by Benjamin Hastings
On August 26-28 2013, sustainability leaders representing 50+ companies active in the sports industry gathered together in Brooklyn, New York, for the Green Sports Alliance Summit. Founded in February 2010, the Green Sports Alliance is a non-profit organization that brings together different levels of sports teams, venue representatives and sustainability experts.
There were a wide range of attendees -- from governmental agencies and environmental organizations such as EPA and NRDC to product companies such as Liberty Bottleworks and Electronic Recyclers International. Not to mention the incredible lineup of featured speakers including, Andrew Ference of the Edmonton Oilers; Bob Nutting Chairman of the Board for the Pittsburgh Pirates; and Andrew Winston, founder of Winston Eco Strategies, just to name a few.
As a recent graduate, attending a conference with hundreds of professionals who have been successful in the sustainability field - one that I myself are trying to break into - was pretty overwhelming at first. That quickly changed as I started to converse with a multitude of representatives from a lot of different companies. Everyone was eager to share their stories about how they came to be in the sustainability world, and how it relates to sports.
I learned about a wide range of projects related to the sports world, including the revamping of arenas into LEED certified buildings, recycling programs at stadiums, and the inclusion of compostable utensils and containers to organization’s food programs. In fact, the competition between teams has moved from on the field, to off the field initiatives -- including who is recycling the most or who is saving the most energy. I would have to say that this kind of rivalry has the potential to benefit everyone!
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to spend a couple days at The Green Sports Alliance Summit, and to learn a lot about some initiatives business and sports teams are doing to reduce their impact on the environment. Before attending this event, I had no idea how the sports world and the sustainability industry were intertwined, even as an avid sports fan. It was really amazing to see how the greening of sports is beginning to take over nationwide, and I hope to see more sports organizations tap the wisdom of the sustainable businesses I met at the conference into their practices in the future!