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Green Light

GREEN LIGHT: Rochester


Red Wings

Rochester Red Wings

The Red Wings have strived to be green for years but we've increased our efforts in the last several years alongside the national "green wave." While we all have miles to go, a few key steps have been simple and beneficial. I'm sure many teams have done much of the following, but we hope a few ideas are sparked.

Green Seal certification (Green Seal is an independent non-profit organization which sets standards on environmentally-friendly products and services) is the level we seek in our paper and cleaning products. Using products with that distinction helps us achieve an increased level of environmental benefit, and in some cases, saves money, too. A few examples:

  • Trash-can liners that are thinner ("down-gauged") without sacrificing strength ... bit by bit, it's less that eventually reaches landfills, and less raw material is required to produce the bags (and therefore, less petroleum). The EPA lays out a minimal "post-consumer waste content" of 10% for this product, but bags provided to us reach 30% in terms of how much of the product is manufactured with recycled raw materials.
  • Our toilet paper meets EPA guidelines for "post-consumer fiber content" (insert your own one-liner here) ... the product biodegrades quicker, and like the liners, more recycled material initially go into its production.
  • Hand-soap: we went from lotion to foam years ago - it's generally more efficient - but last year we went to a new foam that's more environmentally-friendly at the manufacturing stage and is packaged more responsibly.

For chemicals (cleansers and degreasers), GS-37 is the benchmark. As many of our chemical-based products as possible are "biodegradable and phosphate-free" ... it's sobering to learn that the first biodegradable and phosphate-free cleaner was introduced in 1969, in an era when people regularly chucked their fast-food bags out the car window! Better late than never, and remember the commercial with the Indian shedding a tear as a bag of garbage lands at his feet?! Anyway, something else we look for with the guidance of our vendors is lower levels of VOCs -- volatile organic compounds.

For office paper, Waste Management told us years ago that it was more efficient to receive it shredded and bagged for easier introduction into the recycling system, with a lower possibility of contamination (which could be as innocent as having a half-ounce of soda spilled in a bin of loose-leaf office paper). Shredding has also become vogue for ID theft prevention, so our shredder was a key purchase years ago. It's probably the most-used appliance in the office.

Other green initiatives:
  • We've recycled bottles since we opened Frontier Field in 1997, but have become more earnest in recent years to make sure people are reminded to use the receptacles. We have 18 containers placed around the concourse and in ramp ways, with new ones on the way this year that are more attractive and obvious in their function.
  • We've recycled cardboard, tin and plastic containers since 1997, including in the off-season, when we keep a 10-yard receptacle around for cardboard that piles up, and five toters for plastics and tins that fill quicker than you'd think in the winter as Food & Beverage continues to produce food for luncheons, occasional catering, and testing new foods and recipes.
  • Electric stuff: as lights burned out starting a few years ago, they were replaced with greener products 40% longer-lasting and 30% less energy used. We installed light switches in the office and other areas that have automatic turn-off sensors if movement isn't detected in a given area for 15 minutes. The field lights were replaced three years ago with the environment in mind, and a new guideline from the International League asks teams not to turn on the lights at the beginning of night games, but rather, when the umpire calls for them.
  • Our toilets are water-savers and faucets have automatic turn-offs. Opening the ballpark in '97, we chose to use hand-dryers only in bathrooms, and we'll replace them sooner than later with more efficient models.
  • In several stands (with more to follow), hot water heaters were replaced with more efficient tankless models ("insta-water").
  • Since 2000, our napkin dispensers allow only one napkin to be pulled at a time, so while we can't control the overall use of napkins, it's less than many years ago when it was easier to grab several.
  • All our cooking oils are put in a certified container for periodic pick-up and then recycled (likely as biodiesel).

Something we seek: we've looked into concessions packaging that biodegrades in months instead of decades but haven't yet found one that's viable. One such company went out of business before the big green movement hit, but while similar opportunities exist, we'll hope for them to be more cost-effective so we can take advantage. That day should be coming soon the defunct company offered plates, bowls and wraps made of potatoes, corn starch and limestone, and were plenty functional!

Promotionally we've stepped up efforts too ... this year will mark our third year having a green night, which includes a reusable tote bag giveaway, as more people bring their own bags to the grocer. And we insisted on bags made of more recycled material than not. Another sponsor is doing a second tote bag night. Other obvious promotional elements go into the night, such as announcements, exhibitors, key "green people," etc.

Waste Management's advertising entirely promotes being green, including radio and p.a. And for several games that are particularly heavy with kids (Education Day, etc.,), appropriate green vendors have been involved for years.

Small steps are important because small steps in the right direction still get you there, especially as steps get bigger. Consider when soda and beer cans still had pull-off tabs! Moving to tabs that stay connected to the can for future recycling didn't seem like a big deal at the time (except not stepping on them in bare feet), but imagine the hundreds of millions of tabs that were littered in parks and backyards that are now recycled.

We look forward to learning about other teams' initiatives, and hope to be a little greener every year.

Visit the Red Wings official homepage for more information.