Pirates show shades of green for Earth Day

April 22nd, 2021

The Pirates are going a brighter shade of green this Earth Day, as they unveiled some new and updated sustainable features and practices in cooperation with Duquesne Light Company.

The partnership features two key elements: The Duquesne Light Power Hitters program and the re-opening of the PNC Park Urban Garden, which is powered by Duquesne Light.

The former program is aimed at helping communities in the Pittsburgh area receive, in effect, heat relief. Many of the underserved areas in urban Pittsburgh don’t have the same tree cover to offset the enhanced absorption of sunlight and heat. Through the Duquesne Light Power Hitters initiative, Duquesne Light and Pirates Charities will plant one tree for each home run a Pirate hits this season.

The urban garden at PNC Park is located on the suite level, and it provides about 300 lbs of fresh produce each season. Beyond providing a touch of green to the ballpark, the food grown in the garden is used as ingredients for dishes created by Aramark and PNC Park’s executive chef Pastor Jimenez.

“We are incredibly proud of this partnership with Duquesne Light and to be able to join with them on these very important year-round initiatives,” said Pirates chairman Bob Nutting in a statement. “We work year after year to utilize our unique public position to promote the importance of sustainable practices and improve on our efforts and make a true impact throughout PNC Park and the Pittsburgh community.”

These initiatives bolster the ongoing "Let's Go Bucs, Let's Go Green" program. Through it, the Pirates say they divert more than 70 percent of waste from the ballpark out of the waste stream each year; their diversion rate of 75 percent last season earned them a Green Glove Award from Major League Baseball for the highest rate in the National League Central.

The Pirates are also helping fight hunger and reduce food waste by donating unused food to 412 Food Rescue. Last year, they gave away 600 pounds of leftover, untouched and frozen food from the ballpark to the organization which helps recover food to feed hungry individuals in the Pittsburgh area.

Pirates players are also speaking up about the effects of pollution on our planet. Gregory Polanco was a guest on a webinar hosted by Players for the Planet and Project Green Schools.

Three of the organization’s prospects -- Christopher Cruz, Luis Gonzalez, and Wandi Montout -- participated in the online education program as well, and they shared their thoughts on sustainability and waste reduction after watching the documentary “Isla de Plastico,” or “Island of Plastic.” All three spoke through an interpreter from Players for the Planet.

“We use a great amount of plastic and we throw it away like nothing, as if it doesn’t affect the world,” Cruz said. “In reality, it’s wrong.”

“All that contamination, sooner or later, will hurt us,” Montout said.

“If we begin doing it ourselves and we tell our family and they begin contributing,” Gonzalez said of reducing plastic waste, “I think it could lower the probability that we see all that plastic in the water.”

For more on what the Pirates are doing to promote going green, click here.