Five Ways Teams Go Green (and Fans Don’t Always Know It)

Tom Carpenter, Director of Sustainability Services, Waste Management
Jul 22, 2014 2:00 PM ET

Thinking Green

From the tailgate, to the start of a game, to the mad dash out the parking lot, fans (especially “die-hards”) are familiar with the rituals of seeing their favorite team in action. It’s really a big celebration when you think about it. After all, where else do you see so many beverages, food and face paint than at a party?

With all the fanfare, though, comes “waste” – and a lot of it. Whether it’s bottles and cans, hotdog wrappers and napkins, popcorn and peanuts shells – “waste” is everywhere. I put “waste” in quotes, because it’s really not. The items we traditionally think of as waste, or garbage, are actually opportunities for reuse and recycling. And while you may not notice it when the game is on, many of the most familiar teams in all of sports are doing a lot to go green for their fans and for the environment.

If you’ve ever been to a game, take a minute to think about your experience – from the moment you parked to when you sat down. Below are the top five ways stadiums can green our favorite pastimes.

1.The Parking lot. While it’s basically a flat piece of asphalt, there’s still opportunity to go green. For example, stadiums can encourage green vehicles by offering reserved parking for fans with hybrids, while other fans can be incentivized with discounted tickets to ride bikes to the game or take public transportation.

2.Main Entrance. When you walk into a sports venue – with an e-ticket or one printed on 100% recycled paper, imagine passing a zero waste station that’s staffed with a volunteer who can answer questions, sort waste into the correct bins and communicate the venue’s green goals.

3.Concessions. This is where the magic happens, since concessions are where recycling and composting take hold! Everything that a fan touches can go into two bins - Recycle or Compost - while creative signs communicate this information. In addition, when food is not sold during a game, why not donate it to charity instead of throwing it away?

4.Bathrooms. Aerators on faucets and low flow toilets conserve water, while toilet paper can be made from 100% recycled content. And, of course, what would a green bathroom be without waste-reducing, high-powered hand dryers?

5.Stadium-wide. When it comes to energy efficiency, it doesn’t just mean powering the entire facility with renewable energy (although that’s certainly a big part). It also means powering those leaderboards and mega-screens with LED bulbs, installing motion detector lighting in suites and offices, and even incorporating new technology, like energy efficient cardboard balers, which also allow you to recycle more.

Those are just a few ways sports teams can go green, although there is certainly plenty more. So, next time you’re at a game, see if you can spot them.

Now…time for kickoff!