Tips for the Green Mage

Posted on Monday, December 21st, 2015 by Evan Erwin Wearing a Grateful Dead Shirt
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Posted in mtg


Seattle, Washington – Hello fellow earthlings! Today I’m Gaea’s Herald, bringing you a message that can’t be countered. Our planet is heating up. You may say, “Evan Raingiver Erwin, I know that, I listen to podcasts. There’s nothing we can do because of those Phyrexians in our Congress!” Well, let old Raingiver give you a bit of folk wisdom: don’t remove yourself from the problem. The most recent spikes in climate change have coincided almost perfectly with the recent rise in MtG’s popularity. That causation correlates, friend! Luckily, there are simple steps we can take to help the planet while still enjoying the cardboard we crave. I’ll be using my local gaming store The Dungeon Space as an example of sustainability in action!

Play Limited
Limited is one of best ways that we enjoy the Magic in our lives and is actually one of the most sustainable ways to play. Here’s a simple mind trick: cards = carbon. The more cards in your deck, the more CO2 you’ve released into our atmosphere. But limited has a deck size of only 40; that’s 20 less cards you’re releasing into the atmosphere. Plus, limited reminds us of what we have already. Rather than buying new packs cleaved from a sloth’s living room, why not crack some of those Fallen Empires boosters sitting around? Those packs only have 8 cards each so that’s almost half of the CO2 emissions of a normal draft! I had a blast last night at our Fallen Empires-Fallen Empires-Homelands draft, where I pulled a Derelor for my Sustainable Practices Cube. Plus, why not take the small deck mentality of limited and bring it into your store rules? The Dungeon Space has banned Battle of Wits, the Hummer of MtG, and 100% of people passing through our doors have respected the ban! Employees instruct every customer on the impact Battle of Wits decks have on the wolf habitat. People working together to educate each other: people power!

Another great way to caress Gaea is through proxies; rather than own a card, why not own a card-like object? Recycled materials are obviously best for this: candy bar wrappers, extra sleeves, used lottery tickets. But why not go one step further and make biodegradable proxies? Imagine the look on your opponent’s face when you explain that this pile of leaves is Snapcaster Mage. Don’t worry about it touching other cards; it’s 100% natural friend! Need a big guy like Emrakul? Try a potted herb like rosemary or thyme. Not only will it represent the unyielding destructive impulses of a cosmic horror (Re. Congress) but will also bring a pleasant scent to the battlefield while it cycles the fetid air in your local gaming store.
If you have some money to burn but don’t have a green thumb there are tons of proxy websites who will do the planting and tending for you. Many of them even have an amazing promise: for every proxy you buy from them, they’ll send another copy to a struggling village in the Global South. Bring the joy of the world’s greatest card game to those less fortunate while you bring the pain to your opponent’s face! Of course these communities may not be familiar with Magic, so these companies often send photocopies of the card rather than the plant. Magic is for everyone.

Share Cards
The other route you can go to cut down on your cardsumption is to share. If your friend needs something, share it with him; you’d be surprised at how much you can cut back when you work together. You and a friend both playing Twin at the GP and you only have four Scalding Tarns between the two of you? Request to sit next to each other! If you explain you’re saving the planet while you pluck a used Tarn from your earthsister’s graveyard, your opponents won’t mind! You may think this slows down the game but the extra time is actually nice in this More!Now! World. I use it to prune and water my prized Tarmogoyf proxies.

Green Your Store
But we don’t just consume Magic on the level of individual players, we also consume it as stores. What is a simple way to make your store more sustainable? Change the prize structure! A typical store might award eight packs for going 4-0 on draft night, but my store does something a little more meaningful: for every pack of cards you would win, the store instead buys back that many acres of Brazilian rain forest. It makes us players play even harder since we can feel our children’s futures on the line! At the end of the night everyone is a winner.
Another place where Magic players waste a lot is in our food. All that Styrofoam and plastic and foil goes directly into our fishing stocks. The Dungeon Space has a strict compost policy: if you bring it in, you better compost it on your way out. People didn’t get the gist at first but the build up of garbage was so immense that people changed their behavior, and therefore the world. Say what you will but it added a lot of atmosphere to my Golgari pool at the Return to Ravnica prerelease!

Eliminate Plastics
There are a few ways we drain the planet that Wizards of the Coast has no control over. I’m talking about accessories: dice, counters, sleeves, play mats, and card boxes. But every one of these has a green alternative! Instead of dice to track life, I just follow the sun. For counters on creatures, individual drops of rainwater do the trick. My sleeves are hand-sewn from sustainable bamboo grown on a small family farm in Thailand that has been making bamboo sleeves for over a hundred years. For playmats, try a small bed of native grass or other ground cover. Unfortunately, there’s no alternative to card boxes.

The reward of practices like these is not just in saving the planet, but also in enriching your community. The Dungeon Space used to be a sweaty, linoleum-tiled nerd chamber. Now there are birds everywhere! Birds of every shape, size, and color, and they sing while we play Standard!