How green were the X Games? |

How green were the X Games?

Joel Stonington
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

If climate change goes along projected routes, there won’t be much of an X Games in 100 years.So ESPN purchased wind energy credits to offset 100 percent of emissions at the 2006 Winter X Games. Credits help reduce carbon emissions by supporting a renewable, clean form of energy.But being green can be difficult to judge, especially with so many large corporations spending more time marketing the green image than actually being green a style of lip service dubbed greenwashing. Dylan Hoffman, outreach coordinator for the Pitkin County Solid Waste Center, said that is not the case with the X Games.

“ESPN is committed to doing this for the right reasons,” Hoffman said. “It’s not an image thing.”Auden Schendler, director of environmental affairs for the Aspen Skiing Co., agreed.”My sense is that they’ve made a genuine effort,” he said, “and I also see organizations that aren’t. I’m confident they’ve done a great job.”The majority of environmental efforts at the X Games this year was focused on solid waste issues, likely because it is easier to focus on something that’s more tangible than global warming. There is also a financial incentive. The Pitkin County landfill charges $21 per cubic yard of trash and $12 per cubic yard for wood. It accepts recyclables, including bottles, cans and cardboard, for free and ships them off for reuse.

“If you hit people in their pocketbooks, that’s a good way to drive environmental change,” Hoffman said. X Games fans had incentives as well. Those who recycled a bottle got a token, exchangeable for prizes at a booth. There was also a quiz of environmental questions, with tokens for rewards. Officials say the event was a great educational tool. “It’s a high-profile event,” Hoffman said. “There’s a lot of people. We can do a tremendous amount of outreach.”And in an experiment, Pitkin County teamed up with ESPN to try something new this year: using compostable plates and cups made from sugarcane and corn for the staff meal tent.

Even if the plates and cups go into the landfill, they were made with organic materials and won’t just sit there for thousands of years, like plastic would, Hoffman said. If the experiment works, the county expects to promote the idea throughout the valley for future events. Though Hoffman said he wasn’t hoping for anything near a zero-waste event anytime soon, he hopes events can cut their waste in half. Although there is still a large amount of waste to be hauled – much of it wood – the X Games could approach that.Wally Graham, owner of Waste Solutions, did the trash hauling for the X Games this year. The rough numbers he has show Waste Solutions hauled 15 tons of recyclables 10 tons of cardboard, 30 tons of trash and 125 cubic yards of compostable waste (five full, large trash bins). “What we did not expect was how clean the recyclables would be,” Graham said.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is