Baseball is the one North American sport that most clearly co-exists with Mother Nature, as we can see from a typical sunny summer day during the regular season, or a drizzly night like Tuesday's at Citi Field in New York, or a most cloudy and chilly day expected for Wednesday's 100th anniversary celebration at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Then there is Earth Day, a time when everyone around Major League Baseball is reminded of a much greater personal involvement with our planet. This is the 44th anniversary of an event born of environmental concern in 1970, and it is a time to take stock of one's individual role but also to explore the continued emphasis by all 30 clubs as 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."
Look to Cleveland as just one example. Before their home game against Kansas City, the Indians planned on giving 5,000 flower seed packets to fans to help celebrate the annual event. The club also invited Craig Butler, the director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"Ohio EPA is proud to bring awareness about the importance of recycling on Earth Day with the Cleveland Indians," Butler said. "We are asking fans to support recycling on Earth Day and every day because it saves energy and valuable landfill space, conserves our natural resources and creates jobs."
The Ohio EPA has partnered with the Indians and provided a grant to help with recycling at the stadium. This season, there are more than 60 new recycling cans throughout Progressive Field to aid that process. The Indians have run their "Our Tribe is Green" campaign for several years, and the Ohio EPA plans on doing its part to expand the team's efforts.
The Yankees and Red Sox resumed their storied rivalry with the start of a three-game series at Fenway Park, and before the game, Boston celebrated Earth Day in ceremonies presented by National Grid. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and president of National Grid Massachusetts Marcy Reed were expected to be present for those ceremonies.
As a nod to Earth Day, the Yankees said that they will be giving away herb seed packets to the first 18,000 fans in attendance for Friday's game against the Angels at Yankee Stadium.
In celebration of Earth Day, the Cardinals are hosting their fifth annual Green Week (#4aGreenerGame) now through April 30, with activities designed to promote recycling, both inside and outside of Busch Stadium.
Events include the MERS/Goodwill Computer E-Cycling Drive on Tuesday; a shoe collection from Friday through Sunday at the gates, part of a partnership with Shoeman Water Projects that creates clean drinking water for developing countries by selling shoes to exporters for resale; Operation Food Search to recognize concessionaire Delaware North Companies and its involvement in diverting nearly 13,000 pounds of unused food; and an alliance with Ameren Missouri Pure Power to offset energy consumption by purchasing renewable energy credits (recs) for the duration of Green Week. By purchasing recs, the Cardinals will offset 100 percent of the energy used at Busch Stadium for the games during Green Week. Look for Green Team volunteers at the ballpark after the Redbirds return home.
Since the launch of 4 A Greener Game in 2008, the Cardinals have diverted nearly 2,400 tons of solid waste from local landfills, and Busch continues to become more energy efficient through participation in Ameren Missouri's Business Energy Efficiency Program. The team has reduced energy use by 20 percent and water use by 10 percent since the new stadium opened in 2006; 34 percent of the team's waste was diverted from landfills in 2013; on average, four tons of trash are recycled at Busch Stadium each game; and 550 recycling bins are located throughout Busch.
"It's important not to be wasteful, and for all of us it's important to recycle," Cardinals right fielder Allen Craig said in the clubhouse before Tuesday's game at Citi Field. "Whether it's Earth Day, we are in the public spotlight and it's definitely good to make an example of doing things the right way. We have a platform and it's important to take advantage of those opportunities."
While the Phillies were away for their series vs. the Dodgers, front-office employees took part in a "Red Goes Green" cleanup at FDR Park near the future site of the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Philadelphia. Last Thursday was Citizens Bank Red Goes Green Day. Fans received an MLB Network reusable tote and were able to engage with local "green" vendors at the entrance gates. They learned more about the Phillies' Red Goes Green sustainability initiative throughout the game. There was an on-field recognition of the winning teacher in the Phillies Red Goes Green Sustainability Initiative Contest.
The Twins also are on the road this Earth Day, but one of the many ways Target Field green efforts thrive today is a custom-designed rainwater recycle system provided by Minneapolis-based Pentair. Through that, the Twins have captured, purified and reused more than 3.1 million gallons of rainwater -- drastically reducing the amount of municipal water there. If you want to follow that example, rain barrels are commonly available at home-and-garden stores to capture water from rooves.
"The 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. "While we are far from perfect, we are making a conscious effort to be kind to the Earth. This Earth Week and every day, we hope you'll take a moment to ask yourself: What can I do to be better to the environment?"
At Citi Field, the Mets, in partnership with Action Carting Environmental Services and ARAMARK, are composting food waste in all kitchens, suites, clubs and restaurants. Grass clippings from the field are also being composted. In addition, recycling receptacles are located throughout Citi Field, helping the Mets achieve an equal number of recycling containers to trash bins. Cans, plastic or glass bottles and cardboard will continue to be recycled. The Mets save more than four million gallons of water per year by using 414 hands-free faucets, 635 automated toilet flush-valves, and 270 waterless urinals.
The Nationals teamed up with the EPA and Coca-Cola to celebrate Earth Day around their home game against the Angels. EPA deputy administrator Bob Perciasepe threw out the ceremonial first pitch and also participated in an interview that was shown pregame on the video board. Also shown were a public service announcement from the EPA promoting action on climate change and trivia segments in honor of Earth Day and promoting recycling and other green strategies. The popular Presidents Race also was set to incorporate a pro-recycling message.
In addition, members of the Young Activist Club -- a student group from Takoma Park, Md., that is trying to get rid of Styrofoam and other polystyrene to make their community more green -- made up the night's Starting Nine, meeting Nationals starters at their positions before the first inning. And Coca-Cola's recycling education vehicle also was parked in front of the center-field gate, offering fans information about recycling as they entered Nationals Park.
The D-backs, in partnership with Arizona Public Service, teamed up for the fifth annual APS Green Series during their last homestand. The club gave out 30,000 recyclable "Beat L.A." placards; 25,000 MLB Network recyclable bags; and 10,000 compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, courtesy of APS. On Sunday, they offered free parking at the Chase Field Garage for all electric-powered vehicles.
The D-backs purchased green energy from APS to power Chase Field for the entire three-game series. The total average consumption for the series was about 750,000 kilowatt hours (kWh). APS had educational items on display, including a 1915 electric car, near the north end of the APS Solar Pavilion (a 17,280-square-foot structure that generate 100,000 kWh of solar energy annually), located in the Gila River Casinos Plaza, educating customers about APS energy efficiency programs that can help fans reduce energy use and save money.
The Tigers' efforts to become more environmentally conscious date back to 2007, when they installed new seats in the Tiger Den made of recycled plastic milk jugs. When the Tigers installed their high-definition LED video board at Comerica Park in 2012, they looked for energy efficiency as a side benefit. Around the ballpark, the club placed large, bottle-shaped recycling containers last season for fans to toss their plastic bottles. Other garbage has recyclables filtered out at a transfer station and sent to a recycling company.