When it comes to sports, zero waste may not be the first thing we think about when juggling practice, gear, snacks, and game time. However, reducing waste at sporting events is not as hard as you might think. Castro Valley Sanitary District (CVSan) has developed a handy Event Greening Resource Guide to help you manage recycling and composting stations at sporting events.

Want to know how you can improve waste reduction at sporting events? A great first step is identifying what gets wasted, and then trying new strategies to help reduce waste. First, look at what ends up in the garbage and consider if it could have been replaced with something reusable, recyclable, or compostable. Include other teammates, coaches, and league volunteers in this process as well. Once people know what is being wasted and why, they will be willing to work together to help reduce the amount of waste at your sporting events.

Being a coach is usually enough to keep you busy on practice or game day. However, there are always quick ways to get your team thinking about zero waste too. First, ask your team to bring reusable water bottles and reusable containers for snacks instead of disposables. Second, your team can “pack out” or take home everything they bring with them to the game. When things are left on the field or in the stands, they end up as litter and are thrown into the garbage, but having the team take everything home may ensure more items are sorted into recycling and composting, so they end up in the right waste stream.

What happens with old equipment that you can no longer use? If there is no one to give it away to, consider selling it to a retailer like Play It Again Sports. If it is no longer usable, consider recycling options, such as through Terracycle, where you can recycle all sorts of sports balls and equipment. You can also rent equipment.

Snack wrappers can create a lot of waste at sporting events. One way to limit the waste created by wrappers is to buy items in bulk and to bring snacks in reusable containers instead. Many of us are accustomed to carrying our own reusable water bottles with us, and in the same way, it is becoming common to carry reusable snack containers and bags too.

When it is your family’s turn to bring snacks for the whole team, provide snacks that are self-wrapped, or wrapped in compostable or recyclable packaging.

  • Fruit such as mandarin oranges, bananas, and apples are healthy and nature has pre-wrapped them!
  • Individual boxes of raisins, yogurt-covered raisins, cranberries, Cracker Jack, and mini cereal boxes are packaged in compostable and recyclable paper boxes.
  • When the occasion calls for a little something extra, candy such as Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Roll Pops, Starburst, and White Rabbit Creamy Candy have wax paper wrapping and paper sticks that are compostable.

Terracycle offers mail-back recycling programs (which can be free for schools, groups, and teams) for common wrappers and juice pouches that are a large part of sporting event leftover waste. Some companies with snack wrappers or juice pouches offer free company-specific programs as well. Check out all of Terracycle’s collection programs. In CVSan, items in bags and wrappers can be recycled in the bag-a-bag recycling program; clear and translucent sandwich/snack plastic bags which are mostly clean, can be bundled with other plastic bags and film/wrap materials and placed in the recycling cart.




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