March is upon us. In Kentucky, that can only mean one thing – basketball. I’m a transplant from a state that cares a lot about hockey, baseball, football – pretty much everything but basketball (sorry, Timberwolves) – but I am part of the Big Blue Nation now.
When the Wildcat’s won the NCAA championship for the eighth time in 2012, University of Kentucky students weren’t the only ones celebrating. A Transylvania University student at the time, I noticed that my campus seemed to shift slightly south to take on State Street with the rest of Lexington. Basketball fan or not, I’m sure you were either there or you’ve seen the pictures: riot police, flaming couches, overturned cars…sounds fun, right?
In all seriousness, basketball season is a time that really brings Lexingtonians together. Many people see March Madness celebrations as essential to their identity as Kentuckians. Whether you plan to host viewing parties, catch the game at your favorite local restaurant or take to the streets after a win, there are ways to cheer on the Cats while being careful of unintended environmental consequences.
Snacks are a must when sports are involved. When you’re stocking up on munchies for you and your guests, remember that UK basketball is about celebrating Kentucky! What better way to show your support for the Commonwealth than buying local for your game day eats? The local beer and cheese selection in this state is amazing, not to mention the beer cheese; why would you waste an opportunity to enjoy these delicious items?
Speaking of waste, there are ways to avoid that this basketball season, too. If you go overboard on the snacks, send leftovers home with friends at the end of the night or add some to your lunchbox to take to work the next day. Food waste is a huge issue in the United States. Just because your eyes are bigger than your stomach doesn’t mean you have to be at fault.
Of course, food isn’t the only thing making its way into our landfills this basketball season; social gatherings mean trash of all kinds. Reduce packaging waste by buying in bulk when you can. Making your own chips and dip is another great way to cut back on packaging and a surefire way to impress your guests. It’s a lot easier than it sounds. There are tons of simple game day recipes that don’t require a whole lot of prep time, so don’t let worries of being in the kitchen during tip off keep you from giving it a try.
Make sure to recycle those cans and bottles when celebrating, and avoid disposable plates, cups and cutlery. Lots of websites have electronic brackets, so when challenging your friends and making your picks this year, skip the paper and fill it out on the website you’d be printing it from instead. And for those of you planning on storming campus in a few short weeks as basketball season comes to a close, remember that litter still counts – even during March Madness!
Most importantly, if you’re looking to get rid of a couch any time soon, donate it before it becomes a streetside fire hazard. Destruction of property is never sustainable, especially when what could’ve been reused ends up charred in a landfill. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore offers free pickup of large items, and your sofa will be put to good use.
Macy Gould is the AmeriCorps VISTA member who serves as Bluegrass Greensource’s green jobs coordinator, working with educators to ensure that students are aware of and prepared for the variety of green career paths that await them after high school. Macy hails from Minneapolis but considers Lexington home. She recently graduated from Transylvania University. Outside of work, you could likely find Macy planning for her community radio show or taking a long walk downtown.