On February 5, 2017, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots pulled off one of the most astonishing comebacks in Superbowl history to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
While Brady flew back home to celebrate his fifth ring, he was leaving behind a city that had to deal with over 80,000 pounds of trash produced by the big game, according to National Geographic.
Environmental sustainability has become such an important topic in today’s world. While many fields have implemented certain eco-friendly practices over the past decade, sports were often left out of the conversation.
All sporting events produce thousands of pounds of waste each game. According to Green Sports Alliance, sporting event attendees alone generate around 39 million pounds of trash per year. That is just in the United States alone.
It’s not just the stadiums that produce waste either. One statistic from Michigan State University estimates that tailgates produce enough trash to fill two 40-yard dumpsters with trash which is about 16,000 gallons worth.
While the sports world has always been slow to adjust to cultural changes, there have been initiatives taken by leagues and teams to take a step forward in becoming more sustainable.
In 2021, the Pittsburgh Pirates launched the “Let’s Go Bucs. Let’s Go Green” initiative. The team began to divert their trash into a more sustainable matter by recycling cardboard, fryer oil, electronics, plastic, paper and food.
The Sacramento Kings are an example of a team becoming more sustainable by going down the technological route. Recently the Kings built a brand new stadium in Sacramento called Golden 1 Center. The team installed a 1.2-megawatt solar array, mounted on the arena roof. The Golden 1 Center is the first and currently, the only stadium in America that is 100% solar powered.
Sustainability in sports even played a part in the Tokyo Olympics last summer. To start off the games, a firework show will take place to celebrate the athletes as they are to participate in the games. Tokyo did use fireworks, but they also had a drone light show take place to help reduce the number of oxidizers that may float into the water. Fireworks can also contaminate the area as they will particulate matter in the sky and can affect our air quality.
It is important for sports teams to take initiative and set an example for the communities they play in. Teams can put on recycling events where fans come put and recycle their old electronics or waste. Fans love seeing their favorite players do good things for the city.
While the rest of the sports world has tried to become much more sustainable in products they put into our world, Long Beach State has been trying to create a greener earth for tomorrow as well.
Long Beach State Athletic Director Andy Fee said this is an area he and the school are trying to improve, as they do recognize the issue and they are looking for ways to improve these measures every day.
When attending an LBSU athletics game, the school will provide sustainable products like food trays, forks and napkins. Fee also said that he and Nike have been working on ways for the school to create uniforms that are made from recycled products to reduce the amount of waste we put into our environment.
Fee explained that doing small things like this at our own home arenas are ways we all can get involved and create a better tomorrow.