The Philadelphia Eagles may not have a winning record on the field, but they are setting the record in the NFL as the greenest team in football.
"They are the gold standard," says Tim Sexton, a Los Angeles-based environmental and marketing consultant, who organized American Idol's "Give Back" charity event as well as Philadelphia's LiveAid concert. He was hired by the Eagles to start "Go Green," a huge effort to become environmentally friendly.
Now, as soon as fans enter the Philadelphia Eagles stadium, they're part of Go Green, even if they don't know it.
Tickets and programs are printed on recycled paper -- 40 tons of it every year.
The beer vendor shouting to fans -- "get your beer here!" -- is part of it, too. The plastic cups vendors use, imprinted with the "greenware" logo, are made of corn-based material that disintegrates in just 50 days instead of the three years it takes for a regular plastic cup.
The Eagles cheerleaders also get into the act -- using poms-poms made of recyclable material.
Not every Eagles' fan can appreciate all the nuances of "Go Green." When asked if he knew he was drinking from a recyclable cup, one fan answered with a puzzled "no."
But soon his friend came to the rescue and told him, rather disdainfully, "That means recycle."
Some Fans Are Buying In
Eagles owner Christina Lurie just wants fans to get onboard with the program.
"Having a platform of a sports team," she says, "we can really educate our fans, and we can spread the word."
There are some fans getting the message. A group of tailgaters outside the Eagles stadium said they'd never recycled until they heard about the Eagles' Go Green program. Now they proudly show off the trash bags where they recycle all their cans and bottles.
Football teams typically leave a big environmental footprint. But one-third of the Eagles' energy comes from renewable resources. And the team tries to use as few chemicals as possible.
The stadium's lights are the biggest drain.There are 572 of them at 2,000 watts each. That's enough to power more than 1,000 homes. But the lights at the Eagle's stadium run on 100 percent clean energy such as wind power.
The playing field got its lush green field from organic fertilizer.
Even in the fancy executive suites, the plates used to serve food are made of sugar cane and reed.
But no matter how green the Eagles may be, fans still see red when their team loses.
"That's garbage!" shouted one fan after a recent team loss. And he wasn't talking about recycling.
But that's exactly what happens after the 70,000-plus fans leave the stadium Two crews go to work. One picks up all the recyclable material while the second group handles the nonrecyclable garbage.
The Eagles estimate they've recycled 150 tons of material since starting Go Green, and have saved more than 200 tons of trees. And that makes the rest of the NFL green with envy.