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Happy Earth Day: How to Enjoy Baseball in a Sustainable Manner

I know this post may not appeal to everyone out there, but it is Earth Day and my second passion is nature.* We all watch and/or follow baseball on a daily basis, so how can we do this in a manner that is more environmentally friendly? I've got a couple tips and ideas beyond the jump, so continue on if you're interested; if not, ignore this post and move on with your lives.

* Also, I majored in Environmental Studies in college, so this is chance for me to use my degree for once. 

Public Transport or Carpooling - This should be a no-brainer. If you're going to a game, try not to drive the whole way there if it's only you in the car. From what I gather, public transportation seems to be hard to come by in Tampa-St. Pete, so find someone else going to the game as well and carpool. Either that or convince someone else you know to come along - that way you're not driving alone and you're also increasing attendance for the Rays. Oh, and you'll save money on parking if you carpool to the Trop.

Don't Buy Pointless Souvenirs - Whenever you go to a game (or even go online) there are so many different tchochke souvenirs available to show your support for the Rays. Looking through the Rays' online store right now, I'm seeing over fifteen different types of t-shirts, a Rays Snuggie, a pink Mother's Day bat, jewelry, shot glasses,  baseball cards, eight different jersey designs (at least), watches, polos, bobble heads, Christmas ornaments, DVDs - you name it, you can find it. As a hardcore fan of a team, it can be tempting to have multiple jerseys, t-shirts, and hats to show off your support for the team, but how many different items do you really need? Pointless consumption is a really bad habit, but there's an environmental cost in everything you purchase. I'm not saying to not buy anything, but get a couple items that you'll use frequently and cut yourself off after that. 

Use Less Energy - Last night, I noticed at one point that I was talking on the phone while watching the Rays' game on my laptop and the Yankees' game on my television. I was the only one in the downstairs of my house, but lights were turned on in every room, including three in the room I was sitting in. Excessive? I'd say so. I'm not saying that you shouldn't watch the game on television and comment in our Gameday threads, but just that you should be aware of what energy you're using and turn appliances off when you're not actually using them. While on the phone for a half hour, I could have turned off the Yankee game and been none the worse for it; also, I could have cut down on the amount of lights I had on downstairs in general. Was I getting any benefit from those lights or using them at the time? No, so why did I have them on?

Don't Drink Soda, Drink Beer! - One of my personal pet peeves is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is an artificial sweetener that's in just about any food product you can imagine. Start checking labels if you're skeptical. Your latte? You'd better believe it. Cereal? More than likely. Your morning bagel? Oh yes. Jelly? Yup. The juice in your fridge? Most likely HFCS is the second ingredient behind water. The list is outrageous and that's a rather bad thing considering HFCS has been proven to a) make us fat, b) alter our metabolisms to make us even fatter, and c) contain trace amounts of mercury.

And so, for your own health and for the good of the environment, I recommend ditching the soda and switching to beer. Why beer? Well, to begin with it's great for drinking while at a game or at home; it's the classic baseball drink. Beer doesn't contain any HFCS and although beer requires lots of packaging (just like soda), it can also be available from a tap (no packaging = good!) and in local/organic varieties. While the Pepsis in my neighborhood are getting flown and trucked in from goodness knows where, I can enjoy a local Yuengling brew that's only been driven here from Pennsylvania. Satisfying and sustainable - that's a double win.

Support Your Local Team - As I just mentioned, local is always better than distant. Large corporations need to ship products around the world to get them to your community, burning lots of fossil fuels in the process, but local companies are already at your back door. Buying local also keeps money in your community and promotes community development, which are worthy goals regardless of if you give two darns about fossil fuels. Teams invest their money in the local community, so help build a sense of local pride by supporting your local team. I'm sure the Rays (and the environment!) would appreciate it.*

*I realize that there's a certain amount of irony here, considering I'm living in New Jersey. I'm not trying to say I'm perfect; I'm just laying this out there for others to think about.