soil Working Group
shown here at the NM United composting station. Photo courtesy of Robb Hirsch.