Tailgate for Team Green!

by Beth Hurtubise

Football fans enjoy tailgating games - Image courtesy of allygirl520 flickr/cc license

Tailgate for Team Green!

Coming from a Big Ten school, the turning of the leaves and regression of humidity signal something more than autumn, they mean the start to another exciting football season. Now, my Illini don’t always end up on top, but one thing students and alumni alike are always great at is tailgating. Like other schools across the country, a caravan of cars piles into fields and parking lots near the stadium bright and early, both cars and people decked out in school colors as loyal fans unload the trunk and set up chairs, shade tents, games, folding tables, grills and copious amounts of food and drinks. They cook, eat, play games and then go into the stadium to root their team to uncertain victory. At the end of the day it’s a rush to clean up and slowly file out of the lot.

But, have you ever seen the scene at the end of the night, once all the cars have left? It’s usually not a pretty one. Garbage cans overflow with paper plates, plastic cups and aluminum cans, some blowing away down the street or through nearby property. Eco18 wants to change this through the following simple steps to a greener tailgate.

  • Use reusable plates, bowls, utensils, cups and napkins. This will eliminate the majority of waste at a tailgate and also keep you from having to buy a new set each week.
  • Buy organic and/or local food and drinks. Don’t think you have to take a day off from eating organic just because you’re at a tailgate. You can get burgers, chips, veggies, dip, beer and more from organic or local sources.
  • Opt for a gas or, even better, solar grill instead of charcoal. If you can’t bear to break away from your charcoal ways, look for more environmentally friendly products and avoid coals soaked in lighter fluid–use a chimney starter instead.
  • Recycle any bottles, cans or other appropriate materials. There probably isn’t a recycling bin near your tailgate location, but you can easily bring empty recyclables home with you. You can even go the extra mile and invite your tailgate neighbors to add their cans and bottles to your pile.
  • Do a quick lap around your tailgate area before you leave. The space should look the same as when you drove in, without any items left behind.

I picked these tips to be as easy to accomplish as possible, so you can focus on friends, fun and football! And they translate to professional and college tailgates for any sport you can think of. Some teams and stadiums are getting behind the green movement as well; check out the Green Sports Alliance to see if your favorite team is on board yet.

Eco18 would love to hear your ideas for green tailgating too! Comment below and I’ll add them to the list.

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