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Tailgating…In Green-Style

September 27, 2011

Fall is officially here and all around town leaves are starting to turn, the sun is shining on us less and less, and the air is starting to chill. Seems ominous, but never fear, football season is here. Everyone I know is touched by football by playing, watching, or cheering on a favorite team (Go Bucks!).  If you have a chance to go to a stadium and watch a game then you know that the best way to celebrate gameday is with a fabulous tailgate. After enjoying a tailgate last weekend I was inspired to share ideas on how you can keep this season a green one by doing little to no harm to the environment during your festivities.

Traditional Buckeye Tailgate

Carpool, carpool, carpool. If you are bringing in and taking out everything you need for the tailgate, it is essential to load it all in a vehicle. Keep in mind, the fewer vehicles at the event the better. It’s much cheaper to carpool too for the obvious reason that you will be paying for less fuel to get there and back, but also by paying for fewer cars to park there. So, call your friends and make arrangements for everyone to travel together like sardines to the event.

If you decide that you will be attending instead of hosting a tailgate and won’t be bringing much, you can opt to walk to the event. This obviously only works if you live nearby, but in campus or city situations, it is much easier and there are plenty of sidewalks. Walking is a great way to avoid the traffic before and after the event and you can work off the calories you’re bound to down at the tailgate.

Don’t live quite local enough to walk? Break out the bike. No need to worry about where to leave it. On Ohio State’s campus on game day there is a free bike valet service from Pedal Instead. You can get the details at

Even further away? Public transit systems are perfect. For Buckeye games, COTA has you covered. You can check out all the routes at You can also park and ride for less than parking closer to campus. Park at the Ohio Expo Center and ride both ways to the game for $5 or park in Worthington at Crosswoods Park and ride for free.  Not sure you can make the bus schedules work for you? Try carpooling via taxi.

Plan your menu around what is in season and can be bought at your local farmer’s market. There are still tons of items that can be purchased there this time of year. One of Central Ohio’s farmers markets even posts what is in season on their website; check it out here. If you can’t get all your goodies at a farmers market, always try to purchase organic when you can. There are so many delicious options for snacks in your local grocery store’s healthy food section. Peruse the shelves and give something new a try.

Bring a bin along with you to compost the food scraps from the event. With some bokashi, you can throw just about anything edible in the bin. This is great to take home with you and add to your compost at home or a great time to start a compost pile.


Grilling at the game? Bring a charcoal grill and avoid lighter fluid. Use a natural starter to avoid cooking with fossil fuels and toxins.

Of course you need something to wrap leftovers up in? Wrong. Remember to bring reusable containers to sidestep using plastic wrap or anything similar.

What’s a tailgate without a refreshing frosty beverage? It isn’t. Choosing local options is always a great choice. Central Ohio is full of local options like Columbus Brewing Company, Great Lakes Brewing, etc. And it is about to get another one: Yuengling can be found here in just a few days. This will add a cheaper local option to satisfy your craving. For a great local beer without the individual container, fill up growlers of your favorite pours and bring them along. It makes extra sense to buy growlers when you consider that you’ll end up pouring any beverage into a different cup anyway.

Nonalcoholic options are easy to come by on game day but you can always bring a refillable container for the tailgate. (Remember you won’t be able to bring it inside the event though.) If you are hosting, bringing a large pitcher or beverage dispenser filled with iced tea or fresh lemonade is a great idea. Delicious choice!

No matter what you choose, make sure it is in a reusable or recyclable package. Remember to bring a bin to put all those recyclables too. That’s key. Don’t leave the bin behind though; remember to actually drop off the recyclables at a recycle center.

Plates & Such:
When you are at the store picking up plates, napkins, utensils and cups make sure to choose products that are either compostable at home or recyclable. This way you will only need two containers at your tailgate for disposing of everything; one for compost and one for recycling. No need for an actual trash bin. Essentially you will create your own zero waste event, diverting 100% of the waste away from the landfill.

Pregame Entertainment:
Typically you’ll want to do more at your tailgate than just sit and talk and eat; you’ll want entertainment prior to game time. The greenest options are games brought from home like cornhole, washers, beersbee, or hillbilly golf. Many of these games you can make from scrap wood or other supplies at home. If you’d rather watch other football games at your tailgate, I would recommend purchasing a solar generator to run the television. It may cost more up front, but there are multiple benefits of a solar generator kit: silent energy, clean energy, and free energy to name a few. A simple Google search will show you multiple options for these.

Supporting Your Team:

Now that's entertainment

Wearing your colors is great for supporting your team, as is wearing a jersey. Just wear whatever you actually already own. It makes the most sense. Who wants to be the guy jumping on the bandwagon anyway by buying the newest player’s jersey? What you own is great. If you truly feel as though you’ve worn out the old and can no longer make that holey tee work, try thrift stores or consignment shops first before buying brand new. Choosing brand new anyway?…give your local shops a try, like Homage. Quirky, comfortable, and I like to say: cute. (As the temps dip, make sure to layer up and go natural whenever possible, synthetic fibers made from oil suck.)

Remember to pack everything up and leave no trace when you start heading to the game. So, don’t leave your compost or recycling behind. You’ll have the same fun experience tailgating green as you will not, but you’ll be doing your part to improve your life and your planet while you’re at it.

(Upon completing this post I found more info from Green Columbus, you can read it here.)

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