Super Bowl Sunday might be one of the easiest days to slip into the old habit of buying over-packaged foods and single-use products, but we’re here to show you it’s easy to be mindful of the environment when planning your party.
According to the EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Guide, nearly 113 billion disposable cups, 39 billion disposable eating utensils, and 29 billion disposable plates are used in the US each year. The Superbowl is a landmark day when those items are readily used by many. Even when considering the energy used to manufacture reusables and the water and soaps employed to wash them, the EPA still suggests the best environmental alternative is to use durable, reusable and washable service-ware at your gatherings.
Here are 10 tips to greening up your parties and gatherings so your waste footprint doesn’t skyrocket, taking its toll on the environment and costing you additional trash dumping fees:
- Plates, Cups, Utensils: Use your reusable plates, cups, napkins, serving platters, utensils and then wash them afterwards. Saves you dough to not have to buy and then dump them. Even plastic utensils can be washed and reused. And if you need some, you can always ask for them on your local Buy Nothing group.
- Serve Local Foods: Local seasonal farmers’ markets will have local produce, meats, wines, and other fresh foods that can be served up for all occasions.
- Buy In Bulk: Consider buying some of your goodies from bulk bins and be sure to bring your own bag.
- Skip the Plastic Water: All health reasons aside, according to the Pacific Institute it takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
- Chips And Dip: Chips are an American Super Bowl staple. Unfortunately there are few options for a zero waste chip experience. But chip bags make excellent re-purposed gift bags. Just turn them inside-out, wash the oil off, dry them, cut off the top with some shaped scissors like pinking sheers or craft scissors, and use a pretty ribbon to tie the top closed! The foil mylar look is super(bowl) cool! For a zero waste crunchy munch, give popcorn a try – It generally comes in reusable or recyclable packaging, or buy in bulk with your own jar that can go straight to your pantry at home.
- Drink local beer: Locally brewed beer hasn’t traveled very far and you’ll be supporting your local economy. Chances are it’ll taste great, too. And bring it all home in your reusable bags.
- Green Your Clean-Up: Be sure to have clearly marked and highly visible bins for your compostables and recyclables so friends and family will know how and where to dispose of their waste.
- Transportation: Try to carpool or take public transportation to your gathering and encourage others to do so.
- Safely Trash Your TV: Not to say you should get rid of it just yet. But this is a reminder that when you’re done with it be sure to either pass it on through resources like Craigslist or Freecycle, or if you have to trash it, do it responsibly. According to the EPA, in 2009 27.2 Televisions were ready for “end of life management.” 22.7 million were trashed and only 4.6 million were recycled. That’s a recycle rate of 17%. Given the valuable and limited resources that go into our electronics, and those that are toxic to the environment, the EPA is pushing to increase our recovery rate so we can help benefit the Earth and future products. Our Trash Backwards app directs you to places nearby where you can recycle your TV. Just scroll down to “Recycle” and you can find a Best Buy near you (but enjoy some of the reuse ideas as you scroll down our reduce and reuse options!)
- Speaking of Sports, Donate Your Unwanted Sporting Goods: Everyone has old sports equipment that could use a new home. No need to throw it away! There are great local and national options for gifting or even selling your sporting goods so they don’t end up in the landfill. Here are just a few:
- Dick’s Sporting Goods: Dick’s has a donation & sponsorship page where you’ll need to sign in and make a request to donate.
- Goodwill: Donate all used sports stuff to Goodwill to benefit others.
- The Buy Nothing Project: Find your local Buy Nothing group and a neighbor will come take your unwanted things away to happily be reused.
- Craigslist: List your items on Craigslist and sell them.
For your further Super Bowl entertainment, here’s an interesting graphic showing you ways in which the Green Mountain Energy Company is helping the Super Bowl tackle its carbon footprint.
Get some more sustainable party-giving ideas from our app, where we have hundreds of great inspirations to help take care of our Earth: