Excited for football season??? Love tailgating with friends, family and fans before the big game with great food and drinks?? I say yes to both!!
So we agree that tailgating is great but it can be a challenge since you are taking your party on the road! Because I know you can do it, I’d like to throw another challenge out there – can you make your tailgate party eco-friendly too? I promise it’s easy – and worth it! Here’s how…
Toast To the Team!
Before the big game it’s all about the food and drinks, right? So, a first step to making your tailgate party eco-friendly is to consider the containers you’ll serve your food in. Whether you are making a yummy, cheesy dip or a dozen team colored cupcakes from scratch opt first for containers that are reusable and can be taken back home to be washed. If you’re worried about dishes breaking during transport a disposable option that can be recycled (we’ll get to more on that later!) is aluminum trays. They key idea here is to always be thinking about ways you can create less trash with whatever tailgate party dishes you use or even if you are purchasing pre-made food. The more reusable the better!
The same goes for cups, plates and silverware. It seems like a given that you should bring disposables with you to a tailgate but break out of that thinking and bring along the real stuff! There are lots of reusable plastic (BPA free) versions out there that are sure to coordinate with your team colors. Just stock up and you’re set for seasons to come!
If you can’t get into the idea of lugging home dirty dishes (read on for ideas to make it easy below!) choose compostable versions instead of plastic, paper or (the dreaded!) styrofoam! I like these cups, plates and cutlery. If your tailgating venue provides a compost bin on-site be sure that all of the compostables make their way into the bin at clean up time. To make sorting easier, be sure to set up a separate bin at the start of the tailgate and make sure guests know what goes into the bin! By the way, if you are able to compost at your tailgate location why not separate out food waste too for composting??
Show Your Team Spirit!
A tailgate party isn’t the same without some team inspired decorations like banners, balloons, flags and fun tableware. These items can also be made more eco-friendly. Items like banners and flags are likely to be used game after game and even year after year which is great. Other decorative items like balloons or fun tablecloths may need to be re-thought to make them eco-friendly.
If you choose to sport your team colors with balloons be sure to use latex balloons versus mylar. Latex balloons (the rubbery, stretchy ones) are biodegradable and will break down after a few months since they are made from a natural rubber. Mylar balloons (the shiny ones) are made with a nylon material and are not biodegradable.
Also consider the ribbon you use to tie down your bouquet of balloons. I had always used curly ribbon – the kind you can curl up with scissors – but after learning that it can’t be recycled (it can jam the recycling machinery) I made a switch. A great alternative is paper raffia ribbon which is totally recyclable in the paper bin AND it comes in lots of colors to coordinate with your balloons and tailgate party!
Tableware and napkins is another area where you get the chance to go greener! When selecting tablecloths to decorate your food-filled tailgate feast be sure to opt for a reusable version instead of disposables!! Not only will you keep lots of used tablecloths out of the landfill but you will also save money! When you’re packing up to head into the game simply wipe down and fold up your tablecloth ready to break out next time! Or if you opt for a cloth version, simply pop it into the wash when you get home!
Speaking of cloth, instead of bringing lots of paper napkins that are sure to end up in the trash provide tailgaters with cloth napkins instead. There are lots and lots of options out there that are sure to coordinate with your team colors. You may even be able to find them with your team logo! So cute!!
Two Minute Warning!
It’s almost game time so you’ve got to clean it up, pack it up and high tail it into the stadium for kick off! If you’ve done a little advance preparation this will be an easy score! Make it easy for yourself and set up separate bags/bins for each item from the start. For example, one bag for cloth napkins and tablecloths, another bag for your reusable plates, cups and silverware, another for recyclables, etc. You get the idea, right?
At clean up time all you have to do is grab your bag or bin of dirty reusable items and pack it into the car to take home for washing – and reuse next time! Be sure to let fellow tailgaters know where to “dispose” of their cloth napkin or silverware when they’re done with them so there will be less work for you!
For items that aren’t reusable, like cans and bottles, be sure to use the provided recycling bins in the parking lot. Hopefully your tailgating venue has lots of clearly marked bins for all sorts of recycling. If it doesn’t you can still recycle!! Consider using these great disposable recycling bins so you can bring recyclables home to be properly disposed of. They make sorting trash and recycling super easy – and they come in fun patterns – even a football theme!
So while you may not be ready to dive in and implement all of these eco-friendly ideas at once, see if you can challenge yourself to implement at least a few at your next tailgate party. Go team!!