MLB observes Earth Day with different initiatives

From recycling drives to planting trees, baseball active in 47th annual observance

MLB observes Earth Day with different initiatives

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball celebrated the 47th annual observance of Earth Day on Saturday in many ways across the sport, from recycling drives to planting trees to flipping the switch on LED Field Lighting. The collective determination to help make a difference also included some very hands-on work near MLB's home office.

Dozens of front-office employees at the Commissioner's Office, MLB Advanced Media and MLB Network volunteered at the New York Cares Spring Day at Lincoln Terrace Park in Brooklyn. Volunteers were tasked with removing invasive seedlings, composting, planting ground covers and clearing the park of debris -- from morning to afternoon.

"It was just nice to have everyone come out and get their hands dirty in a different way than in our normal work life," said Melanie LeGrande, MLB's vice president of social responsibility. "Earth Day is huge for all of us at baseball -- not just in the league office, but also the clubs -- and it's evident in the ways in which we try to be environmentally friendly.

"From things like this event working with New York Cares on a cleanup in Brooklyn to all of the club initiatives -- such as growing ballpark gardens that they repurpose for concessions and local habitat -- it's important. All of us across the league are doing what makes sense in our community, depending on the needs in the climate, and it's important to all of us to make a difference in this area."

Volunteers formed a fire brigade and made a receiving line to pass mulch up and down the side of a slope so it could be used to prevent mud and rain runoff that could go onto paths and other unwanted areas. Some of them picked up trash, while others planted native vegetation and miniature trees. The goal was not only to create a habitat that is safer and more aesthetically pleasing, but also to create a habitat where bugs, birds and animals can thrive.

LeGrande just happens to be an "Earth Day baby," so she was celebrating her own full trip around the sun by taking care of the planet that just made another wonderful orbit.

"Just seeing trees being planted and native plants going into the ground, it means something to me personally," she said, "because I know it makes things better for the environment and we are doing something positive for the places where we live."

MLB is the first league to have all of its 30 clubs as members of the Green Sports Alliance, which promotes healthy, sustainable communities in sports. Clubs emphasize sustainability efforts through waste diversion, composting, and energy-efficient practices throughout the season; this includes many clubs with comprehensive on-site gardens, Green Teams to collect recyclables, LED field lighting and solar panel installations.

In addition, MLB and FOX Sports U have partnered to support a Sustainability & Public Relations undergraduate course at DePaul University in Chicago. Students at DePaul will learn about the league's sustainability efforts, and assemble hypothetical PR campaigns.

MLB will continue to support sustainable efforts during All-Star Week, which will be July 6-11 in Miami. MLB will partner with the University of Miami, along with the University of Minnesota, for the fifth consecutive year to activate Green Teams, a group that supports environmental efforts during MLB All-Star events. Many other initiatives are planned to lessen the carbon footprint there, as will be the case during the World Series.

Visit MLBCommunity.org for more information about the ways MLB and clubs are involved year-round in our communities, and feel free to say how you recognized Earth Day in the comments.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.