On a hot Thursday afternoon in Philadelphia, hundreds of Philadelphians and cars full of friends and family began to arrive at South Philadelphia’s Franklin D. Roosevelt Park, first in a trickle, and then in a steady stream. Despite a series of high temperatures above 90 degrees and Code Orange Ozone Alerts, these groups of people were reserving a spot somewhere in the park so they could sit out in the sun and gather around one purpose—to support the Philadelphia Eagles. Beyond a big showing to support the Birds in their season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) staff found another way to help fans go green.
All drivers were greeted with a welcome from a staff member and then an offer that took some by surprise—”would you like an extra trash bag?” Whether cars took the free offer or not, they’d arrive at their tailgate location of choice to find a series of recycling bins and would end up receiving a personal visit from an ambassador offering additional trash bags in case they changed their minds or needed extras. This is all part of PPR’s strategy to protect the quality and condition of FDR Park while simultaneously supporting the City’s Zero Waste and Litter Action Plan.
In collaboration with the Fairmount Park Conservancy (FPC), PPR staff rallied to deliver a handful of strategies to get their guests thinking about their waste while visiting the park. According to staff, the morning after was the cleanest they had ever seen the park the day after an Eagles home game, this after a history of the park grounds being littered from corner to corner with remnants of pre-game parties and cookouts.
“I was very pleased how the park looked on Friday morning,” said District Operations Supervisor Joe Scarpello. “To me it was a combination of things: my crew putting out the extra recycling bins before the game, giving out trash bags was a plus, and keeping up on the cans before the game started. All in all this contributed to less time cleaning up the park on Friday.”
PPR Sustainability and Quality Control Manager Daniel Lawson was also blown away the day after while inspecting the recycling bins. With over 50 bins placed for the afternoon and evening tailgate that has been a tradition at FDR Park, Lawson believed it was probably the cleanest load of uncontaminated recycling he’d seen while setting up recycling operations across the PPR network.
The staff also attributes the successfully clean event to the engagement itself. Outside of handing out bags and placing bins, PPR and FPC staff were meeting fans from the community face to face and asking for their help in keeping the park beautiful and educating them about simple things they can do. The event was inspiring to the PPR staff, who plan to deploy similar strategies for the rest of the season home games hoping for similar results. Hopefully the fans can continue to get behind the effort just like they get behind their home team. The bottom line: now we know how to play like champions.