Reducing Sports-Related Waste

by Emily Miller

Football games, and sporting events in general, are notorious for their waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 50-100 tons of garbage is produced at each professional or high-level collegiate game (this info can be located in places like this study, which found that just one of Penn State’s football games produces 50 tons of waste alone), and that number does not include the actions of people who are watching at home.

Readers of this newsletter are familiar with the importance of eliminating or reducing food waste, but there are a few lesser known tricks for helping the environment during sporting season.

One of the best ways to reduce waste is to simply keep a recycling bin out for any guests during sports events. If the option is there, and readily available, they are more likely to choose to recycle instead of throwing away materials that don’t need to go to the landfill. Alternatively, you can save some of the items garnered during the game and personally reuse them. Many companies now use recyclable/glass containers for alcohol or drinks in general, and those containers can be re-used several times in a variety of ways (vases, water jugs, arts and crafts, etc).

If you’re heading out for a “big game” in a stadium/arena, try and make conscious choices for the environment wherever possible. A new trend is to swap out the higher emission foods–such as beef–and enjoy chicken or vegetarian options instead. Many stadiums also offer recyclable containers to eat out of, and choosing one of those could greatly reduce your personal impact at sporting events. 

Overall, it’s simply a matter of being conscious about the impact of our choices, even during fun events. Swapping out plastic for cardboard doesn’t mean the fun has to stop, however; it just means taking the time to make a choice that will make Mother Nature happier.