How to tailgate to Defend The North and the environment

Go green for purple and yellow.

September 5, 2018

By Andrea Kopischke

Looking back at my college days at North Dakota State University, some of my fondest memories were tailgating on Saturday mornings for Bison football. The Bison have won six out of the last seven FCS National Championships and are basically the pro team of North Dakota. Oh and, the Bison had Carson Wentz before he got drafted second in the first round in 2016 to the team we shall not speak of. The one with particularly rude fans.  

Now, living back in my home state, Minnesota, I’m back to bleeding purple, and this Sunday, the Vikings return with a matchup against San Francisco at noon. Tailgating lots will be filled with SKOL chants and adult beverages, while grills will be fired up with sweet aromas of burgers and brats, with all the fixings. Nothing says football season like the ritual of tailgating. But, now a days, I’m trying to do a lot of things in my life sustainably — maybe you are too.  That shouldn’t stop during football season.

When you think of it, thousands of tailgaters can create a lot of waste, but there are ways to do it better. Here are a few tips:

1.       Recycle. Yes, this one seems like common sense. But, according to Waste Management, “The average American will throw away 600 times the amount of his or her adult weight in garbage.” This most likely includes waste that should have been recycled. Remember to bring an additional bag for your recyclables. Click here for a refresher of what you can recycle – remember to rinse! Yes, even beer cans.

2.       Gas over charcoal grills. According to Huffington Post, most charcoal is made up of elements like corn starch, lighter fluid and sawdust which, when burned, can produce 105 times more carbon monoxide than propane. They discuss a study from Tristram West, a researcher at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who found that gas produced almost half of the carbon dioxide per hour than charcoal. More information here. Pack up that gas grill and throw in the propane tank for tailgating! Just remember to turn everything off when you are finished grilling up those burgers.

3.       Reusable dishware. Instead of buying the plastic throw-away plates and utensils, think about where that waste goes and get reusable items.  Preserve is a stronger dishware with utensils and plates that are reusable. They come in multiple colors so you can mix and match to fit your team pride. 

4.       Food planning. 40% of food in America goes uneaten which is equivalent to $165 billion (NRDC). Yes, Billion. According to Forbes.com, “Food waste is the single largest component going into municipal landfills, where it emits methane, helping to make landfills the third largest source of methane in the U.S.” Plan ahead for your tailgate and check your fridge and pantry for what you may already have available. Talk to your friends to meal prep ahead of time so you’re ready! One great way to ensure you go through your food is to share with passersby in the tailgate lot – yes, even the visiting team’s fans. We don’t want to be like that team we shall not speak of.

5.       Drink local with reusable growlers. Glass is not permitted in the tailgating areas but you can still get your growlers of local brew with these sturdy (and reusable at any brewery) growlers: https://www.hopculture.com/best-beer-growlers/

These are just five of the many ways you can be a sustainable tailgater. If you’re tailgating onsite before the big game or enjoying your backyard with friends before kickoff, these sustainable tailgating tips will help you Defend The North.


Andrea Kopischke is an Account Executive and 1Thing Green Team Member at Entercom Minneapolis. With a Master’s of Organizational Leadership and affinity for making the world a better place she shares thoughts and ideas on how to be more sustainably friendly by doing “one thing” at a time.