The Most Sustainable Super Bowl Ever

by Danielle Sarmir
What can small businesses learn about sustainability from Super Bowl 50?

The Most Sustainable Super Bowl Ever - Root360Where will you be this Sunday night? I plan on being one of the 110 million-plus people watching the Super Bowl.  Since you clicked on this post, I’m going to guess that you’ll also be tuning in to watch the Broncos and Panthers. (But don’t be one of the roughly 1.5 million who call out sick the next day! Bosses have caught onto the “Super Bowl Monday Fake Cough” bit.) Sure, I’m excited for the game, the ads, and all the food and craft beer I’m going to consume…but I’m also excited that Super Bowl 50 is on track to be the most sustainable Super Bowl ever.

This year’s Super Bowl is aiming to be a “net positive event” — which means the organizers are actively looking for ways to do good and reduce their impact. In an interview at GreenSportsBlog, Neill Duffy, the co-chair of the Sustainability Sub Committee and sustainability advisor for the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, described the pillars of net positive as:

Climate change: We will focus on delivering a low-carbon event and maximize sustainable transportation and temporary power.

Responsible use of natural resources: Sustainable procurement across our supply chain with a focus on food, water and waste.

Inspire fans to embrace sustainability personally.

Sustainable legacy: This ties back to our 50 Fund and other signature sustainability projects that will leave the Bay Area in better shape than when Super Bowl 50 arrived.

So essentially, Super Bowl 50 is taking a triple bottom line approach, as they focus on balancing environmental and social concerns, and of course, profit (tickets are starting at $3090 on Stub Hub as I write this).   Their planned impacts will be great and I hope that they’re successful, so fans watching the game will learn about their sustainability initiatives.

While the NFL and the Super Bowl certainly don’t qualify as a small business, we here at www.root360.org like to look at large corporations’ sustainable actions for inspiration as to how small- and medium-sized businesses can take a triple bottom line approach to their operations.  So, let’s explore what small businesses can learn from Super Bowl 50’s efforts to be sustainable.

  • Put sustainability front and center. While you don’t have the resources that the NFL brings to bear, you can follow their lead and implement as many sustainable options as possible. Super Bowl 50 will be held at Levi’s Stadium – the League’s greenest stadium.  Does your office building embrace new ways to go greener? Hopefully your small business doesn’t use enough energy to power 3000 homes like the stadium does, but you can learn from their strategies and implement renewable energy technology like solar panels to offset your energy usage; switch to LED lighting where possible; or expand your recycling efforts beyond paper, to include all other materials in your office.
  • Inspire your customers, suppliers and clients to embrace sustainability. Your platform isn’t as big as the Super Bowl’s, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a voice or an important message. Share your latest sustainability solutions in your newsletter, or create a page on your website to talk about what you’re doing.  Consider how your products and services are used when people take them home. Ask your suppliers what they’re doing.  Having the conversation inspires awareness!
  • What’s your legacy in your community? The Super Bowl takes place in a different arena each year, and has only one chance to leave the community better than they found it. Super Bowl 50 will leave thousands of trees planted in a reforestation effort around the Bay area and the Sierra Nevada watershed and has projects to benefit low-income schools and youth programs.But your business has the opportunity every day, year after year, to better the community within which it operates. Do you allow your employees time off to work with non-profits or other partners on projects to clean up your neighborhood? Do you work to reduce your use of resources that are critical in your community? (Super Bowl 50, which is taking place in drought-stricken California, has a number of water saving initiatives in place.)  What are the things you really care about?

So, on Sunday night when you sit down, crack open your craft beer, and pop a sustainably sourced munchie in your mouth, think about the pledge this year’s Super Bowl has made and about how you can use their ideas to improve your business’s commitment to sustainability and its community.

Danielle Sarmir is a Senior Program Associate for Manomet’s Sustainable Economies Program. She has more than 15 years of experience working in marketing, government and public relations, and has engaged with a wide variety of sectors from nonprofits to the hospitality industry to manufacturing (sustainable packaging, biobased materials, efficient lighting and more).

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