Football Fan’s Guide to Tailgating the Green Way

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  Cooking out with propane instead of coals during a tailgating party is one way to make your experience more environmentally friendly. 

Cooking out with propane instead of coals during a tailgating party is one way to make your experience more environmentally friendly. 

Between the exuberant cheers and agonizing groans coming from the family room, you can only come to one conclusion - it’s football season. Watching a game on TV is entertaining, yet you have to admit, there’s nothing quite like watching a game in person. Hanging out in the stands during the game is awesome, but for die-hard fans, tailgating is a must. The pre-game party, complete with food, music, and games, is practically a rite of passage for the most devoted fans.


Tailgating parties are basically on-the-go picnics. Fans fill their SUV’s with everything from portable grills to actual fold-out picnic tables, pop-up tents, and colorful lawn chairs. Food tends to be anything that can be cooked on the grill, like hot dogs or hamburgers, and snacks like chips and salsa. And who can forget the beer?


Along with all the fun, however, comes a lot of trash. Have you ever seen a parking lot after a tailgating event? What a mess! A few tweaks to your tailgating game can make the whole experience much more eco-friendly and a lot less trashy. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you plan your next pre-game gathering.


If you’re hosting the tailgate you’re responsible for proper waste disposal during and after the gathering. Take your own trash bags and recycling collection containers. Stash a few extras to share with neighbors too, every little bit helps. After you choose your parking spot, familiarize yourself with where the waste disposal containers are. Look for trashcans, large dumpsters, and recycling bins that are accessible to the public.


While many sports venues do provide recycling for clean and dry paper, plastic bottles and aluminum cans, the majority do not have a recycling service on site for glass bottles. If you’re serving beer in glass bottles, and want to recycle the bottles, you’ll need to take them home. After the party take a few minutes to tote your trash and recyclables to the right bins. Bonus points for cleaning up litter from the parking lot as you go.


One of the best ways to reduce the amount of waste you make at the tailgate is to reuse as many items as possible. For example, instead of a disposable plastic tablecloth, you can use a reusable one made with cotton or other fabric in your team’s colors. Replace disposable napkins and paper towels with their more durable cloth counterparts. Disposable plates, silverware, and cups can also be replaced with reusable plastic, ceramic, or metal versions.


Reusables do need to get washed. Tote them home in a reusable plastic tub or a cardboard box lined with a plastic bag. While washing may seem like a chore, reusables give you the chance to invest in items that will last. Instead of buying plastic cups over and over again, only to throw them out, you’ll have a reusable version you only had to purchase once. Choosing reusable items with your favorite team’s logo and colors will show your team spirit and add a bit of décor to your trunk.


If you can’t live without the disposable single-use items, purchase those that are made from renewable or sustainable materials like bamboo or sugarcane. Today it’s easier to find these types of products at local stores – just read the labels. Look for words like biodegradable, compostable, and plant-based plastic. You can also purchase items made with recycled content. For example, Preserve 5 makes reusable and durable plastic plates, cups, and cutlery from food grade plastic number five containers that have been recycled.


Another tip is to light up the grill with propane instead of charcoal. Propane gas burns cleaner and produces a lot less carbon dioxide emissions that result in cleaner air for the planet and your lungs. Propane also leaves behind less waste. But, if you can’t skip the charcoal purchase briquettes or charcoal made from environmentally friendly wood sources and renewable plant waste like coconut husks. Small changes can lead to a cleaner and more eco-friendly experience.