Baseball has long been considered America’s national pastime, but the efforts of one Major League Baseball team to reduce energy demand and the amount of garbage it sends to landfills could help make the sport one of America’s greenest pastimes.
energyNOW! correspondent Lee Patrick Sullivan visited the Seattle Mariners to find out how a novel sustainability program allows the team to recycle 82 percent of their trash, cut water use by 60 percent, save $1.2 million dollars in energy costs so far, and inspire their fans to become more environmentally friendly at home. You can watch the full segment by clicking the video below:
“I think that’s part of the exciting thing about sports, the conversation of conserving and paying attention to the Earth,” said Scott Jenkins, Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Seattle Mariners. “If you can do it through these iconic venues and these strong brands with teams, it’s a great opportunity to leverage our brand to deliver that message and hopefully encourage others to conserve.”
The centerpiece of this sustainability makeover is trash – or the lack of trash, more accurately. Every food-related item sold at the Mariners’ Safeco Field is compostable. Cups are made from corn, utensils from potatoes, and Styrofoam containers replaced with recycled paper products. These products cost more than traditional plastic items, but the team makes up the difference by not having to hire crews to separate trash and through lower costs to haul waste to a compost facility compared to a landfill.
Nearly 10 tons of compostable trash is taken from Safeco Field after every game to Seattle’s Cedar Grove composting facility. A special process separates any unwanted items, and then converts the material into rich mulch in about eight weeks – compared to a year for home composting.
Beyond recycling, the Mariners are also using efficiency upgrades to save considerable resources and money. The team invested $3 million in efficiency technologies for water and power use, but has recouped their investment through lower utility bills. Dual-flush toilets have cut water use 60 percent, fluorescent lights and motion sensors cut electricity demand in parking garages by 70 percent, and LED lights in stadium scoreboards have saved enough energy to power 100 homes for a full year. “Even in spite of rising utility rates, we continue to reduce our operating costs,” said Jenkins.
The Mariners may lead the league in greening efforts, but they’re not alone. The Boston Red Sox are in the midst of an extreme energy makeover for Fenway Park, baseball’s oldest stadium, ahead of its 100th anniversary in 2012. The team has installed solar panels on Fenway’s roof, converted to LED lighting, installed efficient lighting fixtures and motion-controlled sensors, runs all stadium lawn mowers on biodiesel, and switched to low-flow bathroom fixtures that save around 400,000 gallons of water a year.