All kinds of sports teams and venues are looking at more environmentally-friendly business practices. Lester Graham talked with Eben Burnham-Snyder who’s with the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council about the new green trend in sports:
All kinds of sports teams and venues are looking at more environmentally-friendly business practices. Lester Graham talked with Eben
Burnham-Snyder who’s with the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council about the new green trend in sports:
EB: Well, I think for a lot of these sports teams, it’s come down to just
good business practices. You know, a good examples is when we approach
the Phildelphia Eagles in 2004 and said, ‘Hey guys, you’re getting a
lot of your paper from a forest that is a main habitat for the American
eagle. That started a dialogue.
They’re now buying 25% of their electricity from renewable sources,
they’re using recycled paper, and they’re even recycling cooking fat
from the chicken tenders and fries during the game day to run the
stadium’s vehicles on bio-fuels. So, there’s an understanding that you
can still have a good, robust business, a good robust sports business,
and do good for the environment at the same time.”
LG: So how are the big greens, the big environmental groups such as the
Natural Resource Defense Council, working with the sports industry?
EB: Well, we’ve been working a lot recently with major league baseball and
the National Basketball Association. It’s something you’re going to
hear a lot about over the next couple months. We try to work with teams
to try and find out what are some of the best practices they’ve been
using already, with recycling and energy efficiency, and we’re trying
to help all of these sports teams understand… here are the different
steps that you can take to both lessen your environmental footprint and
I think for fans ultimately, that’s a chance for them to yet again
pressure their teams and take that money that they’ve saved and put it
maybe into some free agents.
LG: You know, it seems with teams jetting back and forth across the
nation for games and burning a lot of fuel, we see these huge parking
lots of concrete or asphalt that are sometimes only used once a week
for a season. We’ve got some older stadiums, such as Wrigley Field in
Chicago, using restroom facilities that are basically troughs with
constantly running water, and NASCAR burning lots of fuel, even if it’s
using bio-fuels, it seems there’s little actually being done to make a
real difference for the environment. So how is this movement in sports
anything more than just tinkering around the edges?
EB: Well, you know, listen, there’s only so much that they can do within the current
But when you have industries, like the ski industry, going 100%
renewable at mountains, when you have places like the Philadelphia
Eagles and their field buying 25% of their energy from renewable
sources, those are actually large steps for industries to be taking,
especially when they’re really aren’t any standards for them right now.
They’re really isn’t any program out there right now to guide them.
So, this is a case where business is really trying to lead government
and let them know that we can do this but we need your help, too. We
need you to set limits on pollution to make it easier for us.
LG: Course there’s an incredible fan base for sports of all kinds and
we’re starting to see some attention drawn to these environmental
issues. For example,Sports Illustrated‘s cover is talking about
global warming, we’re hearing teams talk about this. What will this do
for awareness for the typical sports fan?
EB: Well, I think, as with a lot of the coverage we’ve seen on global
warming over the past couple years, it’s an indication that something
that a lot of people have had sort of a common sense reaction to for
the past few years.
For example, this past winter was the warmest winter ever on record.
People are coming to the realization that things are changing. But
sometimes it’s hard to connect those dots and so when you have
something like Sports Illustrated putting global warming on the
cover, what that does is it helps people who already said, you know
what, I haven’t been able to play pond hockey for the past couple of
years with any sort of consistency. I haven’t been able to go skiing.
You know, there are things that seem to be changing, what’s up?
And then they make that connection. And you know, the more evidence,
the more knowledge that comes out about global warming, I think the
more people you’ll see make those connections in their daily lives and
how global warming and other environmental challenges we face really do
Eben Burnahm-Snyder is with the Natural Resources Defense Council. He spoke with the Environment Report’s Lester Graham.