When you think of the Super Bowl, several things probably come to mind beyond the game itself.
The commercials? Of course. Big televisions and who is the halftime music act probably make the list, also.
This year, maybe even Taylor Swift.
But what about thinking about the environment? Unless your NFL team wears green, thinking “green” is probably not near the top of your list. Still, here are four ways to throw a Super Bowl party that can be good for the environment and remind all your guests that while the Panthers might not be in the big game this year, you are still watching it from North Carolina.
1. The food
What’s on the table, or often in this case the coffee table, can make or break a Super Bowl party.
While it all doesn’t have to be green to be “green,” there are ways to make it more palatable for the environment.
Experts recommend making your snacks at home, creating a homemade spread. Not only does that reduce packaging waste, but it can utilize ingredients that can support local farmers.
Plus, it will likely be fresher and healthier than something that comes from a restaurant, box or bag.
2. Keeping it local
Sure, we all know organic or free-range pork, poultry and beef are a healthier alternative. But in some cases, that’s not an option when you’re putting on a big party − whether due to cost, supply or other factors.
When it comes to vegetables, though, you generally have more choices.
According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture, Tar Heel-grown crops that are currently in season include apples, herbs, peanuts, spinach and sweet potatoes. Local farmers also can offer other local produce grown in greenhouses.
While many supermarkets are now offering sections full of N.C.-grown produce, it can sometime be a hit-or-miss proposition. That’s why some officials recommend your best bet for local veggies is a farmers’ market or a local co-op grocery store, where the source of the food is often as prominently displayed as the price.
More: No matter what your favorite Super Bowl food, here are Wilmington-area restaurants to try
3. Setting the table
According to National Geographic, the average NFL game generates 80,000 pounds of trash. That can double during the Super Bowl − and that’s just at the big game itself.
If you’re interested in being a good host, but keeping your get-together’s garbage footprint as small as possible, officials have a couple of easy recommendations.
One easy way is to avoid using paper products for dining, instead offering guests a regular “real” plate or plastic plates, cutlery and cups made from recycled materials. Guests can then wash or wipe off their plates before moving on to another dish, and regular plates and cutlery can be thrown in the dishwasher at the end of the day.
Officials also recommend keeping the use of streamers, balloons and banners to a minimum, since in many cases these decorations are just polluting ocean plastic waiting to happen. They can be especially dangerous to sea turtles that view many floating plastic and balloons as jellyfish, one of their favorite food sources.
Recycling glasses and aluminum cans also is a quick and easy way to keep material that can be reused out of the landfill, and for those with a “green” thumb composting food waste is another way to help reduce your waste stream and improve the look of your garden.
4. Local beverages?
Talking about cans and glasses, what would a good Super Bowl party be without a few beverages?
If you’re sticking to supporting North Carolina producers, you have a wide variety of choices from Cheerwine to the dozen-plus microbreweries that call the Port City home or plenty more a little farther afield. According to the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild, the Tar Heel State boasts the largest number of craft breweries in the South, with more than 410 breweries and brewpubs − and many of their products are available on local supermarket shelves.
North Carolina also has a growing spirits ecosystem, with several distilleries in Wilmington, and many products available at local ABC stores.
For those driving or deciding on something a bit tamer on Sunday, officials recommend buying big bottles of soda instead of individual servings and avoiding bottled water if possible.
Reporter Gareth McGrath can be reached at [email protected] or @GarethMcGrathSN on X/Twitter. This story was produced with financial support from the Green South Foundation and the Prentice Foundation. The USA TODAY Network maintains full editorial control of the work.
This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: Having an environmentally friendly Super Bowl party in North Carolina