How Sustainable Is Super Bowl LVII Between the Eagles and Chiefs?
The NFL is working on making Super Bowl LVII between the Eagles and Chiefs its most planet-friendly game yet. Here's what you should know.
With thousands of fans packing themselves into a giant stadium every year, it can be hard to imagine how the Super Bowl is sustainable.
The annual event is more than just a football game. It's all about the big stadium, the trophy, the commercials, and even the parties. But believe it or not, the Super Bowl is more sustainable than most people realize. And the NFL is mindful of its carbon footprint.
Environmental Impact of Sporting Events as a Whole
Studies show millions of Americans tune into football games, whether they're viewing casually or are major fans. Last year, more than 99 million viewers tuned into the 2022 Super Bowl.
With a massive audience, organizations need to pay close attention to the environmental impact of these sporting events. And big-time sports leagues like the NFL and the MBA can have a major influence on the people watching.
Some of the world’s largest sporting events cause what are often unforeseen environmental consequences. Whether cities need to build new infrastructure to handle the mass crowds, upgrade the sanitation capabilities, increase energy capabilities, or find ways to manage food and waste, it all has a major impact on the environment. Not to mention, many viewers host watch parties, creating more waste and transportation emissions on a national level.
According to Waste Management, the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL create roughly 35,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year—and that figure only represents waste generated by fans.
Now think about how much electricity it takes to power just one sports stadium, how much water and resources it takes to maintain fields, and how much food, alcohol, and merchandise are sold at games. America's beloved sporting events have a massive impact on the environment.
NFL’s Efforts to Increase Sustainability Efforts
The NFL has one of the largest commitments to making the Super Bowl as sustainable as possible. To reach sustainability goals, the NFL has implemented NFL Green, an initiative to mitigate the environmental impact of the NFL's major events.
Specifically, this initiative works with stadiums and facilities to combat waste. NFL Green enhances waste management and recycling efforts, decreasing the waste entering the landfills. And not only is NFL Green decreasing material waste, but it's also working with food recovery systems to send unused food to local organizations.
NFL Green also hosts community efforts to restore ecosystems and habitats. Projects can include planting trees, creating green spaces and community gardens, restoring wildlife habitats, and engaging in reforestation projects to plant thousands of trees.
Green energy is also a major component of NFL Green's initiative. Each year, the NFL purchases Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) equivalent to the total energy used at events. This is how the NFL mitigates the energy usage and greenhouse gas impact of its major sporting events.
Super Bowl LVII (2023) Sustainability
Last year, the NFL, the Los Angeles Super Bowl LVI Host Committee, and Verizon worked together to make Super Bowl LVI greener. Specifically, the initiative detailed goals to improve air quality, build community gardens, increase food security, and restore a California kelp forest.
This year, Super Bowl LVII—which is between the Eagles and Chiefs and will take place in Phoenix, Arizona—is said to be one of the NFL's most sustainable efforts yet.
"There’s just increasing importance and focus on sustainability initiatives here in Arizona," said Jay Parry, host of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, told NBC Sports. "There’s a real focus and intention from our local stakeholders to make sure that we are really being mindful about how we conduct our major event and also just leaning into sustainable businesses here in Arizona."
The NFL is working alongside local Arizonans to "host an event with 92% waste diversion, a 20% increase from 2015," says Parry. In order to do this, the event is going to be very intentional about waste—"what should be recycled, what can be composted, and what needs to be actually, you know, end up in landfill," she adds.
In addition, 500 trees have been planted in Arizona over the course of six planting projects—and there are six more coming up. One of the main goals is to help Phoenix in its goal of becoming a "25% shade canopy," which can help lower city temperatures and reduce the heat island effect.
How to Contribute to a Smaller Footprint at the Super Bowl
While the NFL has taken major steps toward sustainability, it's true that the Super Bowl—and most sporting events—still come with a massive environmental impact. Fortunately, there are ways you can help make an impact.
1. Travel Sustainably
Traveling comes with increased emissions. Wherever you plan on going on Super Bowl Sunday, be sure to travel with the planet in mind.
Simply taking public transportation can decrease your carbon footprint—especially if you chose to travel during peak times. You can also consider flights that offset carbon emissions. And remember: the most eco-friendly thing to do is stay home.
Watching the Super Bowl in your living room may even be more fun than watching it at a crowded restaurant or stadium! Plus, you can make all the plant-based appetizers you want.
2. Be Mindful of Waste
Your at-home Super Bowl Sunday viewing may include lots of snacks. Whether you prefer homemade queso and chips or ordering takeout, your snack-filled day may generate a lot of waste, in terms of food, plastic, paper, and more.
Be sure to compost organic food waste when you can or save leftovers in reusable containers. Also, remember to recycle what you can.
If you attend sporting events in person, the same rules apply. Throw away waste in the appropriate bins: Most stadiums use a three-bin collection system for trash, recycling, and composting.
3. Host a Viewing Party
Hosting a watch party can conserve electricity usage. Instead of numerous households watching the game, just one is watching. Plus, you get bonus points if your guests can walk or take public transportation to get to you. Staying home also gives you total control over how much waste you produce.
The Super Bowl keeps getting greener, thanks to the NFL’s dedication to the environment and collaboration efforts with local organizations. With conscious efforts, we can all do our part to limit our carbon footprints, all while still enjoying our favorite sporting events.
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