10/22/08 9:51 PM ET
Go Green encourages recycling at Trop
Group helps spread word in conjunction with MLB initiative
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
A group of around 40 workers went up and down sections of the Trop, handing out recycling facts and toting plastic bags that made it easy for fans to properly dispose of their plastic cans and bottles.
"We always have to protect our Earth," Go Green member Robin Hardesty said. "Baseball is a national pastime, so we may as well enjoy this and help take care of our planet."
A St. Pete resident, Hardesty was more than happy to combine her love of baseball with contributing to a good cause.
"Would you like to recycle that?" she asked kindly to a fan, who placed his plastic beer cup in her bag.
"There's more than 40,000 people in here," she said. "And if everyone can just recycle one can ... "
That's the goal, according to MLB spokeswoman Kate Gibson.
"It's the opportunity to get the idea of recycling out to millions of people," Gibson said. "And so far the fans have been really responsive."
Although the Go Green team is making the rounds at their first World Series, eco-friendly practice is hardly a new concept at Tropicana Field.
The American League champion Rays have had a winning season in more ways than one, as this is their first year operating a new green initiative called Teaming Up for the Environment. The franchise is working toward sustainability in its business practices, ballpark operations and more.
Coincidentally, the Rays began their initiative in April, which was around the same time MLB decided to up its efforts in having a green season.
"It's been excellent because we found a number of things to improve on," said senior director of development Melanie Lenz. "Our programs are cool because not only are they helping us be more efficient and sustainable from the business side, but we can also promote recycling on a large scale."
The club held monthly theme nights to promote Rays partners and raise awareness of recycling and energy and water conservation.
The ballpark also championed a recycling initiative -- the Clean-Up Hitters -- that diverted hundreds of thousands of cans and bottles from the waste stream. During the sixth inning of every home game, a group collects bottles from fans in what has become an enthusiastic tradition.
On Wednesday night, the group will be joined by members of Go Green, as recycling will be at an all-time high.
"It's been great working with the Rays and to be in sync with what they are doing," Gibson said.
Tropicana Field concessionaire Centerplate also shifted concession supplies to recyclable, compostable and biodegradable products, including replacing petroleum-based cups with corn oil-based cups.
And much their like young, up-and-coming team, the Rays are looking forward to getting better with time.
"Going green is a key program of MLB," Lenz said. "So hopefully we are living up to their expectations and [can go over] what can we do as a business organization internally, and then extending on that next year."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.