Green your tailgate

A photo of the Spartan Statdium student section holding up signs that read: Go Green.

Photo courtesy of Communications and Brand Strategy


It is that time of year in Spartan nation. The air is crisp, the leaves are turning and football season is in full swing - the perfect time for tailgating on Michigan State University's beautiful campus. With thousands of dedicated fans converging at Spartan Stadium, there are plenty of opportunities to reduce our impact this fall. So fire up the grill, join your Spartan friends and family, belt out the fight song and follow these simple tips to "Go Green" on game day. 

1. Remember to recycle

A photo of makeshift recycling containers at a tailgate.

This might seem like an obvious green tailgating tip, but it is easy to miss this step for the sake of convenience during the excitement on game day. Take the extra few minutes, or designate one person at each tailgate to sort items based on whether or not they can be recycled. MSU helps increase the convenience of recycling by placing recycling containers around the perimeter of the stadium, as well as about 150 scattered throughout campus, but we need your commitment to divert the most waste possible.  

2. Ditch the disposables

A photo of plastic dishware and refreshments.
It is certainly convenient and tempting to arrive on game day equipped with paper plates and plastic cutlery. Unfortunately, single-use dining products often end up in landfills rather than the recycling stream - last year we collected an average 16,000 pounds of landfilled material per game outside the stadium. Consider purchasing a lightweight plastic set at a garage sale or the MSU Surplus Store. They will likely cost next to nothing, and pay for themselves in only a few tailgate festivities. Plus, you will save yourself from paper plate overload spills!

If you cannot part ways with the convenience of disposable dishware, make sure to choose products that are either biodegradable or made from recycled material.

3. Green your grilling

 A photo of hot dogs cooking on a portable propane grill.

Propane is the lowest-impact option for grilling, and is the most convenient choice when cooking away from home. Although it is a fossil fuel, it burns significantly cleaner than charcoal or wood, and leaves behind less waste. When purchasing Propane tanks, make sure the retailer offers a trade-in option. Returning an empty tank can come with a significant discount when buying a replacement.

4. Go loco for local…

A photo of a fruit salad. 

Choose local, seasonal options when outfitting your tailgate menu with produce. One of tailgate season's best qualities is that it coincides with abundant farmer's market options, including the Student Organic Farm Stand, which remains open through October. Bon appètit! 

5. …and bonkers for bulk

A photo of condiments and hot dog buns in bulk containers.
When you're shopping for the perfect tailgating morsels, be sure to purchase in bulk. Using bulk condiments instead of individually packaged will save time on clean up and make for easier transport. Going wholesale will also save you money in the long run, and ultimately uses fewer materials for packaging. It is a win-win, so you can focus on the impending Spartan victory! 

Spartan football season is a favorite time of year for staff, students, alumni and the community alike. If every tailgate attendee enlists these green tips, our collective impact will be considerably reduced. Show your support for the Spartans and represent MSU properly by going green in more ways than one!