With fall comes football: watching, cheering, eating, tailgating…and waste. Most people worry about their teams winning, but football can be a huge loss for the environment. An average college football game generates about 50 tons of waste.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. The NFL’s Environmental Program made great strides at the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl. Local companies, nonprofits, and government entities worked together to post signs throughout the stadium and offer recycling containers. As a result, 17.78 tons of materials from the stadium were recycled, including 6.34 tons of cardboard and 6.22 tons of commingled recycling (cans, plastics, and paper). The joint effort also provided creative ways for salvaging materials. A local nonprofit turned used banners into shower curtains and tote bags, and recovered turf helped create a local mini-golf course.
Football stadium personnel all over the country are realizing the potential they have to reduce, reuse, and recycle. At one stadium, staff replaced incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, lowering electricity consumption by 90 percent. Another stadium features solar panels that generate enough power for all home games in one season. The University of North Texas powers 30 percent of its 31,000-seat stadium from windmills, and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium has a retractable roof that allows for natural lighting and ventilation. One pro football stadium even has seats made of recycled plastic.
But what about you, the fans? The NCAA reports about 49 million people in the United States attend at least one college football game per year. That’s just college! Add in high school and pro, and all of those football fans can really make an impact. So as you cheer on your team, here are some ways to help the environment:
- Carpool to the game to reduce emissions—and also save money on parking.
- When buying snacks, look for those in minimal packaging. Up to 80 percent of waste at a sporting event is from food packaging.
- Take a trash bag with you to prevent littering. Even orange slices shouldn’t be left on the sideline.
- Reuse cups, coolers, and cooking utensils. Buy reusable team-colored cups or ones with the school's logo to encourage saving them.
- Look for recycling bins both inside and outside stadiums, or take your own bag to collect all those aluminum cans.
- Encourage other fans to recycle. Raising awareness is an important first step to green games.
Visit the sports section of the EPA website to learn more success stories and other ways you can help.
The RESTORE Council is accepting project submissions for restoration projects along the Texas Gulf Coast. The deadline for submissions for Texas projects is Oct. 20, 2014. Visit RestoreTheTexasCoast.org.
Abandoned tires are not only unsightly, they can be costly and dangerous. Federal and local government agencies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several decades responding to tire fires. Scrap tires can also lead to diseases from mosquitos, rats, and snakes and encourage illegal dumping of other waste.
The TCEQ Scrap Tire Program has formed partnerships throughout Texas to reduce illegal dumping. Most recently, as part of the City of Dallas Trinity River Corridor Project, joint cleanups have removed 90 tons of scrap tires. As a rule, it is five to ten times more expensive to clean up a fire site than to just remove the tires before they catch fire.
Over 3 million tires were sent to Texas landfills last year, even though tires can be reused and recycled in many ways. Whole tires make great playground structures, swings, raised-bed gardens, and planters. Tires can also be recycled into running tracks, retaining walls, playground surfaces, and roof shingles. About 50 percent of scrap tires processed in Texas are used as fuel. While several industries use tire-derived fuel, the cement and paper mill industries use the most.
You can reduce the number of tires you use by extending the life of the ones you have with proper care:
- Check your tire pressure monthly. A tire underinflated by 5 psi can lose about 9 percent of its life miles.
- Test your tire tread monthly using the “penny test.” Insert a penny upside down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tread is too worn.
- Keep your tires aligned and rotated regularly to avoid uneven tread wear.
When you can no longer use the tires, dispose of them properly. If you have just a few, take them to a local tire dealer or recycling facility. Visit Earth911.com to find a recycling center near you.
Report a Litterer With New App
Don’t Mess with Texas now offers an app to report littering. Litterbugs still roam the roadways, tossing trash from their car windows and letting debris fly out of their truck beds. So what can you do when you see someone littering? Visit Report A Litterer, or use the free app, to anonymously report it to Texas Department of Transportation. After locating the litterer in the vehicle-registration database, Don't Mess with Texas sends a letter along with a litterbag reminding the litterer to keep their trash off of our roads.