How can Clemson students live sustainably while honoring an essential football tradition?
The tailgating culture at Clemson is huge. Families and friends gather around the trunk of their cars sharing food, playing games and sporting orange — it’s the image of the traditional Clemson football season. But behind this image, a Creative Inquiry team made up of civil engineers and architecture majors saw a problem. Thousands of cars make their way to Death Valley, trash litters the parking lot and football fans end up consuming a lot more energy than they realize. These students saw the problem and found a solution: trailgating.
The concept of “trailgating” is to reduce the carbon footprint of Clemson students and fans while maintaining the traditions associated with school pride and sporting events. During last season’s homecoming game against Boston College, the Creative Inquiry (undergraduate research) team introduced their sustainable and sufficient trailgate. It is a foldout trailer, transported by bike, that includes everything a Clemson tailgater needs — a cooler, grill, table and chairs. But it uses no gas, wastes little energy and takes up a lot less space in the parking lot. The team is currently designing a larger unit to accommodate up to six families.
Carlie Metzger, a member of the Creative Inquiry team, said, “We are trying to encourage Clemson students, alumni and fans to tailgate in a more sustainable manner.”
But trailgating has moved beyond the idea of tailgating at sports events. “Trailgating” is now a word that can be applied to a lifestyle that is not only energy efficient, but also safe and fun.
The Creative Inquiry team’s website includes information about how to be more green. There are lists of green restaurants, craft ideas and articles that explain what it means to be green and how people are making strides in finding renewable energy sources. The website also provides a description of the ever popular tailgating game, cornhole, and explains how to “keep it simple … stupid!” by excluding drinking from your tailgating games.
“Living sustainably isn’t just about being green,” Metzger said. “It’s about living a healthy lifestyle.”
This Creative Inquiry team has helped put Clemson ahead in the search for sustainable solutions on college campuses, and others are taking notice. While the trailgate is a unique unit that targets an important part of the Clemson family’s lifestyle, the Creative Inquiry team is expanding its impact on other universities. The team members are currently working on patenting their project. University of Florida and University of South Carolina have already shown interest in adopting the trailgate as a part of their collegiate lifestyle.
Adding another aspect to their project, the team members are currently working on creating an amphitheatre located between Littlejohn Coliseum and the Esso Club. This location will provide a place where students can gather for sporting events or just to hang out, all while being green.
Said Metzger, “People don’t realize that when everyone starts living sustainably, the impact can be huge.”
What started out as a trailer pulled by a bike has become much more. Trailgating is about honoring tradition while respecting the environment; it’s about being green while living healthily, and keeping in mind all the ways you can live sustainably while having fun.
Expanding their trailgate to other sports arenas, the team plans to have their trailgate up at the USC vs. Clemson baseball game on Sunday, March 4. Tiger fans should come out and see how to tailgate without leaving such a large carbon footprint.