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‘Eco-friendly’ Sports: An Oxymoron or a Reality?


tmp_22891-Screenshot_2015-05-14-15-36-51-1-1722080062‘Eco-friendly’ is seldom associated with sport. Many people are oblivious of the resources involved in establishing and maintaining sports facilities.

Sports fields require vast amounts of water, fertiliser, time, money and energy (directly through powering maintenance equipment and buildings, and indirectly through water supplies and fertiliser). Let’s not mention the vast distances travelled by spectators and participants, in addtion to managing waste and recycling at sports venues.

Let’s divide sport into two broad categories: water and land-based. With water sports, surfers are often the most conscious about their’s sports eco-footprint; riding the waves with many who inhabit the oceans. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are jetski or speedboat enthusiasts. It is unlikely they would prioritise their water craft’s environmental impact over its performance.

As land-based sports are (usually) more visible and accessible to people than their water counterparts, this often leads to greater impacts on the natural environment. Other than the aforementioned concerns about the burden of resources on the natural environment,  there has been (and continues to be) disquiet generated about the labour conditions of sports garments and equipment.

There are exceptions across the spectrum, of course. More companies are taking initiative to supply certified eco-friendly and Fairtrade® products emerging on the market. Organisations, such as The Green Sports Alliance, have created a foundation for sustainability in sport. The GSA’s mission includes “…inspiring sports leagues, teams, venues, their partners and millions of fans to embrace renewable energy, healthy food, recycling, water efficiency, species preservation, safer chemicals and other environmentally preferable practices.” At present, the GSA focuses on North America. Despite, their initiaive sets a solid precedent for sports organisations across the globe.


We all need to initiate conversations about how we could make our sports more eco-friendly, and subsequently take action.This begins with team mates and spectators, all the way through to a club’s board directors. Most importantly, if we want everyone on board, any old conversation won’t cut it. Rather, we need to have tailored discussions based on an individual (or group’s) interests. For example, green thumbs might be interested in harvesting rainwater or growing food for the club’s canteen, whereas tech-savvy people might prefer installing rooftop solar PV or thermal.

Whilst there are many environmentalists who don’t enjoy sports, and various sports-fans that are not eco-minded, there are many that, one day, would like to reconcile the two. Ultimately, we are all in this together. Every facet of our society needs to be more eco-friendly. So let’s raise a glass to celebrate any small triumphs that are achieved.

Things to consider when greening your club:

1. Begin locally: Consider/ investigate how your local club can reduce their environmental footprint.
2. Seek case studies that support your club’s activities.
3. Prepare a cost-benefit analysis for your club. It might be worth seeking a more economics-minded person to prepare this.
4. Ensure that any new buildings or renovations comply with government regulations.
5. Set tangible and suitable goals

Some useful actions to make clubs more green:

1. Opt for rooftop solar
2. Harvest rainwater
3. Improve recycling rates
4. Grow food locally
5. Install water refill stations
6. Organise a tree-planting session (with subsequent maintenance work)
7. Utilise used and/or recycled products when constructing and/or supplying new furniture.
8. Raise awareness about environmental issues in our society
9. Empower people to incorporate solutions into their daily activites
10. Raise funds for these programs via fundraising, preferably in an eco-conscious manner.

11. Promote public transportation to and from venues. Incorporate public transport into the sports ticket.

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