BY LINDSAY WESTER // PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER CHURCHILL
Super Bowl XLVIII will go down in history as the most-watched U.S. television event ever, but most people don’t know that it was also the Greenest Super Bowl Ever. The man behind the scenes, Michael Oshman, CEO of the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), collaborated closely with event organizers at MetLife Stadium to make this past Super Bowl the most eco-friendly yet by reducing the 195 tons of waste that the stadium restaurants produced in 2013 alone.
Michael at a Boloco restaurant in downtown Boston, one of many green certified locations (left). The GRA uses a point-based evaluation system that restaurants need to implement in order to be a certified green restaurant. (right). Cover photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.
THE GREENEST SUPER BOWL EVER
With over 200 restaurants at MetLife Stadium, bringing them all up to GRA standards wasn’t easy. Some of the eco-friendly feats accomplished at this year’s Super Bowl? Composting close to eight tons of food waste after the game. Donating unused food to soup kitchens and local food banks. Converting cooking oil to bio-fuel to power Super Bowl Boulevard in Manhattan and back-up generators at MetLife Stadium. Installing over 4,000 LED light bulbs and removing styrofoam from all of the 200+ restaurants. Phew. And that’s just for starters. In order for MetLife to become a Green Certified Restaurant, they had to implement 61 unique sustainable practices in all.
DARK GREENIES AND THE UNINTERRUPTED DINING EXPERIENCE
When it came to this year’s Super Bowl, Michael and his team were able to seamlessly transform the stadium without impacting employees or consumers. “If we do our job well, the changes are not even noticeable. We do all the dirty work, so that people can relax and enjoy their meal or game, which is what they ultimately want to do.”
Low flow, high pressure water faucets, compostable cutlery and composting stations help restaurants obtain certification.
As a self-proclaimed “Dark Greenie,” (which Michael estimates makes up about 5-10% of the population) he says, “It’s our responsibility, as thought leaders, to create legitimate solutions for the rest of the population. There are thousands of things restaurants can do to be more sustainable and one isn’t necessarily better than the other, the trick is to pick the ones that are best for each individual restaurant. That’s what the GRA did at MetLife Stadium; we created sustainable solutions and practices without people ever noticing.”
THE GRA AND THE GREEN BUSINESS MOVEMENT
Sustainable food service has the ability to deliver profound environmental results. To put it in perspective – the GRA estimates that cooking oil waste from America’s restaurants could produce enough bio-diesel to cut oil consumption by 350 million gallons per year. That’s enough to eradicate oil imports from Syria, Yemen, The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Ukraine, and Bolivia combined.
With a clear understanding of the potential impact, the GRA, founded in 1990, has helped over 1,000 restaurants across the country implement sustainable practices. “Our clientele has ranged from corporate campuses such as Microsoft, to Harvard University, to small mom and pop restaurants,” explains Oshman. “Our goal is cleaner air, cleaner water and a cleaner earth. There are thousands of practices to get there; we provide companies with the tools and guidance to ensure they are meeting the standards to achieve our end-goal.”