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Easy being green: MLB celebrates Earth Day

Environmental responsibility takes on many forms at ballparks as teams chip in

Fans can take selfies before Wednesday night's game in Philadelphia with a seven-foot Phillie Phanatic made of moss and flowers, drop off unwanted items to be recycled at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, see food composted into energy in Cleveland or watch a mini-bus tour that starts at AT&T Park as San Francisco's mayor announces a new campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In Cincinnati, plans are being unveiled for what might be the greenest All-Star Week in history. In Minnesota, where Target Field boasts not one but two LEED silver certifications, the Twins released an infographic showing that 5,419 tons of waste have been diverted from local landfills and about 4.3 million gallons of rainwater have been captured, purified and reused.

These are just some of the things happening all over Major League Baseball for the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. More than anything, it is a symbolic reminder for everyone to reduce their carbon footprints and be involved in environmental stewardship 365 days a year.

"The Minnesota Twins organization believes our future success -- both on and off the field -- is built on a business model that embraces operational efficiency, environmental stewardship and social responsibility," said Dave St. Peter, president of a club whose facility is branded as "The Greenest Ballpark In America." "Through the following efforts, we have reduced our overall impact on the environment while we continue to seek ways to improve the sustainability of Target Field."

"It's important not to be wasteful, and for all of us, it's important to recycle," Red Sox right fielder Allen Craig said. "Whether it's Earth Day, we are in the public spotlight and it's definitely good to make an example of doing things the right way. We have a platform and it's important to take advantage of those opportunities."

There's a lot of that going around as individual clubs conduct their own events as part of the overall MLB Greening Program, started in conjunction with the National Resources Defense Council.

Mary Ann Moyer, the Phillies' director of community initiatives, said the Phillies are continuing to give away 250 complementary trees, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the club's partner for their Home Run for Trees initiative. Moyer described the many plans in store for fans who attend Wednesday's night game against Miami for their second annual Citizens Bank Red Goes Green Night.

"We'll have 10 vendors there, so when fans enter through the first-base gate, they can stop by the vendors and learn more about how to be more sustainable in their community," Moyer said.

For example, Phil the Can, the Phillies' recyclable fan will be on site, and there will be sightings of one-winged Jackson the Owl, who was rehabbed and is cared for at The Schuylkill Center. Fans will get tips on how to be more sustainable, thanks to the EPA's exhibit table. There will be information on how to grow food locally, courtesy of the Food Policy Advisory Council from the Mayor's Office of Sustainability, and people will learn how to reuse building materials at a "Build a Sustainable PA" display.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee is using this day to announce the new "0 - 50 - 100 - Roots" campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of his Earth Day Climate Action Bus Tour. The campaign demonstrates the city's commitment to send zero waste to the landfill, reach 50 percent sustainable travel, use 100 percent renewable energy and pull carbon dioxide out of the air. Giants president and CEO Larry Baer is scheduled to participate in the tour.

In honor of Earth Day, the Mariners are staging a carbon neutral game through carbon offsets, renewable energy credits and water restoration certificates. Mariners sustainability partners including BASF, PlanLED, Seadrunar Recycling, Seattle City Light, Puget Sound Energy, ARAMARK, Centerplate and Seattle Public Utilities, will be recognized during a pregame ceremony.

MLB announced that it will again ensure that the 86th Annual All-Star Game and All-Star Week incorporate environmentally intelligent features. For example, materials used will be all-recyclable paper products, and grass clippings from Great American Ball Park field will be transferred to external green space areas to act as natural fertilizer for these green spaces and only organic fertilizers on their playing field.

In an effort to reduce the week's environmental footprint, more than 512,000 kWh of energy and 175,000 gallons of water used during the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and XM All-Star Futures Game will be offset with Green-e Certified Renewable Energy Credits and water restoration credits supplied by Bonneville Environmental Foundation. In addition, player travel to and from Cincinnati will be offset through carbon offsets provided by Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

Great American Ball Park features 175 recycling bins, providing many opportunities for fans to recycle items. To reinforce this message, All-Star Green Teams will collect recyclables and interact with fans at All-Star Week events throughout the week both at the ballpark and at other events. There will be an All-Star Walking Path to encourage fans taking part in the activities to walk rather than drive. The red carpet used during the MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet will be made of 100-percent recycled fiber and later recycled.

In St. Louis, the Cardinals will host their sixth annual Green Week (#4aGreenerGame), Monday through April 30, with activities designed to promote recycling, both inside and outside of Busch Stadium. To kick off Green Week festivities, the Cardinals are hosting an electronics recycling and general donations on Wednesday in collaboration with MERS/Goodwill. Fans may drop off unused or unwanted computers and electronic equipment at donation trailers in the Lot C Parking Lot, located at the corner of 8th Street and Cerre Street, immediately south of I-64/40.

In Cleveland, the Indians and concessionaire Delaware North are playing host to a Greening Awareness event on Wednesday. The event will highlight the recycling efforts at Progressive Field with full participation from club vendors including these examples: Quasar (composting of food items to energy), Filta Fray (recycling fry grease) and Gateway Recycling (recycling all cardboard and paper products).

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog.