We often equate sports with fitness, but when it comes to sports we rarely equate them with the fitness of our planet. Just like children’s toys, plastic water bottles, and other products, the consumer and entertainment sports (and fitness) industry impacts our landfills and our environment. From tangibles like bats, balls, clubs, and pucks to the greenhouse emissions pumped out at every arena; to the toxic greens of golf courses; our love of competition is choking the air we breathe and contaminating the water we drink.
Earth: Taking it for the Team
In Detroit, the 2006 Super Bowl alone produced more than 500 tons of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas). That was just in the air; pollution caused from transportation and utilities and does not include product waste, trash, or more. How many major sporting events (or shows, or concerts, etc.) are put on each year all over the world?
Did you buy someone a baseball bat last year? Louisville Slugger alone makes 1.8 million bats per year. That’s a whole lot of baseball bats and that annual number only reflects a single company’s production. What happens to all of these bats when people are done with them?
Big problems Small Answers
The problem is huge and it is not going un-addressed. Starting in 1994, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) introduced a Sports and Environment Program, whose job has been to promote environmental awareness through sports including the design of sustainable sports facilities and equipment. There are many other organizations taking part in making sustainability in the sports world possible and there are many ways you can contribute starting at home and in your own communities.
Get on-line and do some research. From ecological recovery efforts to recycling efforts, see what organizations are available locally and which ones you will have to deal with nationally to do your part.
If you (or your children) are involved with a local sports team, discuss ways your team(s) can help lessen the negative impact of your sport on the environment. Can you use refurbished or recycled equipment? Are you getting new equipment and willing to donate the used equipment to teams or other people that will use it?
Get other teams together and discuss with sporting facilities ways in which they too can help the Eco-friendly efforts, including organizing after-event clean-up parties.
Reduce, Reuse, Re-bounce? Yes!
In America, each person creates about 1,700 pounds of trash each year. A lot of this “garbage” includes used sporting equipment and the truth is, there are things we can do to extend the life of a lot of it. Did you know that you can get tennis balls “re-bounced’ instead of throwing them out and buying new ones? It’s true! And, the life of some sporting equipment, like certified bbcor baseball bats, can be dependent on weather temperatures.
It may sound like an oversimplification, but if we become more aware and take better care of ‘our things’ we can extend their lives. And if we research and give more thought to reusing ‘our things’ we can help extend the life of our planet as well.