Snowboarders who overshoot the half-pipe lip won’t be the only ones getting trashed at the 2009 Winter X Games in Aspen/Snowmass, Colo. At Global Inheritance’s TRASHed Recycling Store, attendees at the Jan. 22-25 games can use bottles, cans and other recyclables to barter for brand-partner prizes, such as Netflix memberships and Quiksilver T-shirts.
“We’re the only currency involving cans,” said Eric Ritz, executive director of Global Inheritance, a seven-year-old nonprofit. “Kids keep the venue clean by collecting items they can exchange for points they use to buy things. Cool stuff that’s relevant to the audience.”
Global Inheritance’s goal is to inspire youth activism that will lead to progressive social change. At events including Live Earth, the Vans Warped Tour, the Sundance Film Festival, the San Diego Street Scene and the Coachella Music Festival, TRASHed Recycling Stores have collected “tens of thousands of cans,” according to Ritz, who says the yield is influenced by each locale’s logistics, such as weather and proclivity toward progressiveness.
While the Winter X Games won’t likely be a big market for collecting the empty vessels of frosty Mountain Dews and other beverages, patrons will be given other incentives. At the TRASHed Store, they’ll get points for acing eco quizzes and other activities. While their generation seems prime for green marketing, Ritz said the alt-sports fan isn’t necessarily excited about the environment or social messages. Letting a skater swap some cans for a prized pit pass could be a gateway to serious activism in the future, he said.
Brands sponsor TRASHed programs by donating products, such as yearly Netflix memberships, Quiksilver apparel and passes to movie screenings. ESPN, Focus Features and others are also on board. “A lot of time people get free stuff and don’t know what to do with it, but these kids are actually earning points to buy these things,” Ritz said. “They probably wouldn’t be spending time recycling if they didn’t want these items.”
In a “Get Caught Recycling” program, fans that are seen putting cans and bottles in the correct bins are rewarded with tokens they can redeem for prizes at the TRASHed Recycling Store.
Through its X Games Environmentality (XGE) initiative, Disney has stepped up recycling efforts to green its games, which are shown live on ESPN and ABC. It began using alternative fuels to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and in 2006, 70 percent of the Winter Games waste was diverted from Aspen landfills. The corporate Web site details the Games’ use of bio fuel-powered RFTA shuttles and 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper.