Tampa Bay Sierrans Stash Trash on Super Bowl Sunday
On February 1, two dozen Sierra Club volunteers, above, ranging from age 20 to 86, partnered with the NFL Environmental Program to clean up after Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Florida. That's Marguerite and Don Pascoe of Venice, Florida, below, aged 83 and 86.
After the game's riveting conclusion, as happy Steelers fans and disappointed Cardinals fans left Raymond James Stadium, Sierrans scoured the stands, picking up aluminum cans, plastic cups, and bottles as part of the NFL's effort to recycle at all event venues. Volunteers bagged 22,000 recyclable items—approximately 1,000 per volunteer.
"These folks are all long-term volunteers with the Tampa Bay Group's 'Stash Your Cans' program, which has recycled at every college and professional football game at Raymond James Stadium for the past 18 years," says Florida Sierra Club organizer Phil Compton. "We show hundreds of thousands of fans annually how easy it is to recycle as they enter the stadium from tailgate parties." That's Compton at left, below, with Bill Hilbrands of Lithia, Florida. At right is NFL Environmental Program Director Jack Groh.
The Tampa Bay Group has been #1 in NFL recycling for all 18 years the Stash Your Cans program has operated. In gratitude, the Tampa Sports Authority donates up to $3,000 annually to the group, in addition to giving Stash Your Cans volunteers free seats at Tampa Bay Buccaneers and USF Bulls games.
"This kind of effort is necessary in states like Florida that lack container deposits, to facilitate recycling at events that include mass consumption of recyclables," Compton says. "This type of program could and should work at every other NFL and college football game in the U.S."
This year, volunteers sported green Sierra Club buttons on their red Super Bowl volunteer shirts and Sierra Club stickers on their windbreakers. "As the only Super Bowl Host Committee volunteers out of more than 6,000 total to actually get into the game—for free—our crew helped the NFL successfully identify another way to minimize its carbon footprint and act in a socially responsible manner," says Compton. Club volunteers also helped set up recycling at the NFL Media Center in the Tampa Convention Center.
The NFL Environmental Program adds environmental and social benefits to the economic benefits the Super Bowl brings to the host city by planting hundreds of trees, coordinating immediate distribution of all food leftovers to local food banks, and donating all venue signage to local non-profits for fundraising. On Super Bowl Sunday 2009, Tampa Bay Sierrans showed the NFL one more way to make a difference.
Photos by Phil Compton