Compost Bags as Game Giveaways? How Pro-Sports Teams Are Going Green

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REUTERS/Anthony P. Bolante

As leagues attempt to “clean up” professional sports, the Seattle Mariners has planned to hand out dirt to spectators.

Maybe it wasn’t what you were expecting at the gate, but the Mariners giving compost bags to gamegoers is one of the small pieces of sustainability the newly formed Green Sports Alliance hopes professional franchises can give to its fans.

Six professional sports franchises in the Pacific Northwest created the alliance, which started when representatives of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who owns the Seahawks, Blazers and part of the Sounders, started looking into the idea. Member teams aim to make “real progress toward reducing their environmental impact,” alliance executive director Martin Tull tells NewsFeed. “We want to share strategies with other teams to do the same.” The alliance has a Green Sports Summit planned for August in Portland, Ore.

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The alliance kicked off with Seattle’s Mariners (MLB), Seahawks (NFL), Storm (WNBA) and Sounders FC (MLS), plus Portland’s Trail Blazers (NBA) and Vancouver’s Canucks (NHL) as founding members. Other teams from across North America already want to join; Tull says he has three requests in his email inbox now. Having this movement grow suits him just fine. “We actually talked about having teams from around the country to start,” he says. “It was easy to start with those closest relationships.”

Initiatives can be as small as using compost created from Seattle gameday waste as a fan giveaway, or as large as switching out all of Safeco Field’s urinals to low-flush varieties. In Portland, the Blazers and the Rose Garden switched to 100 percent compostable service wear and Vancouver’s Canucks use smart technology to heat their home arena. Safeco Field has upped its recycling from 12 percent of all waste in 2006 to 70 percent in 2010, saving the club $72,000 per year and keeping 829 tons of useless ballgame waste away from the trash. The club has also saved over $1 million in energy costs the last few years.

The alliance will benefit from a partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist for the council, says such a concerted effort by professional teams will go a long way into showing a real commitment to environmental progress. It remains to be seen if more professional teams also jump at the chance to be a part of the Green Sports Alliance — and exactly how fans will react to a free bag of compost.

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