Image via MargaritaVille Cargo.
A friend of mine threw a tailgate party recently (check out her blog entry) and did everything she could to make it a greener tailgate. She and her husband both are huge football fans and live for weekend home games. Naturally her idea for a greener tailgate was met with some opposition, such as "why ruin a good thing" comments, but eventually received a lot of applause.
If you're worried that you'll alienate friends by doing this, think again. You'll get the satisfaction of proving them wrong. Here's how you can get started with three simple steps.
1. Localize the Food.
Rather than serving the typical foods (frozen burgers, bags of chips, etc.) look for local options. They'll taste better and you'll have an automatic conversation piece on your hands. Don't stress if you can't get 100% of your foods locally, but try whenever possible.
Search your local farmers markets and grocery stores for foods like these:
- Grass fed or organically raised ground beef for burgers (you've never tasted something so good!).
- Chicken wings from an organic chicken farmer in town.
- Popcorn from a local farmer (Pop and toss it with spices and a little butter, or soy sauce).
- Potatoes for creamy potato salad and crispy potato skins.
- Baguettes or bread rounds from a local bakery. (Slice and load up with sliced meat, cheese, mustard and lettuce. Or go vegetarian and fill with hummus, sprouts, cucumber and Munster cheese, which is a favorite of mine!).
- Cookies and brownies from a local bakery or your own kitchen. (Try to bake up a batch from scratch...instead of a mix).
- Even if you can't go local for your soda, beer and other libations, you can go organic and/or fair trade. Check out Maine Root Ginger Brew, Sam Smith organic beer, and Square One Organic Vodka.
2. Pick Better Disposables
Forget about the standard plastic cups and paper plates. There are so many better options out there today like compostable paper goods and plastic cutlery made from sugar and corn.
Check out Ultra Green Home. Their Tree Free paper products are made from sugarcane fiber and their cups and utensils are made from corn starch. All of their products are 100% biodegradable, compostable, and sustainable. And the best part is they have a party pack that includes 12 of everything you'll need (plates, cups, napkins, and utensil sets).
3. Make Trash Talk Easy
Ok, so trash talk always comes easily at tailgates, especially when directed at the ref or the opposing team. But I'm talking about a different kind of trash talk. The kind that goes like this, "Hey, where's the garbage so I can throw all of this away?" Instead of making it easy for everyone to toss all of their paper plates, bottles and such in the trash, make it easy for them to compost, recycle, and then, as a last resort, trash.
Set up bins, buckets, or bags and clearly label them. If you have a big crowd, hang a sign that clearly illustrates what should go where. This is one load you'll be happy to haul home.
Have fun with it! Remember, the idea is to get other people excited about living the lifestyle you know is better for your body and the planet.