MLB pitches greener future for Earth Day

League, clubs recognize environmental awareness with initiatives

MLB pitches greener future for Earth Day

From the first MLB All-Star Game to be played under energy-efficient LED lights to the Cardinals' seventh annual Green Week to those 100-percent recycled MLB by SustainU T-shirts just added to the MLB.com Shop, Major League Baseball brings a smaller carbon footprint and a larger environmental intelligence to Friday's 46th annual Earth Day festivities.

The largest civic observance in the world, first held in 1970, is an increasingly symbolic way of life for most people due to today's threat of climate change -- and that includes MLB. At the Paris Climate Summit last December, 195 nations reached a landmark accord that commits nearly every country to lower planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Go to indians.com/green to see some helpful tips on how you can make a positive difference on Earth Day and every day, and take a look at these examples of what clubs are doing around MLB:

• The Reds, PNC and Players for the Planet are joining forces again with Cohen Recycling and many of Cincinnati's leading corporations for the seventh annual PNC/Players for the Planet E-Waste Recycling Drives on May 5-7, at three locations. The first 300 cars at each event will receive two free tickets to a select 2016 regular-season Reds game. Last year's Reds recycling drives collected nearly 200,000 pounds of electronic waste from more than 2,000 cars. On the first day of the drive, the Reds expect to surpass the one-million-pound mark in total e-waste diverted from landfills since the drives started in 2010.

• The Red Sox got the ball rolling on Thursday by making their homestand finale against the Rays a carbon neutral game. Boston Mayor Martin Walsh threw a special Planet Earth baseball for the first pitch, and the pregame ceremony featured many leaders and partners who are part of the city's effort to reduce Boston's greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020.

To achieve a zero carbon footprint for the game, the Red Sox announced they would purchase renewable energy credits to offset all emissions generated from the game, including electric and gas consumption, waste disposal, and fan, employee and player transportation. Even as the team then left for its road trip, the Red Sox planned to host the Greenovate Boston awards ceremony at Fenway Park on Friday, honoring citizens with the best environmental-protection ideas.

• As part of the Mariners' substantial year-round sustainability program, the club will give away a bag of gardening soil courtesy of Cedar Grove Composting to each of the first 5,000 fans exiting the Safeco Field gates after Tuesday's home game against Houston. Seattle, founding member of the Green Sports Alliance, was the first team to stage a carbon-neutral game in 2008, and Safeco was the first MLB park to illuminate its field with LED lighting.

On the upcoming homestand, the Mariners will unveil the Safeco Field Urban Garden. The 450-foot raised bed tucked behind the center-field wall will supply fresh-picked greens, herbs and vegetables for the ballpark menu, specifically the Hit It Here Cafe. The project is a collaboration between the Mariners, BASF and Cedar Grove Compost, both longtime Mariners corporate partners. The garden was planted and will be tended by Seattle Urban Farm Company, and its crops will include hardy plants such as head lettuce, radishes, onions, Swiss Chard, spinach and mesclun greens in early spring and then warm-weather-loving sweet and hot peppers, basil, beets, parsley, scallions, Roma tomatoes and cucumbers later in the season.

• In Kansas City, the Royals open a series against the Orioles in a setting that shows ongoing environment stewardship. During select games throughout the season at Kauffman Stadium, local organizations and volunteers who sign up to be a part of the Royals Green Team, sponsored by Republic Services, will help collect aluminum and recyclable plastics at the stadium gates, as well as throughout multiple innings of the game.

• Although the Cardinals are away this Earth Day, their traditional observance will go on with the seventh annual Green Week (#4AGreenerGame) April 29 through May 3, featuring activities designed to promote recycling, both inside and outside of Busch Stadium. The club will begin the festivities Friday by hosting an electronics recycling and general donations drive in collaboration with MERS/Goodwill.

Fans in St. Louis 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. See cardinals.com/greenweek for more details.

• In Detroit on Friday night, the first 10,000 fans for the game against Cleveland will get a free Shell Eco-marathon 2016 Saltwater Car. The promotional giveaway of an energy-efficient car -- especially big in the Motor City -- is part of the Earth Day theme.

• The Rockies' Bike to the Game program is back, with Sunday's home game against the Dodgers. Fans can check in at the Coors Field bike lot near Gate E by the fourth inning for the chance to win prizes, including Rockies tickets and batting practice viewing. See rockies.com/green for more information.

• Minnesota is at Washington this weekend, but go to twinsbaseball.com/green and see all the latest on what the Twins bill as "The Greenest Ballpark in America." That includes 6,905 tons of waste diverted from Target Field to local landfills in 2011-15.

"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 Twins president Dave St. Peter. "We have reduced our overall impact on the environment while we continue to seek ways to improve the sustainability of Target Field."

• The Phillies and PGW are partnering for the fifth year in a row with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society on their efforts to plant one million trees. The ambitious multistate tree-planting campaign encompasses 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. For each home run hit by a Phillies player this season, a tree is planted as part of the program.

Phillies spend day at FDR Park

• The Pirates are on the road Friday, but go to pirates.com/green and you can see what goes into the club's "Let's Go Green" campaign. Since 2008, the Bucs have recycled more than six million pounds of material. If you laid all the recycled plastic bottles from PNC Park end-to-end, they would stretch from Pittsburgh to the team's Spring Training home in Bradenton, Fla.

• Did you know: A single tree absorbs 100 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. You can find that fact at orioles.com/green along with details of the Orioles' environmental efforts.

SustainU, a leading producer of apparel using fabrics from 100 percent recycled materials that are manufactured in the USA, recently announced its licensed partnership with MLB. Those tees for each club are 50-percent recycled cotton and 50-percent recycled polyester.

"We are so proud to launch our new line of products with Major League Baseball," said Chris Yura, founder and CEO of SustainU. "We represent American Craftsmanship, innovation and localized production. This pairs perfectly with America's Pastime and we're excited to showcase our collection online and in stadiums around the country."

MLB announced that it will again ensure that the 87th Annual All-Star Game and All-Star Week incorporate environmentally intelligent features. San Diego will be the host city, and that means the first Midsummer Classic under LED lights. Prior to this season, the Padres became the first National League team to use LED Sports Lights on their playing field.

It is estimated that LED lights will save over 250,000 kWh per year, which is the equivalent of driving more than 410,000 miles or approximately 16.5 trips around the world.

The combined energy used at all All-Star Week events will be matched with Green-e Certified Renewable Energy Certificates. Water use will be balanced through the Change the Course program, a freshwater conservation and restoration campaign. Player travel to and from San Diego will be reduced through carbon offsets. RECs, offsets and Water Restoration Certificates are being provided by Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). The Padres installed in-sink aerators and low-flow fixtures to conserve over 390,000 gallons of water in 2015.

There will again be an All-Star Walking Path, to encourage fans to walk rather than drive. The Padres diverted 74 percent of their waste from landfills in 2015, including 53.5 tons of cooking oil turned into bio-diesel, 247.2 tons of food waste composted and 10.1 tons of food donated. And to reinforce recycling, the All-Star Green Team will collect recyclables and interact with fans at All-Star Week events throughout the week both at the ballpark and at other events.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.