The NHL goes green with 40,000 reusable bags at the 2011 Winter Classic

The National Hockey League has kept the promises of its NHL Green initiative, which was announced one year ago. The Winter Classic, an annual New Year’s Day tradition where two NHL teams play against each other on an outdoor rink, was the main event where the NHL was able to debut some of its sustainability initiatives. This year the game was held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Heinz Field, the NHL as well as the Pittsburgh Penguins teamed up to ensure that the Winter Classic was an environmentally friendly event with as little environmental impact as possible.   Merchandise stands throughout Heinz Field were stocked with 40,000 reusable commemorative bags instead of plastic ones, and these reusable bags were given away free with purchases. Because game-day tends to bring with it higher amounts of trash as well as food and drink containers that can be recycled, the city of Pittsburgh also installed new recycling receptacles on the streets around Heinz Field. Unsold prepared food was redistributed, and recyclables from tailgate parties outside of the game and the parking lot were collected.

During the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, both team arenas were stocked with 30,000 reusable bags, encouraging fans to do their part.

The new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Consol Energy Center, is also the NHL’s first LEED Gold-certified arena. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the standard for green buildings across the United States and Canada.

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