Clubs celebrate Earth Day across baseball

Recycling drives, carbon-neutral game highlight going-green initiatives

Clubs celebrate Earth Day across baseball

John Keats wrote that "the poetry of earth is never dead." Monday is an opportunity for all of us around Major League Baseball -- and the planet -- to inspire its lasting verse.

It is Earth Day, the 43rd anniversary of an event born of environmental anger in 1970, and a time to take stock of one's individual role in protecting this third rock. MLB and its 30 clubs mark this occasion in many ways, so expect to see such demonstrations as recycling drives and recycling-related trivia on scoreboards, a carbon-neutral game in Boston, a ceremonial first pitch from an Environmental Protection Agency executive and rain gauge giveaways in Minnesota.

These are just some of the extensive yearlong green efforts now institutionalized within the culture of each Major League club, part of the overall MLB Greening Program.

"I am very proud that our 30 clubs have demonstrated a wide-ranging commitment to sustainable practices," Commissioner Bud Selig said, "and we will continue to strive to set a positive example for all those who love our game."

The first Earth Day led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. In Washington, the Nationals, the EPA and Coca-Cola have collaborated to highlight a number of elements for the 7:05 p.m. ET game against St. Louis.

Nationals fans will see a prerecorded "Earth Day Welcome" video highlighting Earth Day, the EPA and recycling with Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator in the EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. There will be pregame recycling-related trivia, a recycling public service announcement from Coke and pregame ceremonies devoted to Earth Day.

EPA acting administrator Bob Perciasepe will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and Shawn Garvin, administrator for EPA's mid-Atlantic region, will deliver the lineup card. One lucky section will be chosen to receive 400 Nationals/Coca-Cola T-shirts that read "Give It Back!" -- the same ones volunteers from green non-profit organizations will wear in the aisles -- at the end of the second inning, and the EPA will staff the Community Clubhouse, educating fans about Earth Day and recycling.

When the A's visit the Red Sox at 6:35 p.m. ET, it will be designated as a carbon-neutral game in Boston. The Red Sox are purchasing renewable energy credits from New England-based projects to offset emissions generated in this game. The EPA's New England region will provide 40 volunteers for the Poland Spring Green Team at this game, part of a larger overall Fenway Greening program.

"As stewards of such a storied venue we recognize our unique position and ability to raise public consciousness about important issues," Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said. "Our decision to enhance the ballpark's environmental attributes is one born out of a sense of personal responsibility and professional duty. For us, this announcement marks some of the first steps in an ongoing process to make America's most beloved and oldest ballpark also one of America's greenest."

The first 10,000 fans at the Twins' 7:10 p.m. CT home game against the Marlins will receive a Twins Rain Gauge presented by Pentair, and there will be other Earth Day-related themes heading into this game. Minnesota's extensive green efforts are detailed on their "Go Twins, Go Green" page.

Through aggressive recycling and waste-to-energy programs, the Twins kept more than 2,559 tons of waste out of local landfills in 2011 and '12. They reported that 1,333 tons of trash have been sent to the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, 956 tons of waste have been recycled from Target Field, and 260 tons of organic materials have been composted and diverted from landfills.

This year, the Twins are seeking help from their fans in increasing the amount of recycled organic materials, further reducing the amount of waste produced at Target Field.

The Reds open a home series against the Cubs at 7:10 p.m. ET, and their efforts for Earth Day were highlighted by a fourth annual PNC/Players for the Planet E-Waste Recycling Drive that spanned various regional sites from Friday through Sunday.

In conjunction with Cohen Recycling and many of Cincinnati's leading corporations, this drive provided an easy way for Reds fans and residents of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to recycle old electronics. The first 200 cars at each event received two View Level tickets to an upcoming Reds game this season, while supplies lasted.

The Phillies' Red Goes Green program grows stronger each year, and their fourth annual front office employee Earth Day Cleanup of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park -- part of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation -- took place on April 15. That was a day after the club partnered with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to give away 150 free trees to fans.

On Earth Day, the Phillies are announcing the second year of their Home Runs for Trees program. This program is a partnership with PHS and Aramark. For each home run hit by a Phillies player this season -- home or away -- a tree will be planted as part of PHS's Plant One Million campaign.

The Phillies agreed to purchase more than 22 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of Renewable Energy Credits, matching 100 percent of their electricity usage with wind and solar generation. This is the sixth calendar year the Phillies have made this commitment.

The Cardinals will host their fourth annual Green Week (#4aGreenerGame) starting Monday, with activities designed to promote recycling, both inside and outside of Busch Stadium.

For starters, they will host an electronics recycling and general donations drive in collaboration with MERS/Goodwill, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT. Fans may drop off unused or unwanted electronic equipment at trailers in the Lot C parking lot, located at the corner of 8th Street and Cerre Street, immediately south of I-64/40. Fans who donate receive a voucher good for half off Cardinals tickets, and further details are listed on the Cards' website.

The EPA's Food Recovery Challenge asks organizations to find alternatives to throwing away food, which will reduce the amount going to landfills. When food decomposes in landfills, it becomes a source of greenhouse gas emissions. Together, the Cardinals and Delaware North Companies have diverted more than 27 tons of unused food from Busch Stadium concessions stands to Operation Food Search since 2010, and the EPA will recognize the Cardinals and Delaware North in an April 29 on-field ceremony.

The Rays open a three-game series against the Yankees in conjunction with an Earth Day celebration. Fans were able to purchase a discounted Earth Day seat in the Press Level Reserved and receive a Tampa Bay Watch/Rays hat for $35 (a $56 value), with proceeds of each Earth Day ticket benefiting the "Break A Bat, Plant A Ball" program.

In Seattle, the Mariners -- American League recycling champions by MLB for 2012 -- made an Earth Day-related announcement last week in their joint news release with BASF about a season-long environmental awareness program called Sustainable Saturdays, part of their overall sustainability initiative. Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is a key part of the campaign, encouraging fans to compost at home, and the club will give away more than 10,000 "kitchen catchers" at a late-season game. The countertop compost bins featuring King Felix will urge fans to "Strike Out the Landfill."

Thanks in part to BASF-sponsored zero-waste stations throughout the concourse, the Mariners and their fans already divert more than 86 percent of game-day waste away from local landfills through recycling of plastic bottles and composting of food waste and food service items.

"BASF is proud to support the Mariners and Sustainable Saturdays," said Chris Bradlee, BASF's North American biopolymers-market development manager. "From BASF's perspective, this kind of sponsorship connects directly to the company's purpose of creating chemistry for a sustainable future."

The Rockies' Games of Green initiative features 19 games this season, with players and fans enlisted to make a positive impact on the environment. The next one is Tuesday night, when Atlanta is at Coors Field.

Fans can buy a $25 Green Pack for the Green Games to get two tickets, with $5 from each pack sold going toward the Green Fund and "Wood for Wood" program, which plants one tree in the Denver area for every Rockies home run hit during these 19 games.

The Pirates are at Philadelphia on Earth Day, but they celebrated the occasion a day earlier by closing out their homestand with emphasis on their nationally recognized "Let's Go Bucs. Let's Go Green" campaign. Fans 14 and under received eco-friendly rally towel from PeopleTowels, courtesy of Waste Management. Inside PNC Park, the Pirates displayed new in-park educational components of their initiative, which focuses on recycling, conservation and awareness.

Those components include a new recycling center located on the River Walk, video messages from Pirates players on the PNC Park video board, as well as additional signage throughout the ballpark. In addition, Pirates partner Waste Management set up a large display promoting the importance of recycling prior to the game on Federal Street.

The "Let's Go Bucs. Let's Go Green." initiative now successfully diverts more than 65 percent of PNC Park waste materials out of the landfill, the highest of any ballpark east of the Rocky Mountains. In 2012 alone, the team recycled approximately 66 tons of glass, 25 tons of aluminum, 54 tons of plastic, 26 tons of paper, 130 tons of cardboard, 17 tons of used cooking oil, 33 tons of yard waste and 91 tons of other recyclable materials.

The Pirates have taken significant steps to cut down on the ballpark's energy consumption, saving more than 1.1 million KWH per year, equivalent to the yearly energy consumption of 400 people. The Pirates' greening initiatives were nationally recognized by the National Resource Defense Council, which last month honored Pirates chairman Bob Nutting for his leadership in the sports industry's movement to adopt sustainable business practices.

"Earth Day is a great reminder that it is our responsibility to do as much as we can to protect our environment," Nutting said. "The Pittsburgh region is fortunate to be surrounded by such natural beauty, and it is up to all of us to help preserve it for future generations."

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.