MLB celebrates 'Earth Day' by highlighting sustainability efforts

Major League Baseball is celebrating 'Earth Day' (Sunday, April 22nd) by highlighting a variety of league-wide sustainability efforts activated by MLB and its clubs.

April 19th, 2018

Major League Baseball is celebrating 'Earth Day' (Sunday, April 22nd) by highlighting a variety of league-wide sustainability efforts activated by MLB and its clubs. Key initiatives include 'GREEN TEAMS' and sustainability-focused activations during MLB All-Star Week in Washington, D.C., partnerships with Arizona State University & Change the Course, front office volunteer efforts as well as efforts led by MLB Clubs.
'GREEN TEAMS' & Sustainable Activations During 2018 All-Star Week
Major League Baseball will continue to support sustainable efforts during its Midsummer Classic in Washington, D.C. this coming July. During All-Star Week (Thursday, July 12th-Tuesday, July 17th), MLB will partner with George Washington University and Georgetown University to activate 'GREEN TEAMS,' a group of students that encourages environmental awareness during MLB All-Star events. 'GREEN TEAM' efforts include a college course with a sustainability focus, collecting recyclables at ballpark and community events, and educating fans on positive environmental practices. 'GREEN TEAM' members will also participate in a special All-Star environmental volunteer event at Richard England Clubhouse #14 of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.
MLB will also seek to offset the environmental footprint of player travel, to and from Washington, D.C., as well as offsetting energy and water used at Nationals Park by purchasing renewable energy credits and water restoration credits in conjunction with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and the Change the Course program. Additionally, MLB will encourage fans to walk or take public transportation in between events with a special 'Kaiser Permanente All-Star Green Path.'
Special Spring Training Activations with Arizona State University & Change the Course
Major League Baseball and Arizona State University collaborated on a unique and groundbreaking sustainability partnership during 2018 Spring Training presented by Camping World. Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Spring Training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, was the focus site of the "Recycle Rally" initiative that tested and implemented zero waste strategies with the overarching goals of reducing landfill impact, increasing operational efficiencies, and improving the fan experience across all Cactus League ballparks.
MLB also partnered with Change the Course, a national freshwater restoration campaign, to offset 100% of water usage in the Cactus League this year by rehabilitating endangered watersheds. MLB balanced the water footprint of the Cactus League and helped restore five million gallons of freshwater in critically depleted rivers and streams across Arizona. The offset of water funded the Colorado River Basin and tributaries, primarily supporting the Verde River.
Upcycling With Refried Tees
As part of its green initiative, Major League Baseball recognizes upcycling as an innovative means toward a green and sustainable future. In support of those efforts, MLB licensee Refried Tees is proud to display MLB's Official Green Label on its Twice-Baked™ Apparel. Refried Tees helps teams and licensees cycle surplus inventory back into the marketplace by transforming dead-stock tee shirts and jerseys into stylish apparel such as dresses, skirts and t-shirts.
MLB Front Office to Volunteer at Local Variety Boys & Girls Clubs
April 21st in Queens, N.Y. - In celebration of Earth Day, front office employees at MLB, MLB Network and MLB Advanced Media will volunteer at the Variety Boys & Girls Club in Queens, N.Y. Volunteers will be tasked with revitalizing the Club, including planting flowers and building raised planters for the garden, enhancing the media room and building a small, portable library for Club members.
MLB to Donate Excess Food Following 'MLB FoodFest'
Following the first-ever 'MLB FoodFest', Major League Baseball will donate excess food to City Harvest, the world's first food rescue organization, dedicated to helping feed the nearly 1.3 million New Yorkers facing hunger. 'MLB Foodfest' is a one-of-a kind indoor food festival featuring special selections from each of the 30 MLB Clubs served under one roof. The event will be held over two days beginning on Saturday, April 21st and concluding on Sunday, April 22nd in New York City.
Club Initiatives
Major League Baseball was the first professional sports league to have all of its Clubs as members of the Green Sports Alliance, which promotes healthy, sustainable communities in sports. In fact, MLB Clubs diverted more than 20,000 tons of recycled or composted waste during the 2017 season. Each year, MLB awards the eco-friendliest Club with its 'Green Glove Award,' with the Seattle Mariners winning for the first time in 2017.
MLB Clubs also emphasize sustainability efforts through waste diversion, composting, and energy efficient practices throughout the season. Efforts include comprehensive LED field lighting, recycling efforts, on-site gardens, conscious usage of water and electricity and more. Following are examples of practices by MLB Clubs:
LED Lighting
By the end of 2018, fifteen MLB Clubs (Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers) will have installed LED Field Lighting. In addition to enhancing the fan experience, LED fixtures are more energy efficient and have a lifespan of thirty years.
A number of Clubs have taken significant steps to adopt more sustainable practices for ballpark lighting. The Astros have retrofitted light fixtures in their front office spaces and converted center field lighting to LED. The Phillies replaced field light towers with LED lamps and installed LED lighting in their clubhouse. The Indians have replaced 75% of office lights with LED lighting. The Arizona Diamondbacks recently replaced fluorescent lighting along the ballpark concourses with energy-efficient LED lighting, reducing the main concourse lighting power consumption by 60% in these areas. The Pirates reduced their energy demand by over 2,000 kWD with the new installation of ballpark field lights, while the Detroit Tigers and the New York Mets continue to replace high-watt light fixtures with low-watt LED fixtures.
In 2017, the Seattle Mariners led the league in recycling practices, with 96% of waste at Safeco Field being diverted from landfills. Similarly, the San Francisco Giants divert 93% of all waste at AT&T Park. While many Clubs recycle electronics, paper, cans and bottles used at their ballparks, Club-led recycling practices have also been extended beyond this approach. The Kansas City Royals recycled 15.49 tons of glass last season, almost doubling their 2016 number. The Club collaborated with Ripple Glass, a local glass recycling company, to achieve the feat. The New York Yankees use compostable cutlery and food-service packaging, trays, boxes, plates and cups, instead of non-compostable petroleum-based plastics. Food waste is also composted and not landfilled, and cardboard, glass, metal, plastics and paper are also recycled, with the Yankees diverting approximately 85% of their total waste from landfills. The Arizona Diamondbacks also run an extensive recycling program, including placing 200 dual recycling bins throughout Chase Field. In partnership with Levy, The D-backs also launched a comprehensive compost collection to divert 50 tons of organic materials at Chase Field from landfills. During 2017, the Club achieved a 22% decrease in waste sent to landfills and a 170% increase in recycling tonnage using the new bins. The Minnesota Twins send waste collected at the ballpark to the Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center, where it is incinerated and converted to energy that powers some of the downtown grid. Steam produced from the incineration process is used to heat parts of Target Field. Through their efforts, the Twins composted a total of 281 tons of organic material in 2017. The Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets compost construction materials or debris, with the Phillies recycling 15 tons of construction material after renovations made to Citizen's Bank Park during the offseason. To further their recycling efforts, the Mets and the Washington Nationals will implement 'GREEN TEAMS' at their respective ballparks. The Houston Astros provide single stream recycling opportunities for fans as well as engage in cardboard, pallet and electronic recycling - maintaining a 5% increase in their diversion rate each year. Other efforts include the Pittsburgh Pirates diverting more than 1,300 tons of waste from going to landfills; the Cincinnati Reds placing 200 recycle bins throughout Great American Ball Park; and the Tampa Bay Rays increasing the number of recycling bins located at Tropicana Field.
Local Communities
A number of Clubs contribute to the well-being of their local communities as part of their sustainability initiatives. The Cleveland Indians will plant a large number of trees as part of their Field for the Future program, which focuses on refurbishing inner city parks and baseball fields. The Seattle Mariners are collaborating with Sound Transit, the official public transit agency in Seattle, to provide free access to Mariners fans traveling to Safeco Field. As part of this unique activation, the Mariners have collaborated with local stakeholders, architects, and artists to implement an urban design on the pathway from the Stadium Light Rail station to Safeco Field itself. Elements of this design include graphics and anamorphic paint on the bridge and columns as well as a brightly painted mural featuring an iconic Ken Griffey Jr. moment on a building across the street. The Los Angeles Dodgers have removed approximately 29,150 square feet of asphalt from parking lot spaces and entry gates to create landscaped islands in areas that were not used for parking or for vehicular circulation. Approximately 540 trees have been planted or moved from construction areas and relocated on site since 2012, including almost 100 fruit trees. The Dodgers have also planted a diverse set of plants species - most of them being drought tolerant, including ground covers, bedding plants and shrub-size plants. Clubs, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Cincinnati Reds, and Cleveland Indians, the Minnesota Twins and the Washington Nationals, donate food to local food banks and organizations. The Reds also donate discontinued and excess clothing, office supplies and kitchenware to local non-profit organizations.
Water Use
Clubs are also conscious of their water consumption, with teams like the San Francisco Giants increasing their field water efficiency by installing a new underground sprinkler system. This enhancement allows the field manager to address any microclimates on the field without overwatering, creating a more consistent playing surface. Through careful monitoring and high efficiency plumbing fixtures, Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees) saves more than 3 million gallons of water each year - a reduction of 22% from water use prior to 2009. With their Pentair rainwater collection system, the Minnesota Twins save an average of 2 million gallons of water per year - reducing their need for municipal water by over 50%. Other efforts include the Cincinnati Reds installing pedal faucet controls in all concession areas and replacing existing urinals with .125 Gallons per Flush units; and the Philadelphia Phillies replacing a domestic water pump with a variable-frequency drive (VFD) motor-driven pump.
Electricity Use
Nine MLB Clubs (Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and St. Louis Cardinals) utilize solar power at their ballparks. Prior to the start of the 2018 season, the Padres installed the largest solar power system in all of MLB. The system will produce over 12 million-kilowatt hours over the next 25 years, and is expected to save millions of dollars over the course of its lifetime.
Additionally, the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees will purchase millions of kilowatt-hours of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to match 100% of electricity usage with wind or solar generation. Since purchasing their first RECs in 2008, the Phillies have purchased 242 million kilowatt-hours. The St. Louis Cardinals will increase its commitment to Green Power, by approximately 12,000 RECs, enough to offset all of its game-day energy usage for the entire season. Similarly, the Indians purchased 100% Green e-certified wind energy from FirstEnergy for the 2018 Championship Season.
To further minimize their energy usage, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers replaced paper towel dispensers with hand dryers. The effort by the D-backs resulted in the removal of 350 miles of paper towels from the waste stream.
LEED Certification
Six Major League ballparks - AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants), Marlins Park (Miami Marlins), Nationals Park (Washington Nationals), Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles), SunTrust Park (Atlanta Braves) and Target Field (Minnesota Twins) - are LEED-certified in various aspects of their operation. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications are given to buildings that meet strict guidelines for environmental responsibility by using less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
AT&T Park, Marlins Park, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Target Field are all LEED Gold-certified, the highest level of the certification. Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Spring Training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, was the first LEED Gold-certified sports venue of its kind in the U.S. when it opened in 2011. The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are currently pursuing LEED Silver certification at their Spring Training facility, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Gardens and Farms at Ballparks
Eleven Major League ballparks, including AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants), Busch Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals), Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks), Citi Field (New York Mets), Coors Field (Colorado Rockies), Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox), Nationals Park (Washington Nationals), Oakland Coliseum (Oakland Athletics), Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles), Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians) and Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners) currently operate their own gardens or farms. The gardens at AT&T Park, Busch Stadium, Fenway Park, Coors Field, Nationals Park, Progressive Field and Safeco Field are all utilized to source food for concession stands and restaurants at the ballpark. In addition to providing food for the stadium, the gardens also serve as a teaching tool to inform the public about the importance of their local environment, a ballpark tour highlight, and as fan-gathering spots throughout a game.
In 2018, the Pittsburgh Pirates will partner with Rivendale Farms, a farm nestled in Pittsburgh, to develop a Suite Patio Rooftop Garden. The garden will be nourished by the compost byproducts from concession stands at PNC Park. During the offseason, the Indians added two additional spaces to their in-stadium garden. The Oakland Athletics debuted the A's Farm at the Coliseum at the start of the season. The urban farm area consists of dozens of large redwood planters that will grow an assortment of produce and flowers, and it will feature picnic tables and benches for fans to enjoy during the game. In partnership with UnitedHealthCare, the D-backs debuted a vertical garden on the exterior of Chase Field - the first of its kind in all of MLB. The produce grown is harvested by local groups and donated to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul - a non-profit organization focused on providing individualized care, nourishment and resources to those in need.
Special Earth Day Activations
Arizona Diamondbacks: The Arizona Diamondbacks will celebrate Earth Day with a harvest of the D-backs Greens Urban Garden, presented by UnitedHealthcare and in partnership with Flower Street Urban Gardens. This Sunday, April 22nd, the vegetables and herbs harvested from the D-backs Greens garden will be donated to Kitchen on the Street. In addition, Flower Street Urban Gardens will provide a free garden to one school and one business. Other efforts will include educating fans on leading a more sustainable lifestyle through special messaging at Chase Field and the Dean of Arizona State University School of Sustainability Chris Boone throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Baltimore Orioles: All Orioles players and coaches will wear green-accented jerseys and caps to celebrate Earth Day on Sunday, April 22nd. The game-worn jerseys and caps will be autographed, authenticated, and auctioned online at [] to benefit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. As part of the Orioles Birdland Community Heroes program, which recognizes community heroes at each weekend home game who have inspired others through their spirited commitment to extend a hand in charity, service, hope and harmony, the Orioles will recognize a volunteer from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as the Community Hero also on Sunday, April 22. In addition, the Orioles will make a $2,500 donation to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in honor of the Birdland Community Hero, a portion of the $300,000 pledge the Orioles and the Orioles Charitable Foundation made for Birdland Community Heroes prior to the start of the 2018 season.
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox will collaborate with partners from Waste Management and Aramark to conduct a post-game waste sort, as well as engage fans on sustainability practices with games, trivia, and giveaways.
Chicago White Sox: The Chicago White Sox, along with concessionaire partners, Delaware North Sportservice, Gibson's ChiSox Bar & Grill and Levy, are joining Shedd Aquarium's "Shedd The Straw" initiative, with the goal of reducing the use of single-use plastic straws at Guaranteed Rate Field for the rest of the season. Beginning Earth Day, drinks at all locations throughout the Ballpark - including concessions, premium seating areas as well as ChiSox Bar & Grill - will be served without straws. Guests will be provided biodegradable straws upon request.
Detroit Tigers: The Detroit Tigers will collaborate with The Greening Detroit, a local non-profit organization, to enhance the quality of life for Detroiters by planting trees, repurposing the land to create beautiful and productive green spaces as well as helping communities rebuild their neighborhoods. Fans attending the Detroit vs. Kansas City game on Sunday, April 22nd had the opportunity to purchase a ticket package that included a donation to The Greening Detroit, and a special edition Tigers-themed Earth Day t-shirt. That ticket package is now sold out.
Los Angeles Dodgers: In celebration of Earth Day, the Los Angeles Dodgers are partnering with City Plants, City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks, the Office of Councilmember Gil Cedillo, Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District, Los Angeles Conservation, and Arroyo Seco Museum Science Magnet to plant 60 new trees in Sycamore Grove Park, one for each year the Dodgers have played in Los Angeles. The team will also be signing up LA residents for home delivery of free shade trees at Sunday's Viva Los Dodgers.
Seattle Mariners: Front office employees at the Seattle Mariners will celebrate Earth Day throughout the entire month of April, with volunteer opportunities at urban farms and non-profit organizations.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Direct Energy, the North American retailer of energy and energy services, will offer the Pittsburgh Pirates 100% renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) on Earth Day, meaning all energy used will come from a renewable energy source.
"We are proud of the strides our sport has made to become more environmentally-conscious," said Paul Hanlon, Senior Director of Ballpark Operations & Sustainability, Major League Baseball. "As a team, we continue to implement meaningful sustainability practices, while understanding that the evaluation of our efforts must be ongoing. We look forward to continue working with our Clubs to improve Baseball's environmental impact."