The Greenest Super Bowl Ever?

With the weekend quickly approaching, there’s one thing that’s on the minds of most Americans- the Super Bowl. Super Bowl XLVIII will be held at New Jersey’s Metlife Stadium, the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, this Sunday, Feb. 2nd. The teams competing for the ultimate prize in football are from Denver and Seattle, arguably two of the greenest cities in America. But no matter how green a city is, NFL games are usually anything but environmentally-friendly events. Metlife Stadium has a seating capacity of over 82,000. That means that more than 82,000 people will be transporting themselves to the stadium, many by car, and consuming hundreds of thousands of food and drink items, each with its own paper cup or plate that will inevitably be discarded shortly after the purchase. As a matter of fact, Metlife Stadium alone produced 195 tons of food waste in 2013. Fortunately for the environmentally conscious, the NFL actually does take the environment into consideration occasionally, and promises us that Super Bowl XLVIII will be the greenest Super Bowl to date.

While it is true that the NFL promises every Super Bowl will be the greenest yet (at least for the last 20 years), Jack Groh, longtime director of the NFL’s environmental program said in a statement, “we try and stay ahead of the curve. We try and push the envelope every year.” This year is no exception. Not only is Metlife Stadium already one of the greenest NFL stadiums, complete with bike racks, LED lighting, waterless urinals, and seats made from recycled plastic, but it also has one of the best recycling programs in the league. This year, to do even more, Metlife Stadium officials have initiated a composting program for the first time in NFL history that hopes to turn every bit of food waste from Super Bowl XLVIII into fertilizer. All leftover non-scrap food will be donated to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and local charities. All leftover oil used in cooking will also be converted in biofuel and used to power backup generators at Metlife Stadium. The NFL also sponsored an e-waste drive where people turned in their old cell phones and other devices to be properly disposed of, as well as a campaign that was responsible for planting thousands of trees in the NYC metropolitan area to offset the amount of carbon emissions from the Super Bowl.

So while the Super Bowl may still be far from a carbon-neutral event, the NFL is at least putting forth a decent effort to reduce the event’s environmental impact. Even if it is only a small step, it is still a step in the right direction. And at the very least, we have many more green initiatives and environmentally conscious changes to look forward to with the future of the NFL.