Aug 302016

It’s almost fall. The dog days of summer are coming to a close. The kids are going back to school. And it’s the beginning of football season! America sure does love its football. But those college and NFL games that we love so much have a bigger impact on our environment than you may realize.

Contributor David GormanIt is estimated that over 65 million fans attend collegiate and professional games annually. That’s just the people inside the stadiums! This estimate does not include the fans tailgating in the parking lot, eating in restaurants near the venue, or the fans gathering at a friend’s house to watch the game.

These fans generate a lot of stuff that needs to be dealt with, and it’s not just the trash that goes to a landfill. There are numerous other impacts: there are the carbon emissions from the fans traveling to the venue via car or plane; the electricity to power the stadium, restaurants, and hotels where fans are staying; the food scraps and foodservice packaging generated by the concession stands; the inevitable human waste. All of this material is being generated inside and outside the stadiums – in the parking lots by tailgaters, at local bars where fans are celebrating, and at a good friend’s house hosting a cookout for the big game.

Football SeasonFolsom Field at the University of Colorado was the first major college football stadium in the country to attempt to go “zero waste”, and Eco-Products has been a part of that effort since the beginning. Most of what we have learned about what to do and what not to do as it relates to large scale waste diversion we learned from our friends at CU. Next Saturday we’ll begin our 9th season working with CU on diverting a much waste as possible from Folsom Field, and we’ll be a part of a new VIP tailgate experience on the new Franklin Field that will be a zero waste zone as well – the first of its kind outside the stadium gates.

Colleges and professional sports teams are taking action to minimize this impact. For example, the NFL is working with a non-profit, Rock and Wrap It Up, to recover prepared foods and distribute the recovered food to the homeless shelters or food banks near stadiums. The EPA has a Game Day Challenge, where colleges compete against each other to see who can reduce, reuse, and recycle the most during an event. The Ohio State Football team is composting all food scraps at the Horseshoe in Columbus. Numerous stadiums in the NFL have revamped lighting systems to consume less electricity, and some sports venues are providing compostable plates or recycling bags to tailgaters.

As awareness around sustainability grows, more sport teams and venues will continue to jump on the bandwagon by adopting green initiatives. The next time you are at a stadium, take a look around to see what kind of green solutions your favorite team is implementing. If you don’t see much evidence of sustainability in action, consider letting your team know that you’d cheer even louder if they took additional steps to minimize their environmental impacts.

Here are some resources on the topic of sustainability in sports:

  1. The Natural Resources Defense Council – Comprehensive study on sustainability in sports by this nonprofit working to protect the air, land, and water from pollution.
  2. The Green Sports Alliance – Leveraging the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities.
  3. The GameDay Challenge – A friendly recycling and diversion competition among Colleges and Universities.
  4. EPA Wastewise – Encourages organizations and businesses to achieve sustainability in their practices and reduce select industrial wastes.
Aug 112015

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
   — Rumi

This month's contributor is Savvinista Laureate in absentia Tori RosenbeckerDid you know that to make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed? And every day over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the US alone.

A great alternative to paper towels is re-usable towels:

  • Cleaning the bathroom? Microfiber towels offer a great alternative to using paper towels for cleaning. These can be purchased at most grocery stores and drug stores, and they won’t leave behind fibers or filth on your bathroom surfaces.
  • Spill something in the kitchen? Keep a small stack of rags in a drawer or under the sink, and grab one whenever you need to clean up a mess.
  • Serving dinner? Use cloth napkins. Classy. Functional. Environmentally friendly.
  • Out and about or at work? Bring a handkerchief or a People Towel with you. Did you know that in Japan there are no paper towels or hand dryers in most public restrooms? Everyone carries a small hand towel with them.

Keep in mind – while reusables sound more environmentally friendly than single-use items, that is not always the case. It is important to consider the energy and water that go into manufacturing an item as well as the life and the end of life of the product. To improve the environmental “friendliness” of towels, wash full loads in an energy efficient washing machine and line dry.

If everyone incorporated a few changes to their home and work routine, we could drastically reduce our dependency on disposable paper towels. Be the change.

Did you know that to make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed?

Jun 012015

Hello! Welcome to the Eco-Products Sustainability Squad Blog. You might not be surprised to hear that many of us at Eco-Products (we like to call ourselves Eco Patriots) are pretty passionate about environmental and social responsibility. We want to have a way to share sustainability tips, facts, and other info with anyone who is similarly eco-minded. We’ll aim to post once a month and while some of the content may be most relevant to us in the Boulder, Colorado area, much of it should be useful to anyone looking to have a lighter footprint and leave a positive impact. Happy reading!

Brittany Stinebaugh-Harris our contributor this week

Brittany Stinebaugh-Harris our contributor this issue

Did you know that in 2014 solar energy only made up 1% of the energy mix in the United States?

A large deterrent for many to invest in solar is that they rent, or their home cannot accommodate the panels. A recent survey revealed that around 49% of homes cannot accommodate traditional panels. So how can you get involved with solar if you fall into this category? Community solar gardens have been gaining popularity in the Denver/Boulder area and other communities.

A community solar garden is what it sounds like: a group of solar panels that are owned by a group (or subscribers) that feed into the local power grid. They are making it possible for everyone to support solar power.

How can you invest into a community solar garden? Currently 2 options are available: buying the panels, or buying the energy. Both typically involve a 20 year contract, but vary on payment, upfront investment and ROI.

 Lafayette Solar Gardens near HQ

Read more on community solar gardens.

Of course, energy efficiency should be the first step in reducing the carbon footprint of your energy consumption. Try some of these energy saving tips for the summer.