One of the best ways to promote fan participation in your organization’s environmental programs is to recruit volunteers from the community to be part of your organization’s “green team.”
Green teams are typically comprised of staff as well as volunteers from outside the organization (as opposed to eco-committees, which are typically comprised only of internal staff), and are generally involved in game-day environmental activities throughout the facility, such as:
- Collecting recyclables from fans during the game
- Educating fans about your organization’s commitment to the environment
- Handing out flyers or wallet guides to fans with information about your organization’s environmental initiatives and green tips for reducing their own daily environmental impacts
- Encouraging fans to recycle and/or compost by assisting in locating appropriate bins
A green team can be a valuable component of your organization’s effort to enhance its environmental performance. Green teams can directly impact your facility’s environmental targets—such as increasing recycling rates—while also enhancing community awareness of your environmental commitments. A green team can also be a source for new ideas and motivation and can serve as a link between the community, local organizations, and your internal eco-committee.
Green teams are a great way for you to provide opportunities for the general public to connect with your organization and its values. Green teams allow your organization to develop stronger community ties and give back to the community, all while establishing opportunities for positive press and benefiting the environment.
How to Form a Green Team
Green teams can include facility employees and/or volunteers from local environmental organizations, student groups, community organizations, and the general public. A diverse green team will likely give you better feedback on your green initiatives, help you engage a broader demographic, and strengthen your community outreach programs. Also, the more groups you seek to involve the more interest you are likely to attract for growing your green team.
The number of green team volunteers needed can vary based on the task and on your event and facility size. For instance, if they are collecting recyclables from fans during a game, generally anywhere from 30-60 volunteers working in pairs can be an effective team to cover the facility, including a few team coordinators to determine shifts and allocate areas of the facility to cover. Your operations staff should consult with green team coordinators to determine the best way to collect recyclables to maximize participation and minimize disruption. For example, it’s often best to schedule collections during predetermined breaks in the game so as not to block fan views or pathways, and to assign convenient drop-off locations for full bags. Ushers and facility staff should be briefed on the presence of the green team volunteers and their collection instructions.
Ideally, volunteers should be equipped with matching Green Team shirts and/or hats to identify themselves to fans while collecting. This can be a great opportunity to involve sponsors who might want to co-brand shirts, hats, and/or recycling bins to promote your environmental efforts. Also consider making public service announcements or scrolling notices on the JumboTron about the green team volunteers collecting recyclables and information about your recycling program.
Below are some sample announcements and instructions to recruit green team volunteers and other ideas for increasing green team involvement.
Sample Green Team Announcement
[Our organization] has launched an organization-wide effort to improve our environmental performance and facility operations. To help with this effort, we are looking for Green Team volunteers from the community to help educate fans about our initiatives and collect recyclables during games.
The [Organization/Co-branded] Green Team is a group of volunteers that walk down the aisles during game breaks to collect recyclables and educate fans about our recycling/composting program and other environmental initiatives. Volunteers are asked to arrive at the facility 45-60 minutes before the game to receive instructions, a Green Team t-shirt and equipment, and participate in a brief training session.
In exchange for your volunteering services, you will be able to watch the game in standing room only sections of the facility. Collection will only occur during game breaks so as not to obscure the view of other fans. You will also be entered into monthly drawings to win select prices and tickets to upcoming games.
Please pre-register through our website to volunteer. We hope you will join us in promoting environmental initiatives at our facility and in the community!
Sample Recycling Green Team Volunteer Instructions
Thank you for volunteering for [Our Organization’s] Green Team. Please be advised of the following policies and instructions while volunteering [be sure to adapt these instructions for your facility]:
- [Instructions on what items to collect, and recycling/composting procedures at your facility] Collect plastic bottles (water, soda, beer bottles) ONLY. All bottles [and cups, if these are being recycled also] can be collected in a single bag. [If cups or other containers are compostable and not recyclable, add instructions like the following:] The beer cups are bio-based plastic which is compostable, and not recyclable. Guests should be encouraged to dispose of these cups in labeled COMPOST bins around the stadium.
- [Instructions on when to collect so as not to obscure views or pathways – predetermine with appropriate operations staff] As soon as every half inning ends (every three outs) / there is a commercial break / break in the game, proceed to the bottom of the section and begin collecting. Return to standing room areas as soon as the game resumes. No collecting should be done while the game is being played in order not to block the view of fans. Introduce yourself to ushers and security staff as part of the Green Team.
- [Instructions on coverage areas] Make sure to rotate aisles. This will ensure that all sections receive recycling service throughout the game.
- [Instructions for where to deposit recyclables] Once a bag is full, bring it to the central drop off location [located ____] or give to a runner or facility employee who can drop it off.
- Please do not sit in the seating bowl at any time.
- [Allotted shifts for volunteers] Green Team members will be expected to collect recyclables until [the 7th inning]. After this time, you may stay to watch the game, but please remove your Green Team shirt to indicate that you are off duty.
- Please remember: By volunteering you are representing [our organization.] It is our goal to create a safe, fun, family friendly environment and entertainment experience for all fans and guests by providing exceptional customer service.
Ideas to involve members of the community
- Post volunteer recruiting announcements on your organization’s website and around your facility, announce during games, and/or allow fans to sign up at the facility
- Distribute branded t-shirts, hats, reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, or shopping bags along with a memo or brochure explaining your organization’s initiative
- Offer a monthly raffle for autographed items, game tickets, or other prizes for participation in your organization’s green team
- Provide clear and very visible signs at recycling, water fountains, and food stations facility-wide to promote compliance with the organization’s eco-practices and make announcements during games
- Organize green team social events to build interest and reward members
Professional Sports Green Team Examples
The Boston Red Sox Poland Spring Green Team is a group of 30-50 local college student volunteers. The volunteers spread throughout the seating bowl at Fenway Park during the game to gather plastic bottles and cups. In 2008 the Green Team collected over 25 tons of plastics. In addition to the Green Team, fans are encouraged to use the Poland Spring/Waste Management recycling bins throughout the ballpark to dispose of their recyclable items.
The St Louis Cardinals Ice Mountain Green Team is a group of volunteers who walk down the aisles of the seating bowl between innings collecting recyclables from fans and promoting recycling at Busch Stadium. With the help of the Ice Mountain Green Team, 745 tons of recyclable materials were diverted from local landfills in 2010.
Beginning in 2008, the Pittsburgh Pirates implemented a robust recycling program at PNC Park. At the end of each game, the Pirates have game day staff stationed at the exits of each section to accept any plastic bottles, which fans are encouraged to collect from their seating areas. A “Green Team” made up of members from the PNC Park cleaning staff walks through every area of the ballpark picking up all plastic bottles prior to the ballpark’s cleaning each night. All bottles are collected and recycled. Contour bottle-shaped recycling receptacles with the “Let’s Go Bucs. Let’s Go Green” logo are placed throughout the park.