I am neither a Patriots fan nor a Giants fan, so for me last Sunday’s Super Bowl was not the gut wrenching affair it was for my friends in New England and Manhattan. It was an amazing game however, one for the record books in more ways than one. Rather than the final drive comeback or “almost perfect” Pats season, I’m referring to something completely different. I’m talking about the fact that this Super Bowl was the greenest sporting event in history. As I watched the game I could not help but think about what this means…namely the fact that “green” is seeping into every facet of our lives.
On Sunday alone I took a taxi that ran on biodiesel to buy game time snacks at a Whole Foods whose electricity is 100% wind powered, then read an article in the checkout line about “green anxiety” being felt by San Francisco’s young professionals (“Oh dear God! Am I doing enough?! Is she doing more than me? Paper?! Plastic?! Composting?! I can’t handle the pressure!”). I then carried the food home in cloth reusable bags, watched a sporting event that was carbon neutral, read a book about organic foods, and fell asleep on non-toxic sheets washed in eco-detergent.
So yes, as we look around this “sustainability thing” is definitely happening, there is undeniable movement and momentum — and the Super Bowl is a great example of the sea change sweeping through America (finally).
So what makes a sporting event green? This year the NFL bought carbon offsets and planted hundreds of native tree seedlings to offset the electricity used at the game, recycled left over souvenirs and waste, provided food banks with leftover food, and implemented strategies to reduce and recycle waste such as re-usable/biodegradable cups. While these steps will not single-handedly solve the global warming crisis they are definitely a good start and a high profile example of what is possible.
Listen to Jack Groh, environmental program director for the NFL, talking with NPR’s Melissa Block about the environmental impact of the Super Bowl and the NFL’s efforts to minimize and offset it.
Hopefully this is just the beginning and green events will catch on. I understand that the Indy Car Series cars will run 100% on fuel-grade ethanol this year, which is a huge change from the methanol they’ve run on in the past. Given the use of ethanol has no impact on speed or performance, yet offers better gas mileage, this is simply a no brainer.
The green event movement is also catching on in the concert world with promoters behind events such as the massive Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee taking proactive steps to minimize and offset their impact. I plan to attend Bonnaroo this year and will report on their green leadership later this summer.
All of these changes are the result of the public outcry for our public and private sector leaders to address global warming and environmental degradation in meaningful, concrete ways. Let’s hope this is just the beginning and “green events” become the norm rather than newsworthy.