49ers Doin’ it Right

Like many 49er fans, I met the news of the Santa Clara stadium with a certain degree of shock: would our beloved niners really have to play outside their home city? While I personally would have much preferred the 49ers and the city of San Francisco work out the difficulties of
building a new stadium in Candlestick Point, I am still pleased with outcome of the plans for the new Santa Clara facility, set to be completed in time for the 2014 season.

Upon completion, the Santa Clara stadium is set to become the NFL’s first LEED certified stadium and the largest LEED certified structure on record furnished with a huge green roof and about 20,000 sq. ft. of photovoltaic panels (solar power). The facility will utilize recycled water for landscaping irrigation and toilets and the developers have even set a goal for diverting 75% of the non-hazardous construction waste from landfills. The 49er’s CEO, Jed York, has even expressed interest in showcasing local foods at stadium vendors.

There is a lot to be excited about for the future of the Niners: The Harbaugh era has commenced and the team is getting a well-deserve new stadium in the heart of Silicon Valley. Let’s just hope the 49ers don’t fumble their focus of environmental sustainability as they march on to their next super bowl victory.


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Nike Better World

What are you supposed to do with all your old shoes that are too small or too worn out to even donate? Nike’s reuse a shoe program will take them off your feet for you and turn them into new sport surfaces for other athletes to tread on, closing the product’s life cycle. What is really great about this program is that the recycling process utilizes all portions of acceptable shoes (and Livestrong bracelets) for different purposes: rubber for new track surfaces, fabric for padding underneath basketball courts, and foam for tennis court underlayment (and a host of other uses as well). It’s all part of Nike’s Better World campaign which spotlights Nike’s robust list of low impact products (and cheeky eco-friendly slogans) for athletes worldwide. In fact, Nike scored number 3 of all companies surveyed in the Climate Counts corporate environmental responsibility rank organized by Clean Air-Cool Planet.

As a global leader in sports equipment manufacturing, I applaud Nike’s efforts in recycling, responsible manufacturing and promoting environmental awareness. I hope that this kind of stewardship spreads throughout all sports businesses and organizations in order to keep this planet prime for all future athletes, or as Nike puts it, kick ass without kicking the planet’s ass.

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Eco Touring: Bike and Skate Across USA

Travelling cross country via a bicycle or skateboard certainly gives new meaning to eco-tourism! Two sports which propel its players forward with speed and grace are also being commandeered to journey farther than ever before. Biking across America has several
established organizations dedicated to publicizing safe cross country endeavors and raising funds for charitable causes. One of my own friends is just finishing her own two wheel voyage and did a wonderful job documenting the ride!

On the other hand, Skate Across USA was a recent discovery for me. At the beginning of this month, I learned that several of my own friends were embarking on a skating expedition of their own on September 2nd from Santa Cruz, California to San Diego, California. I was thrilled to learn that there was already an organization devoted to promoting safe skate tours and raising funds for great causes! Furthermore, Skate Across USA has already completed a successful trip from California to New York.

Obviously, safety is of the highest priority in both means of travel and hitting the road with the right gear (helmets and gloves) will make your adventure go much smoother. Fitness level is another factor in both modes as well; you wouldn’t want to leave home completely unprepared for the demanding journey and turn around after day one. However, only minimal experience biking or skateboarding is required and the sheer amount of practice you get within the first few hours of traveling will immediately improve your skills.

Mastering a sport, exploring new territories, helping charitable causes all while riding on man powered machines? Now that’s something to write home about.

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Waste to Waves

As a sport that depends on clean oceans for its survival, surfing seems like the perfect candidate for a green sport. I was really blown
away to hear about such a successful trash to treasure system come about. Waste to waves is a Styrofoam (expanded polystyrene) recycling program through Sustainable Surf where anyone in possession of Styrofoam can simply drop it off at collection centers, usually found in coastal surfing cities. The material is then processed and used to generate new surfboards, finally putting all that Styrofoam packaging to good use! I am so thrilled to hear that a material which is so difficult for resource recovery centers to manage is now being used like this and now I can’t wait to pick up my first recycled foam board. Any sport born from the waves is bound to clean up its act and this certainly won’t be the last post you will get about surfing.

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Green Sports Alliance

Major league sports franchises have traditionally been symbols of strength and pride, inspiring and entertaining the masses for generations. More recently, top tier leagues have been adopting a new symbol of recognition: sustainability. Spearheaded by efforts from the Green Sports Alliance, a growing number of soccer, hockey, basketball, football, baseball, lacrosse teams and tennis and golf venues are now making environmental issues a top priority.

The Alliance’s goal is to bring sports organizations and environmental experts together in order to improve the environmental performance of sports facilities and operations. They are hosting their second annual Green Sports Summit in Seattle, Washington on September 5-7th and have arranged workshops on sustainable facility operations, innovative concession solutions, and much more. The Alliance’s website boasts a newsfeed (which I have been frequenting) and a featured member spotlight, currently of the Philadelphia Eagles, who have been tackling their waste generation head on, boasting a 99% landfill diversion rate, among other outstanding achievements.

Large sporting events generate large amounts of waste from the many thousands of food and drink containers thrown away, to the energy consumed with the powering and lighting of the stadiums and transporting of the teams and fans. It makes me extremely optimistic to see these teams taking steps to address these concerns kudos to the Green Sports Alliance for being the vehicle of this change. I am especially curious to see what kind of changes will come to concession stands at baseball parks and football stadiums in the coming years. Will hot dogs and cracker jacks be a thing of the past, replaced by locally sourced minimally packaged kale and zucchini chips?

This kind of collaboration is a new source of pride and inspiration from sports teams that will foster environmental activism from a widespread fan base all whilst  rooting for your home team.

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How much would you recycle if your reputation depended on it? What about if your school’s reputation depended on it? This is just the spirit the organizers of Recyclemania tap into with their annual recycling competition. Beginning in 2001, with a recycling challenge between Ohio University and Miami University, Recyclemania has grown to include over 600 schools!  For a period of 8 weeks, colleges in the United States and Canada report the amount of recycling collected on a weekly basis and are then ranked in various categories such as best recycling rate per capita and who generates the least amount of recycling and trash combined. Then, as the results start coming in, each school (especially diehard rivals) has a more relatable incentive to motivate their student body to recycle to the max and beat opposing teams’ scores! Congratulations to American University, 2012’s overall grand champion with an impressive landfill diversion rate of 85.16% throughout the span of the competition.

The recyclemaniacs claim the competition is responsible for a large spike in overall recycling rate of the participating schools and that it clearly boots the visibility of recycling efforts during the span of the contest. 8 weeks is plenty of time to start new habits and I’m sure after the winners have been revealed most new recyclers continue the good work!  My favorite thing about this event is that it uses a common personal green activity, recycling, and effectively turns it into a team sport with astounding results, especially at schools with big sports programs.

I grew up recycling but I recognize that many of us did not; Recyclemania makes me hopeful that any college student with a competitive spirit will be inspired to participate in such a worthy cause. It even seems this competition format would work at any school level and possibly even between rival corporations (imagine battle of the silicon valley giants: Facebook vs. Google vs. Apple vs. HP). Wouldn’t that be something?

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