Sunday, February 5, 2012

A sustainable Super Bowl?

On a day dedicated to excess, spectacle, and American Exceptionalism, is it possible to watch The Big Game and still engage in sustainable behaviors? On their Facebook page, Grist made a modest step by asking its readers:
What sustainable snacks will you be whipping up for your Super Bowl party? Share ideas and recipes!
The responses were not encouraging. Most people mocked the idea of combining sustainable food and the Super Bowl. The most popular comment just thought the entire idea was not worth considering.
F*ck the Super Bowl in all of its excessive entirety. I'm packing some trail mix and going hiking.
SOCRRA, the local recycling facility, skipped asking questions entirely, and just offered advice on their Facebook page.
Don't make Super Bowl Sunday super wasteful! As many people are planning their celebrations for this coming Sunday, consider opportunities to reduce waste. Serve beverages in their recyclable container (aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles). Reduce the amount of disposable items as much as you can - do you have extra plates, silverware, and cloth napkins as an option? If you must use disposable, look for those with recycled content. Good luck in making it a Super Reduce, Reuse, and Recycling event!
That got a more favorable response, as no one dissed it, four people liked it, and two people, including me, shared it.

Now, what about the event itself? In a story I shared on last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos, Discovery News has the information.

Super Bowl Tackles Climate Change
Analysis by Tim Wall
Fri Feb 3, 2012
The field won't be the only thing green about Super Bowl XLVI. The NFL has a plan in their playbook to tackle the carbon dioxide emissions caused by energy use at the six major Super Bowl facilities. Renewable energy certificates will pass 15,000 megawatt hours of clean energy to the NFL's environmental receivers.

At the slick new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis even the lights shining on the New York Giants and New England Patriots will be accounted for by renewable energy certificates provided by Green Mountain Energy Company.

The stadium's namesake, Lucas Oil sells gasoline additives and other automotive products.

But the NFL doesn't want grease stains on their uniforms. They bought carbon credits to intercept the emissions resulting from transporting the Super Bowl teams to the stadium, according to
Click on Read More to see the infographic accompanying the Discovery News article and the relevant part of the NFL press release.

Now, the relevant section of the press release, which shows that it isn't just climate change that the NFL is trying to mitigate, but all aspects of their environmental impact.
The NFL Environmental Program has developed a series of initiatives to minimize the impact of Super Bowl activities on the local and global environment. Environmental projects are developed in partnership with the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee and local, state and national organizations.

These initiatives include:

Solid Waste Management/Recycling -- Comprehensive solid waste management at major NFL event facilities. This project diverts waste from local landfills through recycling and reusing potential waste materials. Sites include Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indiana Convention Center (100 South Capitol Ave.), and the hotels serving as team headquarters, NFL headquarters and the Motorola Super Bowl Media Center. In addition, Pepsi is providing recycling bins for the NFL Experience and the Lucas Oil Stadium.

Prepared Food Recovery -- Extra prepared food from Super Bowl XLVI events will be collected for donation in partnership with Second Helpings, an Indianapolis-based non profit community kitchen and food rescue agency. Food recovered through this effort will go to soup kitchens, shelters and other local organizations that provide meals to those in need.

Materials Donation -- Decorative materials, building materials, office supplies and other reusable items will be recovered and donated to local nonprofit organizations. Some materials are appropriate for reuse while others will be used as fund raising auction items or remanufactured into new products.

Sports Equipment and Book Donation Project -- The Super Kids-Super Sharing Sports Equipment and Book Donation project was developed in partnership with the Indianapolis Colts, the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, Martin University and Greater Indianapolis public and private schools. Local students are bringing gently used or new books, sports equipment and school supplies to their schools. These items will be collected then donated to pre-selected local schools and organizations serving children in need. On Thursday, Jan. 19, media is invited to Martin University (2171 Avondale Pl.), where hundreds of students and coordinators will bring donated items between 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders and mascot will attend the event and take part in a brief thank you ceremony with NFL officials at 10:30 a.m. (Best photo opportunities will be from 9:45-11:00 a.m.).

Climate Change Initiative -- Steps being taken to reduce the overall greenhouse gas impact of Super Bowl activities and events include:

» Use of renewable energy certificates to provide "green" power for major Super Bowl XLVI event venues including Lucas Oil Stadium, the Motorola Super Bowl Media Center, NFL Super Bowl headquarters, the NFL Experience and the AFC and NFC team hotels.

» Use of carbon offset credits to address the transportation emissions created by Super Bowl team travel. These offsets will cover both air and ground travel for both Super Bowl teams.

» Incorporation of solar power into the Rebuilding Together community project as part of the overall Near East Side Legacy Project. The renewable energy, solar power and travel offset projects are made possible through a partnership with Green Mountain Energy

» The planting of several thousand trees in local neighborhoods in partnership with the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful as part of the overall "greening" of Super Bowl XLVI.
Yes, it's greenwashing, but it's impressive greenwashing of a kind that I applaud.

Read the rest of the press release. The NFL is doing all kinds of sustainability-related activities this weekend to burnish its image. As a football fan, I say good work.

Oh, in case you're wondering who I'm rooting for, Go Pats! The quarterback is a Michigan man and I count Massachusetts as one of my home states right behind Michigan and California and just ahead of Utah.


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    1. Sorry, you reached your limit on spam about the Super Bowl.