The Super Bowl is often the most-watched television event of the year, drawing around 100 million worldwide viewers. Viewing parties, like the big game itself, can be carbon costly due to surges in travel and consumption.
According to National Geographic, “the average NFL game generates 80,000 pounds of trash. That can double during the Super Bowl.” Recent host cities have made efforts to turn the Super Bowl into a zero-waste event – in part to reduce the burden on their landfills. This year, Miami and Hard Rock Stadium are looking to “phase out 99.4 percent of its single-use plastic” by using aluminum drink cups, compostable food service materials and local vendors.
In 2018, Minneapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium sent 90% of their Super Bowl waste to a composter or recycler by using “bin guards” and auditing their trash after the game.
Super Bowl Sunday may be the perfect excuse to drink on a work night and cheat on your New Year’s resolution diet, but it’s not an excuse to be wasteful. If the cities and stadiums hosting tens of thousands of people can reduce Super Bowl waste by 90%, so can the people watching the game on TV.
Even if your just inviting a few friends over last minute, consider the following green guidelines.
An Earth-friendly Super Bowl pregame
Send email or text invites challenging your guests to find the eco-friendliest way to get to your house. Ask them to bring only locally made and/or package-free food and drink. Super Bowl parties are usually potlucks anyway, why not make it a Earth-friendly potluck? Have prizes ready for the the greenest transportation method and local-est dish.
Plan a locally-sourced menu
Let’s face it, Super Bowl parties are all about appetizers and alcohol. Provide beverages in easily recyclable aluminum or glass containers from local vendors, like these sustainable breweries in Washington. Prioritize local and organic produce, and leave beef – the most carbon-costly food source – completely off the menu. Sneak in a vegan recipe like this Vegan 7-Layer Mexican Dip and see if anyone even notices.
Go for reusable decorations and partyware
A ceramic football serving dish can be used many times, but streamers, balloons and banners are just ocean plastic waiting to happen. The Super Bowl is only a few hours, that’s hardly worth the plastic waste. Stay away from disposable plates, silverware, napkins and cups – your guests deserve good stuff! You’ll likely only need glasses, plates and forks – which can often be subbed for toothpicks. If you’re short on a particular serving item, ask a guest to help out. Football is about teamwork, after all.
Minimize food waste
Clearly mark your compost, recycle and trash to take the guesswork out of choosing the proper receptacle. Having a “bin guard” might be overboard, so label the bins with what goes in them. For example, make a note on your compost bin that says: “Food Scraps, paper products and wine corks.”
Encourage your guests to bring their own take-home containers so you don’t get stuck with more leftovers than you can handle. If you are overwhelmed with leftovers, bring them to work to share with the few people that show up the following day.
Look for the greenwashiest Super Bowl commercial, not just the funniest
Advertisers know they have 100 million viewers served up on a platter on Super Bowl Sunday, and they tend to pull out all the stops. Some go for funny, some go for powerful, and a shocking amount go for greenwash.
Make a game out of it. Take bets on the following:
- How many commercials before we see the first shot of a gas-guzzling SUV driving down a wide-open scenic highway? 10? 5? 3?
- During which quarter of the game will an electric or hybrid vehicle make an appearance?
- How many total commercials for fossil fuel companies will air? What buzzwords and phrases will they push?
- Which fast food company will advertise their meatless patty first?
- Who can find the most egregious example of greenwashing? Who can find the most blatant disregard for sustainability?
- Will FOX (the network carrying the game) mention any of the waste-reduction efforts from Miami and Hard Rock Stadium?
Share your Super Bowl green prop bets and party tips in the comments below, or on social media @emeraldology.
Feature photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash.