Greening America’s Favorite Pastime.

bonds 756In honor (?) of Barry Bond’s historic 756th career home run last night, I thought I should share one of the first ideas we considered doing to address climate change: greening the game of baseball. After all, what’s more American than baseball and apple pie, right? (Never mind that football has supplanted baseball’s role as the most popular sport in the country.)

Here’s the idea: Get Major League Baseball to go carbon neutral. Start with a club from a progressive community–the San Francisco Giants would be the obvious choice–to demonstrate how it could be done and then roll it out elsewhere.

Why MLB? For one thing, major league parks have huge footprints from electricity usage, waste, transportation in and out, pesticides/fertilizers, you name it. The average fan generates five pounds of food and beverage waste, much of which can be recycled. A typical baseball game contributes up to 50,000 polystyrene cups alone to local landfills.

And that’s not even getting into the lighting banks or the car emissions from fans getting to and from the games. There’s just a ton of opportunity to reduce consumption and waste.

Expand the focus to include transportation of the teams, as well, and you’re really adding up the tons. Each MLB plays 81 games away from home each season. And their farm system clubs travel huge distances by bus and planes, as well.

But even more appealing to me is the opportunity to build awareness amongst fans. 76 million fans attended 2,420 games in 2006. The average game attendance was over 34,000 people. And the television audience is even bigger. Fox’s 43 telecasts in 2004, including playoffs and the All-Star Game, averaged more than 7 million households.

News Corp has pledged to go carbon neutral by 2010 and has committed to educating its audiences to do the same:

Mr Murdoch said the greatest impact the company could have was through inspiring its audiences to reduce their own climate impact.

“The climate change problem will not be solved without mass participation by the general public in countries around the globe.

“Our audience’s carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours … that’s the carbon footprint we want to conquer.

So there could be lots of opportunity to spread the message both at the parks and through media channels.  At the same time, MLB could leverage its partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to get youth involved:  How about having B&G Clubs take part in tree-planting projects at the ballparks?  And that’s just here in the U.S.  Baseball’s appeal to youth is arguably even bigger abroad.

Ways to Go Carbon Neutral

  • Solar power installations
  • Tree planting/rooftop garden installations
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Carbon offsets for air travel
  • Compostable/biodegradable cups, plates and utensils
  • Compost food waste
  • Biodiesel road travel (farm system buses)
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) for new stadiums

How it Would Work

  • Conduct (free) energy & cost-savings assessments
  • Secure carbon neutrality commitments from MLB team owners
  • Promote the energy-efficiency, conservation, and energy alternatives employed by MLB
  • Engage fans through CFL Give Away Days, stadium exhibits and “green fan” activities
  • Leverage partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to reach youth
  • Leverage broadcast partnerships to reach television audiences
  • Engage owners and fans in carbon neutral competitions
  • International outreach and programs

Just an idea…

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2 thoughts on “Greening America’s Favorite Pastime.

  1. Will Weiss, who writes for Baseball Prospectus, has written a few articles about this subject. He also wrote an essay “Green-Lighting Environmental Change: How Baseball is Changing Its Outlook” that appeared in Baseball Prospectus 2007 (a book). Apparently, the Reds, Rockies and Giants, and Nationals are all doing some greening. He’s written a few articles that I think you should check out after which you can probably contact him as well.

  2. Thanks for the tip on Will Weiss’s writings. I knew that the Giants and A’s were both doing things around composting and biodegradable cups, plates, etc., and that the Nat’s new ballpark is to be LEED certified. But I didn’t realize that the Rockies and Reds were also doing stuff.

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