Sports by nature are big-footed when it comes to ecological footprint. At the same time, sports are extremely influential. So if we want the society to ‘green up,’ a good start would be greening up the sports teams. As Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council and co-founder of the Green Sports Alliance points out: "Thirteen percent of Americans follow science. Sixty-one percent of Americans follow sports. If you want to change the world, you have to go where the people are."
Many sports teams and leagues in the USA have already made caring for environment their priority.
Here’s a brief on the efforts made by the top three of such nature-lovers:
National Hockey League (NHL)
Large energy usage is inherent in ice hockey leagues. But NHL has made efforts to change that and has been dedicated to their Going Green initiative for years now. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned their commitment to the issue,"Our sport was born on frozen ponds and relies on winter weather. Everyone who loves our game will benefit by taking an active role in preserving the environment and the roots of the game."
NHL Green was launched as a result of support from the entire hockey community, including the officials, players, fans and supporter. NHL Green is aimed at reducing use of natural resources in its operations, track and measure environmental impact of the sport and to inspire fans as well to commit to environmental issues. The league published a sustainability report last year, first document of this kind by a major sports league in the US. NHL is also enthusiastic for reducing food wastage.
Their various food recovery programs recover leftover concession food after games, feed them to the needy and thus reduce almost 100 tons of waste from their venues.
Over the years, NHL has been able to make quite a difference as well. Scarborough Research 2011 showed that NHL fans are 11 times more likely to recycle and 19 times more likely to donate to environmental causes than the average US adult.
Philadelphia Eagles have been committed to their Go Green program to reduce their environmental impact since 2003. The program started with providing employees a blue paper recycling bin under their desks. Over the years, the program has come to include almost everything that’s friendly to the environment like green energy production and procurement, energy conservation, recycling and composting and what not.
Home of the Eagles is the Lincoln Financial Field which is the first professional stadium in the US to be self-sufficient in terms of electricity. It generates all of its electricity onsite. The stadium is decked with solar panels and 14 wind turbines. The project saves millions in energy costs each year. The stadium is also a zero waste facility as they recycle 99.8% of their waste.
Next on Eagles Go Green agenda is rainwater harvesting and implementing corn-based food and drinks containers in the stadium.
NASCAR is a huge consumer of fossil fuels - it is just gas guzzlers driving in high speed for hours. Environmentally, it is no good. However the efforts made by NASCAR to do their part for the environment are worth noticing.
NASCAR’s Green program is just five-year-old but has achieved a lot in this short amount of time. It has quickly become one of the leader in green initiatives across all sports by a number of stern measures. NASCAR’s Pocono Raceway is the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility. The organization is also dedicated towards tree plantation. At Pocono the tree plantation program captures 100% of the emissions from on-track racing.
NASCAR’s recycling and environmental sustainability program is also overwhelming - the amount of oil that it recycles can oil the Empire State building for an entire year. Apart from oil, the organization recycles bottles and cans, race tires, florescent lights ad bulbs and metal shavings as well.