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.
Jul 062016

It’s that time of year for summer picnics, get togethers and general outdoor enjoyment. Food and drink are inevitably a part of the festivities, which means many of us will default to disposables for serving because who wants to face collecting reusables to be washed later when you could be, I don’t know. . . playing volleyball or sipping margs (or both) instead?

Squadblog by Dennis BurneyThis seems like a good time to offer Eco Patriots (and anyone else who is interested) some tips on zero waste summer fun. At the end of this article is a link to another article with some good info for minimizing waste at your outdoor extravaganza.

Please note in the article they offer up biodegradable disposables as a good alternate to reusable serving ware. Of course they mean compostable. This is just a hint of the confusion and misunderstanding in our industry in general. For more info on the distinction, check out this FAQ, and read under the compostable heading.

I happen to know a place where you can pick up some compostable foodservice items for your event. Mary Hubbard can help you place your order, if you ask nicely and give her plenty of notice before you actually need them. And no, they’re not free.

As every Eco-Products sales person knows well, striving for a zero waste event means ending up with a bag of recyclables, a bag of compostables, and maybe a very tiny bag of trash. It requires some extra set up and planning, but if you have access to commercial composting and a recycling program, it’s entirely possible. Here in Boulder, we are fortunate to have both. Here are some pointers:

  1. If you use any compostable servingware, use ALL compostable servingware. It really simplifies things to be able to say “if it touched food or drink, put it in the bin marked COMPOSTABLE.” Since bottles and cans are commonly recycled, a good goal is to recycle these, then compost everything else (although you’ll have to account for the random candy bar wrapper some teenager brought in).
  2. Three bin system. You’ll want well-marked bins (boxes, trash bins) for Recycle, Compost, & Landfill. It helps to tape samples of the actual compostable items to the compost bin, and a bottle and can on the recycle bin for easy reference. Or, make some posters if you’re feeling artsy fartsy. A visibly smaller landfill bin can help send the message this is the least desirable option. Note that Eco-Cycle rents bins for reasonable rates.
  3. Find a home for all three streams. Landfill and recycling are typically easy. If you need help finding a composter, contact Eco-Cycle if you’re in the Boulder area. They coordinate zero waste events all the time. Beyond the Front Range, check out
  4. If your event is large enough to have staff or volunteers, have a kick-off meeting explaining the zero waste thing and the 3 bin system. Yes, you’ll have to suffer the embarrassment of talking about it and may suffer a few “to near the Boulder bubble” jokes in the process. If there are no staff or volunteers, just spread the word to your pals.
  5. Expect to spend some time being a Trash Goalie to help folks figure out what goes in what bin. It isn’t rocket science, but people really benefit from a little guidance. Recruit some of your poor friends and family who have already suffered through your endless eco-jargon filled rants to help out.
  6. Don’t be a smarty pants or make people feel guilty for not knowing what to do at the bins. This will be a great learning experience for what our sales folks are ultimately up against. Plastic and foam have reigned for a long time, a plastic looking cup, even with the green swoop, still looks like trash to most people.

Eco Patriots are Waste SavvyReally it’s not as hard as I’m making it sound. And if I can manage it with a bunch of right-wing eastern Colorado beet farmer progeny. Anyone can do it.

Read this article with more tips applicable to summer entertaining.

Jul 012015

Lindsey Wohlman is our contributor this issueSummer has arrived! With summer comes music festivals and other large scale events and plenty of big challenges in waste diversion and reduction. Be it baseball stadiums, concert venues, or outdoor festivals we’re seeing lots of examples of positive changes.

Here at Eco-Products® we love a good challenge and we love seeing the creative solutions used to help reduce waste. One such event that has successfully implemented a variety of measures is the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Their website sums it up perfectly – For more than two decades, Planet Bluegrass has worked to present the finest musical experiences in some of the country’s most magnificent natural environments while striving to reduce our environmental footprint at the same time (

This festival’s reduction programs can be placed into two categories.

Telluride Bluegrass FestivalWaste Reduction
Telluride tackles waste reduction by partnering with several vendors to encourage reusables. They sell Clean Kanteen steel cups at the Bluegrass festival store that can be filled by beer vendors at a discount. Don’t want to buy one? Well the beer tents sell all of their beer in reusable Eco-Products® souvenir cups (which can be refilled at a discount at these same booths). They do not offer any single use cups and in doing so they cut out an entire waste generator. Telluride estimates they save upwards of 75,000 cups from being thrown out just by making this one change of habit.

When it comes time to hydrate, you can fill up your water bottles (or souvenir cups) at one of Telluride’s water stations. All stations provide free filtered water to help keep festivarians hydrated without bringing in bottled water. This has resulted in many food vendors opting to not sell bottled water since water is readily available for free.

Lastly, there’s a vendor wide ban on all plastic bags. This means all purchases must be bagged in cloth bags (or backpacks since everyone is wearing them).

Waste Diversion
Of course you can’t ban all waste. Food vendors still need a way to serve their customer, but Telluride works closely with vendors to ensure what they serve on can be diverted. Telluride is able to divert more than 60% of their festival waste ( by requiring all vendors to use compostable plates and cutlery.

In order for festivarians to divert their waste correctly, Telluride provides a 3 bin system each with their own trained volunteer “trash goalie”. They help concert-goers place their waste in the correct bin (compost, recycling, or trash). Volunteers ensure cleaner waste streams by directing trash disposal and occasionally sorting mis-placed waste (in years past our VP of Marketing Wendell has been known to help out) and in turn get to enjoy the festival when not at work! If you want to volunteer next year, check out this link.

Telluride Waste Solutions