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It’s football season and that means it’s time to gear up for some tailgate party fun!
In this post, I’ll share some simple swaps to make your next tailgate party an eco-friendly one! And that’s a win for everyone!
The heart of any tailgate party is the food, right? Right!!
Whether you are going all out with a full-on BBQ feast or just a few bags of chips it’s easy to make eco-friendly choices!
The goal when purchasing processed snacks for your tailgate party is to keep packaging waste to a minimum.
One way to do that is to buy your snacks in bulk versus small, individual containers. Plus if you stock up on bulk items you’ll be set for next week’s game too!
If you’re going all out for your tailgate party feast, purchasing foods produced or grown locally is an easy eco-friendly swap.
Look for local vendors (think Farmer’s Markets!) to reduce the distance products have to travel to get to you. This helps reduce the amount of fuel needed and in turn conserves natural resources.
If you’re firing up the BBQ at your tailgate, aim for pasture and/or humanely raised meat. These practices are not only better for the animals themselves but they also use methods that are better for the environment like skipping pesticides or antibiotics.
Fire Up the Grill
I don’t want to rain on your BBQ parade but before you fire up the grill at your next tailgate party, give some thought to your charcoal.
While your small tailgate party BBQ isn’t likely to contribute much, charcoal BBQ grilling does give off carbon monoxide and soot which can contribute to air pollution.
There is an easy fix to this – use natural lump coal instead of traditional briquettes. Your tailgate party burger or dog will still taste delicious!
Here are a few eco-friendly options:
A close second in importance to your tailgate party food is the drinks! And, by drinks I mean, beer!
When it comes to beer the easiest way to go eco-friendly is to choose a brew from an eco-friendly brewery.
I did a little “research” and tested out a few beers from breweries that are eco-minded and use sustainable practices in their brewing process.
In addition, I needed to make sure the beer was easy to find and purchase locally. I have to be able to run into my local liquor store that’s on my regular route if I’m going to purchase it.
I found both of these easily!
I tried Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Lager and thought it was great.
They are a NY based company that supports their local community and the environment through a variety of green and sustainable practices.
Read more about Brookly Brewery HERE https://brooklynbrewery.com/sustainability
New Belgium Brewery
I also tried a great beer from New Belgium Brewery called Fat Tire. It’s a beer I’ve had previously but didn’t realize how environmentally friendly they are.
Their website includes information about all of the eco-friendly initiatives and goals they are pursuing as well as metrics and stats on their progress.
I’m impressed – and happy to support their efforts by including their beers at my next tailgate party!
You can read more about New Belgium HERE
You can also make some eco-friendly strides at your tailgate party by considering what you serve your food in, what you eat on and what you drink out of.
The key idea here is to always be thinking about ways you can create less trash with whatever tailgate party dishes you use or if you are purchasing pre-made food. The more reusable the better!
It seems like a given that you should bring disposables with you to a tailgate. I say, break out of that thinking and bring along the real stuff!
Trays and Dishes
Whether you are making a yummy cheesy dip, spicy chicken wings or a dozen team colored cupcakes, opt for containers that are reusable and can be taken back home to be washed.
If you’re worried about casserole dishes breaking during transport, an option that can be recycled and/or reused is aluminum trays.
These aluminum trays are sturdy enough to cook and heat in as well as stand up to more than just one use making them reusable.
Cups, Plates & Utensils
There are lots of reusable plastic (BPA free) versions of cups, plates and bowls that are sure to coordinate with your team colors. Just stock up once and you’re set for seasons to come!
I’m a big fan of these from Preserve.
And for utensils, I say bring the real thing! It’s easy to pick up an inexpensive set of cutlery. I grabbed mine from Ikea but these will do the trick as well.
You’re also probably going to need to have some napkins on hand and – you’re going to think I’m crazy but I recommended bringing along cloth napkins.
It’s a fun way to incorporate your team colors and it also cuts down on trash for sure.
They are inexpensive and easy to wash for reuse. There are lots and lots of options. Here is just one.
A tailgate party isn’t the same without some team inspired decorations like banners, flags and fun tableware. And you guessed it, there are also eco-friendlier ways to show your spirit.
Banners, Flags & Balloons
Items like banners and flags are likely to be used game after game, and even year after year. Reusing them makes them more eco-friendly – easy!
Balloons are another go-to decoration at many tailgates but unfortunatley I’m going to have to burst your balloon. 🙁
Neither mylar or latex balloons are very eco-friendly. They aren’t recyclable and often end up in waterways or other areas where animals mistake them for food causing them a lot of harm.
However, I did come across an intersting concept regarding mylar balloons – reuse them! Yep, you heard me!
Apparently you can deflate and re-inflate mylar balloons with your own helium tank.
I was intrigued by this and found a good YouTube video (of course!) demonstrating how to do it!
If you do go with a helium balloon, 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’s plastic and 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!
Your tablecloth is an easy way to decorate your tailgate – and another easy chance to go greener!
When selecting tablecloths to decorate your food-filled tailgate feast be sure to opt for a reusable version instead of a disposable one!! 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 fold up your tablecloth and pop it into the wash when you get home! SO easy!
Clean Up Time
To make clean up easier, be sure to set up separate bins at the start of the tailgate and make sure guests know what goes into each – and NOT all in the trash!
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 utensils 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 portable recycling bins so you can bring recyclables home to be disposed of properly. They make sorting trash and recycling super easy – and they come in fun patterns – even a football theme!
And for any trash (aka landfill) you have, en eco-friendly option is to use trash bags that are NOT made of plastic. I love these two great options from Hippo Sak.
I get it, you may not be ready to dive in and implement all of these eco-friendly ideas at once.
However, see if you can challenge yourself to implement at least a few at your next tailgate party.