As we all anxiously await another home game Saturday, when the Irish will clearly reign victorious over the Falcons, I wanted to offer you all a few tips to get you a bit more eco-conscious. I know what you are thinking, "I will not let you touch my game day." But seriously, modifying your pregame habits just a bit can make a huge impact.
The GreenMan's Top Greengating Tips:
1. Recycle — Bottles, cans, plastic, paper, cardboard, etc. can all be recycled on campus. Notre Dame has an extensive game day recycling program set up, where everything you throw in the bags that are provided gets weighed and tracked. At the Michigan State game two weeks ago, the campus recycled 21.55 tons, our second highest total in history. However, our waste generation still has room for improvement; for 2010's EPA Game Day Recycling Challenge, our number for per capita waste generation was embarrassing. Our 1.188 pounds per person was more than double that of the University of Michigan. Ouch. Grab a blue bag on Saturday and try to cut down on waste!
2. Choosing the grill — Propane grills are the most eco-friendly for tailgating purposes, especially if you buy an energy efficient model. Propane burns cleaner than wood or charcoal, and it leaves less waste. If you do opt for a charcoal model because you can't part with the flavor, use all natural briquettes made from environmentally friendly/ renewable sources.
3. Eating seasonal — Try to use in-season produce as much as possible for your different vegetable and fruit selections. In early October, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, okra and tomatoes are considered in season in Indiana. You can also try going meatless! Try portabella burgers as a substitute (or at least a nice addition).
4. Organic beer — For those of you over 21, try replacing your normal brew with a more environmentally friendly option. While I'm sure some of you are thinking, "no way," for others, it's worth a shot. Nearly 70 percent of the pollution in our rivers and streams comes from conventional farming methods. Switching to organic beer which doesn't contain pesticides and genetically modified organisms will help reduce this number. Most natural food stores carry organic beers, and even big names like Anheuser-Busch are breaking into the market. Who knows, bring along this brew and you might make yourself a new friend.
5. Plates and utensils — For many of you, tailgating lasts hours. Many hours mean multiple rounds of food. Often you are uncomfortably left carrying around a plate smeared with some type of sauce and other food debris in-between rounds. Here comes the pivotal moment: Throw it away or save it for the third helping of guac? At first, it's really easy to hang on to, but then after 15, 30 or 45 minutes, you feel annoyed and awkward. You glance around and walk over to the trash, then surreptitiously throw your stuff away. Over the course of the day you end up using two or three plates, and the garbage piles up.
I still encourage you to reuse your plates (reusable dishware in general is preferable), but, if this is too much of a hassle, there are many earth-friendlier options you can try out. Many brands manufacture products with a more lightweight plastic, and there are also various compostable options available. While these products can be a bit pricier, I think they're worth it.
Try out these tips this weekend. Start one at a time. Try one, if it just doesn't work out, move on to the next. Until next time, go green, go Irish.
Email your predicaments to The GreenMan at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him answer you with a sustainable twist.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.