One of the most beloved pastimes in America is attending sporting events. Whether you go alone or with family and friends, it’s hard to miss out on the chance to see your favorite team play, but with the popularity of sporting events comes an excessive amount of waste that can harm the environment.
In 2018 alone, the most highly attended sport in America was football. The average attendance per game in the season was 67,042. Next after that was baseball.
Considering the number of people attending events like these, think about the litter that comes from them. Contemplate the number of people that leave their waste on the ground and how that impacts our environment.
Huge amounts of trash are left in and around stadiums, fields and arenas, such as plastic bottles, food waste, plates and more. To give you an idea, major sporting events such as the SuperBowl can produce up to 750,000 plastic bottles alone.
When waste is left around these areas, it can lead to an unappealing view of the sporting view due to how dirty the area may look or smell. Waste can also be picked up by the wind and carried elsewhere, causing more problems.
Leftover waste at night can attract raccoons and other animals as well. The main issue at these events is that there is so much of it that it almost seems normalized to see a lot of trash build up.
It’s like going to the movies and getting a bag of popcorn. When some people finish the bag, they leave it in the theater rather than bringing it to the trash can on their way out.
In 2013, a conference called Leadership in Greening the Sports Industry was held.
Hosted by the Green Sports Alliance, their goal was to “Work with teams to understand and collect data, looking at the environmental baseline. We’re aggregating the data to better understand the impact of our members in this industry.”
The Green Sports Alliance was initially created in the United States in 2010, when the concern of litter at sporting events causing problems gained traction. Their goal was to understand how the games people play can negatively affect the environment and how to promote change to lessen it.
Elsewhere, London has already taken steps as well. In 2018, they held the first plastic-free sporting events.
Russell Seymour is the executive director of the British Association for Sustainable Sport. It is similar to the Green Sports Alliance in wanting to reduce the environmental impact from sporting events.
Seymour gave his thoughts on how sporting events can reduce negative influences on the environment:
“The sport sector has the opportunity to recognize these impacts and to communicate these issues to our spectators, fans and participants as a trusted ambassador in a non-political way alongside actions that individuals can take,” Seymour said.
Trying to reach zero litter should be the goal, but it will take an immense amount of collaboration as a Nation. For now, there are little things that can make a difference.
As a country, we should invest in more trash cans and recycle bins around sporting arenas, stadiums and fields. Trash cans that are overflowing enough for trash to fall out of are just as bad as trash already on the ground.
What can you do today as an individual to reduce litter at sporting events? Simply pick up after yourself, remind those around you to do the same and if you see litter around you, pick it up as well.