tailgater.jpg Fall is upon us which means millions of fans are cheering on their favorite football teams. It also means many of those fans are enjoying a little tailgating prior to kickoff. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 65 million fans are attending NFL and college football games and generating more than 40 million pounds of trash every year. So how can you make your tailgating experience fun and eco-friendly? Here are some simple tips:

Eating and Drinking

Besides the fun camaraderie of rooting for the same team, good eats is the most important component of your tailgating party. To keep your carbon footprint small, consider buying locally grown and organic products for your party. Also, buying in bulk will save you money and reduce wasteful food packaging. The EPA reported that in 2013, food waste made up more than 20 percent of landfill contents. Make your own salsa or guacamole with fresh ingredients found at your local farmers market; you will reduce packaging waste and make a healthier and more delicious treat for your friends. If you’re grilling, keep in mind that conventional charcoal produces greenhouse gases. If you have a charcoal grill, look for organic or natural lump brands of charcoal. Natural gas is also an energy-efficient way to grill. There are also electric grilling options like Weber’s Portable Electric Grill – just make sure you use rechargeable batteries. Look into local, grass-fed and organic meat. It is better for the environment, healthier for your body and full of flavor. Make sure to bring only the food you need so you won’t have to worry about leftovers or contributing to the waste going to the local landfill. pompoms.jpg

Reusing and Recycling

Cut down on waste by using reusable items for your tailgating, such as your favorite team mug and/or water bottle, silverware, plates, cloth napkins and portable containers. Carry a thermos of your favorite beverage instead of individual bottles to cut down on trash and space. Once you’re done with your reusable dishes, pack them up in a reusable bag and take them home to wash. If you can’t use reusable dishware, cutlery or napkins, choose biodegradable, recycled or unbleached products. Also, encourage guests to bring their own reusable water bottles and other reusable items. When you’re packing up your party, make sure you are prepared to deal with the waste and recycling you’ve created. Many collegiate and NFL football teams offer recycling services in and around tailgating sights as well as in the stadiums. If your team isn’t doing its part for the environment, make sure you bring extra bags with you to save those easily recycled materials, like aluminum cans, glass bottles and cardboard boxes, and bring them home to be placed in your recycling bin.

Getting There and What to Wear

Try to carpool with your tailgating friends if possible; you will reduce the amount of fuel you need, save money on parking and reduce carbon emissions. If you’re not the one bringing all the tailgating gear, you could take the bus or, if you’re close enough, ride your bike or walk to the game. Think about what you will wear to tailgate. A typical cotton shirt is produced using more than 70 gallons of water and that is being conservative, many use more than 700 gallons. Instead of buying new team gear, consider wear vintage game clothes from your closet or from your local re-sale shop. Now go have fun!