Gone are the days when the groundskeeper at Frost-Kalnow Stadium has to use a tractor to push down the trash in a Dumpster because it is full of plastic bottles after a football game.
Thanks to the efforts of students at Columbian High School and Tiffin University, Walt Szablewski also doesn't have climb in the Dumpster himself to compact the trash.
"That bottle takes up so much room. ... They're all air," he said.
About three years ago, Rachel Briggs, a substitute teacher at Columbian, and her children started cleaning bottles from the stadium after games, and Szablewski helped.
"We just started doing it after the games. ... They pick up all the plastic," he said.
The following year, a TU group also helped clean up after games, and more teams got involved this year. Columbian students started helping last year, Szablewski said.
The bottles are recycled after they are collected.
"(Columbian) really does a good job (recycling)," he said.
Szablewski said early in the season, students collected more than 1,000 bottles that filled 15 garbage bags, which equals about a Dumpster of trash. The effort has cut down on half of the trash that goes to the landfill, he said.
"I was just amazed," he said.
Savannah Stark, a Columbian senior, recruits students to help with the effort through TC Crew, an organization at Columbian.
"We had about 10 people last year, and then this year, we've kind of grown to maybe 20 (students who help)," she said.
Stark said she used to get frustrated that people wouldn't care and would throw bottles on the ground. She said it was frustrating because recycling bins would be next to trash cans, and students would find bottles in the trash can. There would be more bottles in the trash can than there would be in the recycling bin, she said.
Stark said the group had its first announcement to remind people to recycle during the homecoming game.
"The bottles were not as bad after that," she said.
Sometimes, the stadium is used for a college game Saturday afternoon and a high school game that evening. Szablewski said he doesn't have the manpower to sort out the plastic, but he tries to do it when he has time.
It doesn't take any of the groups long to collect the bottles, he said.
"They make such a difference. ... It's a good lesson for them, I think," he said.
Szablewski said the students have fun with the project.
"The kids are doing a good thing. ... It's pretty neat," he said.
Stark said her grandparents taught her a lot about the environment, and when she was 3 years old, she wanted to jump in and play with whales when she was participating in a whale watch.
"I've always just kind of really cared about the environment," she said.