Even if you are not a Green Bay Packers or Pittsburgh Steelers fan, your heart is telling you to Go Green this Super Bowl Sunday, as in, root for the environment. But how do you get a room full of partying jocks to follow your lead? Come on, sports fans: Being an eco-mascot during the big game is as easy as sacking Jay Cutler in a Bears playoff match. (Will someone please tell me why the sorta-star quarterback of my home team turned into a Pod Person for the NFC championship? But I digress.)
If you're throwing a Super Bowl XLV party (or an Oscar party later on, or even just a regular Sunday brunch) and want your revelers to play nice with Mother Nature, make it effortless for everyone. That way, even the slobs who show up just to yell at the TV and guzzle your beer won't know they're actually making a difference for the environment. Face it: What you need to win is a game plan, and dadgummit, I've got one. Here's your 10-step playbook to Super Bowl success on the ecology front. Now let's huddle up and hunker down.
The Pre-game Plan: Carpools and public transit
Take these extra steps with your Super Bowl invite list: 1) Draw up public transit directions from various compass points. 2) See who lives close to whom and can thus carpool together. It won't take long, unless you've invited 300 people. (In which case, where's my invite?) Online party services such as Evite make it easy to tack on maps and save you the expense and use of paper for snail-mail invitations, too.
Starting Lineup: Chips and dip
Finger foods will rule come Sunday, so why not treat folks to eats that are tasty and sustainable? Rachel Ray may not know a safety blitz from a savory blintz, but she knows her food and highlights several top picks of organic salsas (including Brad's and Drew's) here. As for the chips, it's hard to beat Garden of Eatin'; the Black Bean flavor won the 2008 Men's Health award for Best Tortilla Chip, which is almost as good as the Vince Lombardi Trophy. (Garden of Eatin's blue corn chips are pretty darn tasty, too.) I also like what I've tasted thus far from Food Should Taste Good.
Game-winning Plays: Grass-fed beef and other sustainable choices for meat eaters
With just a little bit more thinking ahead, you can feed your friends royally without resorting to a vegan conversion ritual. For the meat eaters, consider Tallgrass Beef, raised by TV impresario Bill Kurtis. This beef is 100% grass-fed and humanely raised. The end product is delicious and contains more omega-3s per serving than salmon. You can find similar options on the pork and chicken side from outlets such as Gunthorp Farms. Look around and you can find sustainable party options that are tastier, healthier and better all around for your guests and the environment.
Prevent Defense: Avoid paper cups and plates and plasticware
If Super Bowl XLV garners the ratings it deserves, then millions of party people will watch — presumably dumping out countless pounds of paper products and plastic utensils into non-recyclable trash bags. Assuming your party is manageable — say, a dozen guests or less — take one for the home team and break out the silverware and reusable plates. Amazon.com offers the Progressive International set of 4 microwavable plates for $8.19, and you can find similar bargains at Target, which offers 10 melamine dinner plates for $6.98.
Trick Play: Tap water substitution
Bottled water has to rank among the biggest shell games being foisted on consumers, and it's a huge waste of plastic to boot. It takes 3 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of bottled water, according to the Pacific Institute. If you have empties about, fill them up with filtered tap water and see if anyone can tell the difference. If you'd rather act straight with your guests, fill inviting glass pitchers with iced, filtered tap water. Ahhhhh.
Sack: Pizza deliveries
Yes, records are set every year for pizza deliveries during the Super Bowl. But consider all the gas those delivery vehicles eat up and the fact that pizza boxes can't be recycled (see below). Not to harsh Mr. Pizza Hut's mellow, but why not nix pizza deliveries to your party? Check out the various take-and-bake options at local supermarkets such as Costco. (Their variety has earned a number of great reviews.) Another option: Walk to your local pizza place to pick up the order.
Laudable Audible: Recycle stations
It's human nature to equate party time with slacker time and forgo doing the Green Thing. But if you set up recycle stations in your kitchen for bottles, plastic and paper, you'll be amazed how quickly your friends fall in line — you've taken all the hard work out of it. If you're renting out a party room, there's no reason why you can't do the same thing. Remember that certain items with food residue won't recycle, including pizza boxes and chip bags, as this timely article from The Providence Journal points out. Bears quarterbacks are also disposable, but Packers fans knew that already.
Scoring Drive: Collection for a cause
It's always easier to hit up friends for charity when they're in a festive mood. With the brutal winter weather, why not invite friends to bring over bags of clothes they might otherwise throw out? Once the clothes bags are collected, find a reputable charity you can take them to post–game day. Homeless shelters are always a safe bet, though by all means avoid the green bins belonging to the Gaia Movement. As stated in a previous column, Gaia Movement USA is a front for a shadowy international organization known as "Tvind," sometimes called "the Teachers Group," that engages in cult practices.
Hand-Off: Split the Super Bowl pool proceeds with an environmental charity
While we're on the subject of charity, make this year's Super Bowl pool a winner for all. Have the proceeds split between the guy or gal who comes closest to the final score and an environmental charity of your choice. Want to find a good one? The American Institute of Philanthropy publishes its Charity Rating Guide three times a year, and if you visit the website, you can see the environmental groups that earn top scores for their work.
Extra Points: Efficient plasma TV
If you are mulling over whether to get a plasma TV for the Super Bowl party, remember that not all boob-tubes are created equal. As this chart from CNet shows, some of those newfangled plasma TVs burn up more than $100 a year in energy, while others use just a fraction of that. Also take care to recycle that old TV: Don't throw it out! This great piece from Earth 911 explains the benefits of recycling your TV and how to find a location near you that will take it. And if you're looking for a great price on a plasma, check out what dealnews discovered about HDTV price drops in the past year.
Have I prepared you for a green Super Bowl celebration? I hope so. As for misbehavior, I will tolerate one eco-cheat: You hereby have my permission to drench fans of the winning team with a jumbo cooler of Gatorade.