For us, zero waste makes perfect sense. We’re an athletic club, we’re focused on health and well-being, which starts with ourselves and extends to the world around us. We’re also a community-based club, we practice and hold our events at our local municipal pool. This initiative is one way we can lead by example, be a positive role model, be more socially responsible, and improve the health of ourselves and our surroundings by reducing our environmental impact on this community we’re a part of.”  

- Erik Gennerman, Club Past President

What’s a Zero Waste initiative?

It’s an approach to examining the waste our organization creates and re-thinking our purchasing, use and disposal habits. First, we prevent waste whenever possible. For what we cannot prevent, we recycle and compost as much as possible so as little as possible is sent to our local landfill, with zero being our goal.  

How Can You Help?
  • Prevent waste before it happens. Feel free to bring snacks to MO events, but consider packaging that can be taken home and re-used. Choose disposable packaging that’s recyclable or compostable packaging—or no packaging at all!
  • Avoid Styrofoam since it’s not recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable.
  • When available, bring waste items to Zero Waste station(s) to ensure items are recycled or composted. Additional recycling services are available at stations.
  • Volunteer to staff our Zero Waste station at home swim meets. No expertise is needed; all on-the-job training will be provided. We always need help setting up, staffing, and taking down.
  • Learn what can be recycled - clean paper, empty plastic, metal, and glass containers. At stations, we can also recycle granola/energy bar wrappers, chip bags, soft plastic bags and wrap.
  • Learn what can be composted - plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, products made from grain as well as paper products that are free of bleach and wax.

 What Have We Accomplished So Far?

In 2017 our club began our Zero Waste Initiative. Since then we’ve...

  • Recycled all our unused Styrofoam bowls, cups and plates from our concessions inventory and purchased compostable alternatives to use from that point forward.
  • Created zero waste guidelines for food vendors and sponsors and asked them to help in this initiative by refraining from brining Styrofoam into our events and using compostable or recyclable materials.
  • Added a Zero Waste Coordinator to our volunteer ranks.
  • Sought out the help from our friends at Brat Fest, the area’s largest zero waste event, whose organizers generously shared their experience, recommendations, and resources.
  • Tightened up our recycling practices and began composting by introducing Zero Waste stations at our home swim meets and events, staffed with volunteers to answer guest questions.
  • Partnered with Winnequah Elementary School and helped start a composting program for the Children’s Garden. They in turn provide a drop-off site for our compostable items.
  • Helped raise money for Winnequah School by recycling chip bags and granola bar wrappers through their TerraCycle program, which has now raised over $2,000 dollars for our kids.
  • Printed no paper programs at All-City Dive 2017, making this information available instead online.
  • Achieved a landfill diversion rate between 65% and 70%. In other words, of all the waste created at our home swim meets and All-City Dive 2017, we found a way to keep almost 70% of it out of our local landfill. At home meets we averaged less than one bag of trash for every 200 people. This does not include waste we prevented.

In 2018 - we also…   

  • Worked to reduce plastic water bottle waste by partnering with the CIty of Monona Water Utility and Monona Parks and Rec to create the city’s first water bottle refill station. The station will be used at Monona community events and is making its debut at All-City Swim.
  • Created the first All-City Swim app to deliver all meet materials digitally, saving paper and trees.
  • Worked with MGE, an All-City Swim sponsor, to provide all power for the 2018 event from renewable energy sources like wind and solar through MGE’s Green Power Tomorrow program.
  • Continued to help educate and raise awareness about the little things each of us can do every day to pitch in and help reduce our environmental impact on our community.  

What People are Saying

  • On breaking old habits … “It’s not hard to do, you just have to be a little more intentional at times when you might not be used to being intentional.”    - Mary Schoenherr, Social Event Organizer
  • On moving from paper to digital programs..  “You could argue  that now we’ll have to pay someone to maintain a website or build an app, but then again, we’re not wasting all that paper and trees. At some point you just have to ask yourself ‘why are we doing this?’.”    - Phil McDade, Board Member
  • On a job well done…   “Thank you for your great work hosting the All City Dive Meet in Monona. I was particularly pleased to note that it was a Zero-Waste event, something I wish was more broadly adopted for public and private events.”    - Mark Miller, Wisconsin State Senator and Monona Resident