Today is Earth Day, and in recent years, Major League Baseball teams have taken to using the holiday to highlight the league’s efforts to go green and promote sustainability both at their stadiums and in their communities. In 2008, for instance, the Seattle Mariners played baseball’s first-ever carbon-neutral game, and the Chicago Cubs have celebrated the holiday in the past by powering Wrigley Field with 100 percent renewable energy.
The efforts go beyond Earth Day — teams like the Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, and others have taken major steps to increase recycling at their ballparks and reduce waste and energy consumption.
Here are a few ways MLB teams are marking Earth Day in 2014:
Boston Red Sox: In Boston, United States Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will throw out a ceremonial pitch before the Sox take on the New York Yankees. Moniz will be joined by Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Gina McCarthy, who will also throw a ceremonial pitch before the game.
Washington Nationals: Bob Perciasepe, the deputy administrator of the EPA, will throw out the first pitch before tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals are in New York tonight to play the Mets, but back in St. Louis the team is launching its fifth annual Green Week at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals will host events throughout the week to promote recycling of goods like computers and shoes and to celebrate their efforts to become more environmentally sustainable. Since moving to the new Busch Stadium in 2006, the Cardinals say they have reduced energy use by 20 percent, increased recycling efforts, and reduced food waste by donating unused concession food.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays are selling discounted Earth Day tickets to tonight’s game against the Minnesota Twins. The proceeds from each ticket will go toward Tampa Watch and the Break A Bat, Plant A Ball program, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Those programs support efforts to preserve the wetlands around Tampa Bay.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies are on the road in Los Angeles tonight, but they celebrated Earth Day while at home last week with Red Goes Green Day, during which members of the organization planted trees to promote a partnership that seeks to restore the Philadelphia region’s tree population. The EPA and other groups were on hand at the game to help teach fans how they could preserve energy and reduce waste.
Major League Baseball and the other major American sports leagues all participated in a press conference on Capitol Hill last year to outline the steps they had taken to reduce energy consumption, in part to address costs but also because the leagues are increasingly becoming aware of how climate change may affect their sports. Winter and summer sports from football to skiing to surfing have felt the effects of a changing climate, and baseball could soon face a threat to one of its hallmark products: in March, Louisville Slugger, which manufactures 45 percent of all wooden bats used in Major League Baseball, told the web site DailyClimate.org that the effects of climate change were “knocking on the doorstep,” as a warming climate could introduce tree-killing bugs into the forests where it gets the wood to make its bats.
The NBA has also undertaken its own public environmentalism efforts — the league held its annual NBA Goes Green week from April 3 to April 10 before its playoffs started over the weekend.