January 12, 2017

Buckeyes Host First Zero Waste Invitational


Jan. 12, 2017


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COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the first time in school history the Ohio State Synchronized Swim team is set to host a zero waste event. That event is the season-opening OSU Zero Waste Invitational at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion on Saturday.

The technical events will begin at 10 a.m. and will be followed by solo, duet and trio routines beginning at 2 p.m. In addition to the Buckeyes, athletes from Miami (Ohio), Michigan and Wright State will also be competing.

As a university, Ohio State has embarked on a campus wide effort to go zero waste by 2025. One of the first steps taken by the athletic department was to go zero waste at all home football game which meant diverting at least 90 percent of material from the landfill to either recycling or compost. Through one synchronized swim team member’s efforts, that same process will now play out at every event inside McCorkle this spring.

Tori Baron, an environment, economy, development and sustainability major, took her idea directly to Director of Athletics Gene Smith. With his help, and the help of others within the athletic department, Baron was able to secure McCorkle’s first zero waste event.

“I went to an AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) conference last year and everyone was asking me about our process for zero waste at our football games. They thought it was tremendous that we were able to do that at such a big event. So I thought why can’t we do this at our meets this year? I asked Gene Smith at a meeting and he connected me with Mike Penner (Senior Associate AD for Internal Operations) and Graham Oberly (Sustainability Coordinator for Athletics) and with their help, we were able to get this going.”

“With being a student-athlete and asking to do something this big, I thought it was going to be a struggle,” Baron continued. “But I’m so thankful that everyone who has helped us throughout the process has been so enthusiastic and really wanting this to work. Graham Oberly has really played a huge role in getting this event together.”

What will fans notice differently this year than in years past? McCorkle will get six new zero waste bins which are separated into three compartments for recycling, compost and landfill. The food supplied to the teams and judges as well as food at the concession stands will be served on compostable materials and signage will be in place throughout the building directing fans where to recycle their trash. Volunteers will also be on hand at the bins helping fans determine what is or what is not recyclable.

“I think most people have good intentions when it comes to recycling but when they get to the bin, they really don’t know what goes where,” Baron said. “Most times, they throw the majority of their stuff in the recycling bin and assume it will get sorted along the way. The problem with that is if more than 10 percent of what’s put in the bin is non-recyclable, then the entire bin is thrown out to the landfill. So the goal this year is to obviously go zero waste during the meets here at McCorkle but to also help educate people when they are recycling on their own.”

Most of the Ohio State team will be competing in the technical events during the morning and then the following athletes will be performing their routines for the first time in 2017.

Solo competition

Emma Baranski


Duet competition

Baranski & Elziabeth Davidson

Lorraine Hack & Monica Velazquez-Stiak

Jasmine Pulido & Wenjing Deng

Phoebe Coffin & Lizzie Walsh

Noelle St. John & Stephanie Thielemann 


Trio competition

Baranski, Davidson & Morgan Boneberg

Hack, Velazquez-Stiak & Alyssa Hoying


The Buckeyes will also host the Jessica Beck Memorial Meet on Feb. 4, which will be the first time the Buckeyes will showcase their team routines this season. In addition to that meet, OSU will host the U.S Collegiate North Region Championships on March 4 and the U.S. Collegiate National Championships on March 23-25.