GSB News and Notes: 3 Innovative Companies Become Green-Sports All Stars

One of my favorite parts of any Green Sports Alliance Summit—I’ve attended four—is to walk the exhibit floors to see the start-ups, post start-ups and growth companies that are helping to build the Green Sports movement. A month ago in Houston, finding innovative companies whose stories were worth telling was easy; the challenge was choosing only three to highlight. The chosen three are PathoSans, an environmentally-responsible cleaning product that is produced on-site (i.e. at arenas, stadiums), Recover Brands, an apparel company that aspires to produce the most environmentally friendly and socially responsible products possible, and TREDAGAIN, the first upcycled tire shoe.

 

PATHOSANS

“If I was playing in the NBA today, I would go to my team management and demand that our arena be cleaned by PathoSans! I need to be protected in the locker room from bacteria and other disease agents. And the team should do it as they have huge sums of money invested in the players. It’s cleaner, safer and less expensive.”

So said NBA Hall of Famer and PathoSans spokesperson Rick Barry at the PathoSans booth in Houston.

I was intrigued. OK, I got the notion that locker rooms (and, as Barry enthusiastically pointed out, “every building of any type!”) harbor germs, bacteria, mold and viruses. I also know there are environmentally friendly cleaning products out there. The question I wanted to have answered was: What is the PathoSans “special sauce”? Is there a special sauce?

Richard Kampas, a distributor for PathoSans (and other “green cleaning” products), based in Syracuse, NY, who manned the booth with Barry, took that on.

PathoSans

Rick Barry (l), PathoSans spokesperson, and Richard Kampas, PathoSans distributor. (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)

 

“PathoSans is the greenest cleaning product I’ve ever come across, as well as the most effective,” said Kampas, “It is easily made and mixed on-site, which dramatically lowers its carbon footprint as the transportation goes close to zero and, since it uses a refillable dispenser, there’s no container disposal. These savings are passed on to the customer so it’s also low cost, with savings as much as 90% vs. the competition—most green cleaning products cost $4/gallon while PathoSans costs 30¢/gallon.”

According to Barry, the sporting venues that have switched to PathoSans are now PathoSans evangelists: “The Facilities Manager at the Yum Center [home of University of Louisville basketball] told me that ‘in 20 years in the business, I’ve never seen a better product.’ We got a similar reaction from his counterpart at the Consol Center in Pittsburgh [home of the 2016 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins].”

Despite having a product with what seems like several significant competitive advantages, Barry seemed antsy.

Why?

Because the conversion rate by arenas, stadiums and other public buildings isn’t going fast enough to suit him or Kampas. More Rick Barry: “Look, the facilities industry is 80% reactive/20% proactive. Meaning they react to a disaster like MRSA or E Coli. Then they’ll consider switching. Well we need to change that to 50-50. And the way we do that is education, education, education. And that’s why we’re here at the GSA, to educate teams and venues to the opportunity to improve their bottom line, their environmental friendliness and, perhaps their team. Because study after study shows a healthy environment leads to better performance.”

And the final word goes to Rick Kampas: “I’ve been a distributor in upstate New York in the green cleaning space for the last 10 years. PathoSans is such a breakthrough product on performance and on carbon footprint that I’m focusing all of my attention on it.

 

RECOVER BRANDS

Statistics are the lifeblood of many sports fans, especially in this Fantasy Sports era. So here are some interesting numbers provided me by Bill Johnston, President and Co-Founder of Recover Sustainable Apparel and Ron Hawk, National Accounts Director for Drive, the exclusive distributor for Recover:

  • 100%: All Recover Brand apparel is made from 100% recycled materials.
  • 95%: The percentage of Recover Brands business that is B-to-B. Non-sports corporate partners include Sierra Nevada and National Geographic.
  • 8: The number of plastic (PET) bottles in every Recover Brand shirt.
  • 9X: The amount of water the Recover Brand manufacturing process saves vs. conventionally dyed shirts.
  • 50%: Year-over-year growth rate for the six-year old Charlotte, NC based company.
  • 1: The company’s lone retail store is in Charlotte.

The best selling items are 50% recycled PET, 50% recycled cotton scrap. “That combination makes the product unique in terms of color and softness.” Recover Brands also sells a 100% recycled PET line that, at the end of life, can easily be put back into the supply chain or be upcycled into something else.

Recover NBA Green

Recover Brand NBA Green t-shirt to celebrate NBA Green Week. (Photo credit: Julia Steele)

 

Sports, says Johnston, represents “10-15% of total sales and we’re looking to grow that number dramatically. Our first big sports involvement was a New York Yankees promotional item we made on behalf of Yankees sponsor BASF.” Added Hawk, “This is only our second year at the GSA Summit and we expect the connections we make here to help us build our sports business for our t-shirts, hoodies, and polos.”

Recover

Ron Hawk of Drive (l) and Bill Johnston (r) of Recover Brands at the Green Sports Alliance in Houston (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)

 

 

TREDAGAIN

165 miles due west of Houston sits the capital, not only of Texas, but of Green Texas. That would be Austin, home of a burgeoning green startup culture. An example of that culture was on display at the GSA with TREDAGAIN, a startup born at Earth Day Texas 2015 that upcycles tire rubber into shoes.

As TREDAGAIN Head of Operations Ilya Kuperman tells it, “TREDAGAIN’s mission is to leave a better footprint than when we started. We do this by upcycling tires in a unique chemical process that was developed to create APX, a new rubber compound by sister company Austin Rubber. Basically the process ‘unbakes’ the tire rubber into a reusable virgin rubber substitute, which then can be ‘re-baked’ into a molded rubber product like shoe outsoles.”

TredAgain

Ilya Kuperman (l), Head of Operations, and Sam Drew, Logistical and Customer Success Coordinator for TredAgain. (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)

 

The first TREDAGAIN product is a flip flop line; urban rain boots will launch this fall. TREDAGAIN has moved all manufacturing to the Americas and is looking to have products Made in the USA soon. Rapid growth is expected, said Kuperman, as 2017 will see “the launch of 15+ womens shoe styles and 10 mens styles.” That growth is incubated by Green Source Holdings is an Austin based company that builds and invests in sustainable businesses and technologies.

Tred Again Red Sandal - downtown austin

TREDAGAIN’s flip flop, made from upcycled tires, with hometown Austin, TX skyline in the background. (Photo credit: TREDAGAIN)

 

The motor sports world is a ready supplier of TREDAGAIN raw materials: tire rubber. “We know there are great partnership opportunities with NASCAR, Formula 1, and Moto GP. And, it’s clear through their research that many motor sports fans are interested in green products.”

 

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Sustainability Thought Leaders on Green-Sports, Part 2: Jerry Taylor, Libertarian Lobbyist who Switched from Climate Change Denier to Fighter

We have conducted a ton of interviews over the 3+ years of GreenSportsBlog’s existence with leading lights from across the Green-Sports spectrum. Thing is, the Green-Sports niche, while growing is still in its infancy, is still very small. How much does the niche have to grow until it reaches critical mass? What will sports look like once that’s achieved? What are the key challenges the sports green movement has to overcome? To get some answers, GreenSportsBlog is going outside of the Green-Sports world to take a look inward. We are talking, in an occasional series that will run over the course of several months, with leaders from various corners of the sustainability world with little or no connection to the sports world to get their takes on the sports-greening movement. I hope some valuable insights will result. Our first interview in the series was with Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group.

For the second installment, I am excited to bring you our conversation with Jerry Taylor, President of the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank in Washington, DC. What could Taylor’s story possibly have to do with Green-Sports? Well, we talked about the tribal nature of sports and politics–i.e. how being a Steelers fan or a climate change denying libertarian is deeply engrained in us and how difficult it is to switch tribes (Become a Ravens fan? A climate change fighter? No way!) Jerry Taylor made that switch. Here’s his story, as well as his thoughts on the green-sports movement.

 

GreenSportsBlog: Jerry, your professional life story—going from being a lobbyist at the Cato Institute, one of the leading libertarian think tanks, where climate change denial was largely the rule, to the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank where fighting climate change is core to its DNA—is fascinating in so many ways. But, first, some back story: How did you get to the world of think tanks?

Jerry Taylor: Well, I grew up in Iowa, went to the University of Iowa…

GSB: An Iowa Hawkeye

JT: Indeed. Didn’t graduate. Instead, I came to Washington, DC in the mid 1980s as a young republican with some campaign experience with the idea of becoming a Karl Rove-type operator. Alas, those jobs were harder to come by than I had thought, so I took a position at the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC

JerryTaylor

Jerry Taylor, President of the Niskanen Center. (Photo credit: Niskanen Center)

 

GSB: Oh, wow—the trade group that is like Darth Vadar to climate change fighters?

JT: Yes, that would be ALEC. One of the group’s founding members was Terry Brandstad, an Iowan, and I had worked on his first gubernatorial campaign back in 1982. My first position there was as an intern in their energy and environmental arena. I worked on recycling, waste, climate change, and a host of other things. Soon enough I was Staff Director.

GSB: This is not the backstory of the typical GreenSportsBlog interviewee, I gotta tell ya…

JT: …In any event, over time I evolved from a standard republican conservative to a libertarian—I found that I didn’t like politicians much nor did I care for DC nor government. So I moved over to the Cato Institute

GSB:…Which is like the Harvard of libertarian think tanks…

JT: Exactly. So this was 1991. Again I worked on energy and environment.

GSB: What about climate change?

JT: It was just starting to emerge as a major issue at that time. 1988 was a key date, when Dr. James Hansen, then of NASA, testified before Congress about climate change and its perils. But Cato was firmly in the denial-skeptic camp and I was right there with them as Policy Director. Eventually I moved up to be a VP there and then left in 2014 to start the Niskanen Center.

NiskanenLogo

 

GSB: Why did you leave Cato?

JT: Over time the environment felt uncomfortable for me at Cato. You see, I was hired as a climate skeptic but, as I kept reading and listening and learning about climate change, my views on climate change evolved to where I saw it as a) real, and b) a serious problem that needed to be dealt with seriously. Those views didn’t fit at Cato. So that was a contributing factor for why I left.

GSB: So you were changing tribes, changing teams. I imagine that was really hard to do—I wrote a post not long ago about my own moral quandary: What does a climate change-fighting, bleeding green and white New York Jets fan do when he finds out team owner Woody Johnson is a fundraiser for climate change denier Donald Trump? Become a (gag!) Giants or Patriots fan? NO WAY! I couldn’t switch tribes—I just could not do it, despite almost five decades of mostly awful Jets football since Super Bowl III. So I wrote an open letter to Mr. Johnson, offering to give him a presentation on climate change. So far I haven’t heard from him. So I couldn’t switch. You did. How did you do it?

JT: Well, first of all, I’m a Redskins-Capitals-Nats fan, so I feel your pain. Seriously, “changing tribes” from climate change skeptic to actively supporting climate change action is very difficult to do; very few people in Washington make this kind of change. Forget the science for a second. Our social identities are made up of like folks—and that trend is only increasing. I mean, if you’re in politics, going from something like pro life to pro choice, what do you gain? Or imagine you are a free market economist who nonetheless believes some of the things economist Thomas Picketty^ has to say have some validity? Being right and changing allegiances because of it has serious costs. Friendships and relationships are often lost. It’s much easier to stay with your team, your tribe. And I get that. I’m not always leaving my tribe. I mean, I’m a Caps fan and so I’ll defend Alex Ovechkin no matter how many early round Stanley Cup exits the team suffers.

GSB: I get that about Ovechkin but how did the switch from skeptic to adherent impact your own career, your own life?

JT: Some of my friends and acquaintances dropped me. But I made new friends along the way, and so it goes. And then there are people who—best way to say it is it’s not unlike living in the Soviet Union—a lot of people publicly echo the party line but privately think different.

GSB: You have more courage than I. I just stayed a Jets fan. Let’s turn from switching teams to sports more broadly. What do you think of sports as a platform for environmentalism and the climate change fight? Do you think it can have a significant impact?

JT: I think sports represents our society more than drives it so I don’t see sports driving momentum on climate change. I can see sports as being a forum for athletes and sponsors to communicate environmental messaging. So much of America is reflected by sports. There’s a reason why, going back a hundred years until now, intellectuals become sports writers. As the climate change issue grows in importance, so too will it grow in sports. Sports, at its best and also at its worst, amplifies what is happening in society.

GSB: I have strong hopes that, on climate, sports will amplify the best. One final question, this one not to do with sports: So as a libertarian who sees climate change as a serious global challenge, what do you think will happen, policy-wise in the US, and what do you want to happen?

JT: The US is moving to more carbon restraints and is transitioning to renewables. This is happening but needs to happen much more quickly. Not surprisingly, I favor market-based carbon pricing schemes and this seems to be gaining traction in both parties. I’d say the window to get a real carbon pricing solution is about four years. Otherwise, because the science and the consequences of climate change won’t wait, the policy prescriptions will shift to more government mandates like the “keep it in the ground” campaign.

GSB: Not the ideal libertarian solution…

JT:…But it’s better than nothing. If first-best solutions are unavailable, then we have to look at second-best solutions.

 

^ Picketty argues that, due to income inequality, redistribution through a progressive global tax on wealth, is a sound policy prescription.
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GSB News and Notes: Bicycle for an Hour, Power Home for a Day; Canadian Open Goes Green; Land Rover BAR’s BREEAM Excellent HQ

Ready for the weekend? Well, if you ride a bike for an hour, there’s now a way to power a home for a day. Seriously. The Canadian (golf) Open, now underway, pushes the green golf envelope. And 2017 America’s Cup challenger Land Rover BAR continues its stellar green-sports performance with the announcement that its state-of-the-art home base in Portsmouth, England received BREEAM Excellent (equivalent of LEED Gold or Platinum) Status. As you pack for the beach, make sure to bookmark and read your TGIF edition of GreenSportsBlog News & Notes.

 

RIDE A BIKE FOR AN HOUR, POWER A RURAL HOME FOR A DAY

Readers of GreenSportsBlog may remember our March 2016 story about the Bike Washing Machine–a stationary bike in the concept phase that will wash clothes through pedal power. That was cool.

Well, as cool as the Bike Washing Machine is, a bike that can power a home for 24 hours with only 1 hour of pedaling is even cooler.

Meet the Free Electric Hybrid bike, the brainchild of Manoj Bhargava, founder of the company that makes the popular energy-boosting supplement 5-hour Energy. Bhargava is committed to devoting much of his $4 billion net worth towards tackling some of the pressing issues of our time. So he launched and is funding Billions in Change. Its mission is to “save the world by creating and implementing solutions to the most basic global problems – water, energy and health. Doing so will raise billions of people out of poverty and improve the lives of everyone – rich and poor.”

The Free Electric Hybrid is one of the first projects coming to fruition from Billions in Change. Described as “small, light, and simple,” it is said to be able to supply a rural household’s electricity needs for 24 hours with a single hour of pedaling. Here’s how it works: A cyclist pedals the bike, which drives a flywheel, which then turns a generator and charges a battery, and, voilà, electricity. 

 

Manoj Bhargava NatGeo

Manoj Bhargava pedals his Free Electric Hybrid bicycle. One hour of pedaling is said to be able to power a rural home for 24 hours. (Photo credit: National Geographic)

 

While details on the manufacture and launch of the Free Electric Hybrid are not yet available, Bhargava plans to distribute 10,000 bicycles in a pilot program in India in 2016-2017, according to National Geographic.

 

CANADIAN OPEN GOLF GOES GREEN

Canada is on a roll, green-wise. After almost a decade long prime ministership of fossil fuel industry-friendly and climate change skeptic Stephen Harper, the country pivoted last November, electing Justin Trudeau, who earlier this week committed to push for carbon pricing legislation. Alberta, known as the Texas of Canada as it is home to oil-rich tar sands, already has its own carbon tax. In sports, the Edmonton Oilers are about to move into Rogers Place, the NHL’s first LEED certified arena. And this weekend’s RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario outside of Toronto will be, according to the organizers, the “the most sustainable Canadian Open to date.”

Key environmentally-friendly highlights include:

  • Power from 100 per cent renewable and green natural gas sources. Bullfrog Power^, a leader in clean power in Canada is supplying energy from a blend of wind and low-impact hydro. But what is “green natural gas,” you ask? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Not in this case: Bullfrog’s natural gas can be called “green” because is sourced from a ground-breaking methane-capture project in Quebec.
  • Carbon offsets: Title sponsor RBC is getting into the green act by offsetting the emissions associated with the use of diesel generators and event vehicles. 
  • Significant waste reduction: The tournament is not claiming Zero-Waste status, a la the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It is, however, taking significant steps to divert waste from the landfill, from the many well-marked recycling and compost bins to water filling stations to the donation of unused food to a local food bank.

Glen Abbey

Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, ON; site of the 2016 RBC Royal Canadian Open. (Photo credit: Glen Abbey Golf Club)

 

The course itself is its own green highlight: Since 2004, Glen Abbey has been certified as a sustainable golf course by Audubon International. Only five per cent of Canadian golf courses can say that. 

 

LAND ROVER BAR’S BREEAM EXCELLENT HOME BASE

GreenSportsBlog fave Land Rover BAR makes yet another appearance, and for a great reason.

The UK’s challenger for the 2017 America’s Cup is now believed to be the first professional sports team in Great Britain to operate from a BREEAM# Excellent building. The team’s spectacular new 74,000 sq. ft home received the accolade just this week.

Opened in June 2015, the building is an homage to sustainable design in action:

  • Renewable Energy Partner Low Carbon installed 432 solar panels, covering 100% of available roof space. The panels generate 20% of the building’s electricity; the remaining 80% is supplied from off-site renewable sources.
  • The central atrium features a natural ventilation system; thus there’s no need for a mechanical ventilation system.
  • All offices have direct access to natural daylight courtesy of the building’s transparent roof, reducing demand for interior artificial light.
  • Oysters were saved from a nearby dredge site and relocated to protected oyster beds hosted on the team’s pontoon developed in partnership with MDL Marinas. This is helping to restart a viable population of oysters in the area.

LR BAR HQ

The transparent roof lights the buildings’ atrium, providing natural light on every floor. (Photo credit: Harry KH/Land Rover BAR)

 

We’ll wrap up this post with a quote from Phil Ward, of the environmental consulting firm Couch Perry Wilkes, about what else: The Wrap, the building’s iconic symbol: “A gigantic fabric wrap has been applied to much of the building façade. Its translucency will still admit natural light to the interior, while reducing solar glare. It provides a layer of insulation, protecting the building fabric and retaining heat in winter like a coat.”

LR BAR Wrap

Aerial view of the Land Rover BAR home base, with “The Wrap” covering the lower left portion of the building. (Photo credit: Shaun Roster)
^ Bullfrog Power: What a great brand name!
# Think of BREEAM Excellent as the British equivalent of LEED Platinum or at least LEED Gold.

 

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The GSB Interview: Nick Mallos, Ocean Conservancy; Helping Sailing Teams Bring Attention to Plastic Ocean Waste Crisis

The Ocean Conservancy is a 44-year old non-profit that creates science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. Plastic ocean waste, a serious, festering yet underreported environmental problem that affects the public and economic health of millions around the world, is one of the issues the organization is tackling. GreenSportsBlog spoke with Nick Mallos, the Ocean Conservancy’s Director of Trash Free Seas, about, among other things, how his team is working with the sailing world to publicize the Plastic Ocean Waste issue.

 

GreenSportsBlog: Director of Trash Free Seas. That is one cool job title. How did you get to the Ocean Conservancy and the “Trash Man” moniker?

Nick Mallos: I’ve been working on trash in the ocean for the better part of a decade, with the last six years at Ocean Conservancy so “Trash Man” seems to fit perfectly. Before that, while at Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA), where I earned a BS in Biology and Marine Science, I spent a semester in the Caribbean to study lemon sharks. While on the Island of South Caicos, I saw that massive amounts of trash and plastics were washing ashore on its north side. This got me interested in marine debris and what was needed to do to remove it. Later, in 2007-2008, I was a teaching assistant in marine science on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, right around the time when a significant number of people started to be aware of the Pacific Gyre [a massive “garbage patch” in the Northern Pacific Ocean]. The one issue that resonated with students of all ages, all backgrounds, was that trash shouldn’t be in the ocean. Plastic ocean waste is, sadly, a powerful tool to get diverse audiences to care about an environmental issue.

nick_head

Nick Mallos, Director of Trash Free Seas at The Ocean Conservancy. (Photo credit: Nick Mallos)

 

GSB: Sad but true…

NM: Oh “sad” is just part of it. “Tragic” is an even better word. While I was doing my Masters at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, I traveled to the Midway Atoll in the Pacific to see the effect of plastics up close, on the pacific sea turtle, Laysan albatross, and Hawaiian monk seal.

GSB: I bet those effects are not good…

NM: You would cash that bet. The plastics come from just about everywhere in the Pacific…Southeast Asia, China, Korea, even Russia. The albatross eat the plastics mistaking them for fish eggs and then those plastics are fed to their chicks, which cannot regurgitate the material. Almost all of the juveniles on Midway Atoll have plastics in their stomachs.

Albatross

Nesting Laysan albatross on Midway Atoll. Albatross bring 4.5 tons of plastic onto the island each year in their stomachs. (Photo credit: Nick Mallos)

 

kamilo_plastics

One meter by one meter surface sample at Kamilo Point on the Big Island, Hawaii. More than 84,000 pieces of micro-plastic were counted. (Photo credit: Nick Mallos)

 

GSB: So working with the Ocean Conservancy, which, I imagine, helps to lessen the amount of plastics in chicks’ stomachs, sounds like a natural for you.

NM: No doubt about it. I have a great team of 5 working with me. Our longest-standing project is the International Coastal Cleanup, which goes back 31 years. It’s a global volunteer effort, with 150 countries participating. Since its inception, volunteers around the world have removed 220 million pounds of trash from waterways, beaches and the ocean.

GSB: Holy Cow! How many volunteers do you have?

NM: We have about 500,000 in a typical year; 2015 was anything but typical as we had 800,000 volunteers! We’ll find out on International Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 17 whether we can beat that number.

GSB: This must be a Herculean organizational effort.

NM: No doubt about it. Helping us is the CleanSwell app, which allows the volunteers to log the trash they collect and gives them the ability to connect with each other.

GSB: What happens with all that trash?

NM: We recycle it where possible; unfortunately some has to go to the landfill. We now have a working group on up-cycling the trash into something else. Norton Point is one such partner who is turning the plastic trash into sunglasses.

GSB: This is all phenomenal stuff. How does sports fit in with what the Ocean Conservancy is doing?

NM: A soccer player at Dickinson, I get that sports is a universal language. There’s no question that environmental messaging, if communicated powerfully through teams and leagues, will find a ready audience among fans, leading to changed behavior. So we’ve gotten involved with sailing through 11th Hour Racing, the organization devoted to promoting improved ocean health through the sport. 11th Hour sponsors 55 South, one of the sailing teams that competed in the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race.

GSB: Sailing around the world? These folks must get up close looks at ocean plastic waste.

NM: For sure. Teams like 55 South see and feel the impact of ocean debris on their races. This is our first engagement with the sailing community–we started last year with 11th Hour and 55 South. We helped the latter tell the story about the problem of ocean plastic waste and solutions to it at the Ocean Summit when the Volvo Ocean race stopped in Newport, RI last year.

GSB: Did the plastic ocean waste story get on the TV coverage of the Volvo Ocean Race?

NM: Not to our knowledge but we had great print media coverage. Getting this type of story on TV and other mass media would obviously be huge and we’re working towards that end for the next Volvo Ocean Race in 2017-2018.

GSB: Is Ocean Conservancy working with sports beyond sailing?

NM: Not yet but we can certainly envision working with the NFLs, MLBs and MLS’ of the world going forward. After all, most cities that host pro sports teams are on or close to a major body of water.

 

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GSB News and Notes: Wimbledon Serves Strawberries and Sustainability; Paris 2024 Olympic Bid Goes Green; Have a Beer, Save the World

With the 2016 Wimbledon in the rearview mirror (congratulations to champs Serena Williams and Andy Murray), it is a good time for GreenSportsBlog to take a look at the greenness of the only major tennis championship played on green (at least during the first week) grass. And, with the announcement of the 2024 summer Olympic bid city a year or so away, Paris, one of the leading contenders, launched an environmental committee. Finally, as we head into a steamy summer baseball weekend, what goes better with a ballgame than a beer?Well, what if you could, by drinking a beer at a ballgame, help save the world? Read on in your Summer Friday GSB News & Notes column. 

 

WIMBLEDON SERVES STRAWBERRIES AND SUSTAINABILITY

GreenSportsBlog has reported on the impressive greenness of the Australian Open, French Open and the US Open. But we have yet to write about Wimbledon’s sustainability serves and volleys. Until now.

One reason we haven’t covered the tournament thus far is that the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC)—manager of the Wimbledon championships—has taken a very low profile approach to sustainability, which seems in keeping with its somewhat understated if protocol-laden image.

Truth is, they do have a strong sustainability story to tell:

  • While all of the AELTC’s recyclable waste is sent to an energy efficient Material Recovery Facility near Heathrow airport, the big news is that all non-recyclable materials are processed at a nearby waste-to-energy facility. Thus an impressive 96% of Wimbledon’s waste by volume is kept out of the landfill, making it a Zero-Waste event (although they don’t tout this) (they should!) 
  • Water conservation rates are strong as well: 95% of all the water used for cleaning of all grounds equipment and vehicles is run through a water recycling plant.
  • Fossil fuel use is minimized and bio-fuels are increasingly used at the facility.

Wimbledon also has greened up its signature delicacy, Strawberries & Cream, at least on the strawberry side of the equation.  Picked the day before sale from local, certified growers, all strawberries travel less than 100 miles.

Strawberries

Locally picked strawberries, a facet of Wimbledon’s greening efforts, are ready to be paired with cream for the tournament’s signature delicacy. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

 

Sadly, the tennis balls themselves travel a lot further than the fruit. For over a century, the Slazenger tennis balls used at Wimbledon made a short journey from the company’s Barnsley factory to the grounds. Now, according to a 2013 analysis, the balls travel over 50,000 miles around the world before finally arriving from a factory in the Philippines .

PARIS 2024 OLYMPIC BID GOES GREEN

The bidding process for the 2024 Summer Olympics is in full swing, with the announcement of the host city taking place in Lima, Peru in September 2017. Four cities are in the running: Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome. Conventional wisdom has it that LA and Paris are the favorites. Budapest is a first-time candidate and they rarely win; support for the Rome bid is shaky at home. LA has several things going for it—the US has not hosted the Summer Olympics since 1996 (Atlanta), most facilities already exist as the city has hosted the Games twice before (1932, 1984), and it’s a media capital. Paris has bid twice recently, losing out to London (2012) and Rio, most facilities already exist, France successfully hosted EURO 2016, and, well, it’s Paris.

And, while all Olympic bids now feature robust sustainability plans, the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games Bid Committee has stepped its green game up a notch by launching an Environmental Excellence Committee (EEC) to deliver its commitments on sustainable development and green initiatives. Chaired by Isabelle Autissier, President of WWF France, the EEC is made up of 24 leaders from science, NGOs, sports, and business. 

Autissier

Isabelle Autissier, President of WWF France and Chairwoman of the newly-formed Environmental Excellence Committee of the Paris 2024 Olympic Bid Committee. (Photo credit: Isabelle Autissier)

Paris 2024 Co-Chairman and member of the IOC Sustainability and Legacy Committee, Tony Estanguet, said: “Sustainable development has been at the heart of our campaign since the very beginning. A major clean-up of the River Seine and plans for the proposed Olympic and Media Villages to be converted into a new ‘Eco City’ with 5,000 homes for local people after the Games are fine examples of our pioneering vision and our ambition to deliver sustainable legacy for all Parisians.”

In addition, the Paris 2024 bid is aiming for ISO 2012-1 certification for sustainable events, matching the standard set for European mega-events by London 2012 and UEFA Euro 2016. Funding for sustainable development projects will be provided by Groupe Caisse des Depots, an official Partner of Paris 2024. 

 

BREWTOLEUM: REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS, ONE BEER AT A TIME

GreenSportsBlog has worked, over the past three years, to urge sports (teams, leagues, and athletes) to engage and influence fans to take meaningful green actions. Thing is, this kind of messaging can be difficult to communicate (climate change is complicated, it can be a downer, it’s too political, blah, blah, blah). 

I and the rest of the green-sports world can learn something about climate change communications from New Zealand’s DB Export beer, which developed a brilliant promotional product, Brewtroleum. Its Auckland, NZ-based ad agency, Colenso BBDO, came up with this clever if understated slogan for an award-winning outdoor (billboard) advertising campaign: Drink DB Export. Save the Entire World.

Brewtoleum

The 45 second Brewtoleum TV/video ad takes the concept to the next level. You MUST watch it. Seriously it will put you in a great mood heading into the weekend as it goes head on at the climate change issue—with more than a dollop of cheeky New Zealand humor:

Brewtroleum is the world’s first commercially available biofuel made from the leftovers of brewing beer. The product was featured at Gull service stations, “the leaders in bio-fuel availability in New Zealand,” according to the DP Export blog. The product is currently unavailable (more is being “brewed”) but was a huge success from late 2015 through the first part of 2016.

Aside from this being a breakthrough ad campaign smack dab in the middle of a new, three-way intersection I’ve just discovered—Climate Change + Beer + Sports (these ads ran on televised sports events, after all), it is also a way to help reinvigorate a flat beer category.

“How can you make people drink more beer?…How do you give them a relevant excuse that’s good marketing to you, but is also good to your whole family, your whole ecosystem, your stakeholders? And how do you use media to do that?” asked Ricardo John, chief creative officer of J. Walter Thompson Brazil, in a story about the Cannes Lions Advertising Awards by Tim Nudd in the June 21st issue of Adweek. John answered his own question: “These guys [DB Export], this agency [Colenso BBDO], they managed to do this. They managed to claim that if you drink more beer, you’ll save the world. That’s the highest proposal that I’ve ever seen in my career in advertising. And it’s my favorite one, because I do love beer!” 

Anheuser-Busch InBev? SABMiller? Are you listening? It’s time brew a US version of Brewtoleum and to advertise it on sports on TV.

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The GSB Interview: Chris Yura, CEO and Founder, SustainU Clothing; Bringing Green-Sports Intersection to Appalachia

Appalachia# has, over many decades, suffered massive and debilitating economic decline due primarily to the loss of manufacturing jobs and experienced severe environmental degradation, largely from coal mining and “fracking” for natural gas. So it might surprise GSB readers that SustainU (“100% recycled and American-made clothing), a leading post startup at the intersection of Green + Sports, is sprouting up in Morgantown, WV. We chatted with Chris Yura, CEO and Founder of SustainU, about how is company came to be, its mission, and its involvement at tonight’s Major League Baseball All Star Game in San Diego.

 

GreenSportsBlog: SustainU’s website says the company is dedicated to “changing the way clothes are made to improve the environment [and] reinvigorate America’s manufacturing sector.” Nothing like having low expectations. Before we get the SustainU story and the role sports plays in it, let’s find out a bit about your incredible story, which started in Morgantown, home of the West Virginia University Mountaineers.

Chris Yura: Yes, I was brought up in Morgantown. My brother and I played football–he played at WVU and I was a 4-year letterman at Notre Dame; Class of 2003.

GSB: How cool was that?!?!

CY: Oh, it was an incredible experience. I was a safety, tailback and fullback. My second game, I played against Tom Brady (Michigan); my last game, I played against Phillip Rivers (NC State). A dislocated elbow made sure my career did not continue to the NFL. A sociology and computer applications major…

GSB: So, what did you do next?

CY: Not sure what exactly to do, I moved to New York City to be a Ford model, specifically a fit model.

GSB: Forgive my ignorance; what is a “fit model”?

CY: Apparel makers use fit models to make sure garments fit right for a certain size. Being a model, aside from allowing me to live in New York and abroad, allowed me to learn about the apparel business, about manufacturing. And, being from West Virginia I also became schooled about NAFTA and saw of its harmful effects. And I saw what anti-progressive policies had done to the environment, to the mountains in Appalachia. Gradually, I started to think about starting an apparel company that would be eco-friendly and sustainable. I mean, wouldn’t it be cool if a shirt stood for the ethics and the tradition of where it was made, and if the people wearing the shirt were wearing their values on their back?

chris_yura pic american recycled (1)

Chris Yura, founder and CEO of Sustain U. (Photo credit: Sustain U)

 

GSB: Cool, indeed! How did the ethos of sports fit in to your early imaginings of the company?

CY: Sports is such a unifying force–it gets people to buy into something bigger than themselves; a higher ethical consciousness. So yes, sports has been integral to the idea of Sustain U since the very beginning.

GSB: So how did you go from being a Ford model to starting Sustain U?

CY: So back in 2006-2007 I decided I had to learn how to make clothing, knit and more. I had to learn what sustainable or green clothing meant. So I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) library in New York (not as a student). I made contacts with factories; apprenticed at a facility in North Carolina near Charlotte.

GSB: And then the economy crashed?

CY: Exactly. The crash happened. But I thought: This can’t wait; it’s time to jump in the pool. I talked with my folks–they were supportive of me moving back in with them–and we launched Sustain U in 2009. Bringing jobs something green back to Appalachia was always at the forefront of the brand’s DNA. So we started making products from 50% recycled cotton and 50% recycled rPET: Recycled polyester and plastic bottles

GSB: Who were your first customers?

CY: Actually we started with music, making tees for D’Addario guitar strings, Evans Drumheads and then moved on to making shirts for large concert promoters like C3 Presents.

GSB: When did sports come in to the mix?

CY: Not long after music. We handled the t-shirts for the very green America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013. But we really started in sports in 2011 we started to get some collegiate athletics department licensing rights by private labeling (we make the goods for a different label), including Notre Dame, Georgia, Oregon, Clemson and Michigan State, among 15 or so others. The volumes have been strong. We did 12,000 units for the 2014 National Championship football game.

GSB: College sports make so much sense to me…They have sustainability departments, idealistic and passionate students…

CY: No doubt about it. Music and especially college sports helped us scale through private labeling. We proved our sustainable clothing niche was viable and started to build our own brand, moving away from private labeling.

GSB: What about pro sports?

CY: We were ecstatic to start with a license to make 100% recycled t-shirts for all 30 Major League Baseball teams as of Opening Day this season and will be launching something similar with the NBA soon. Aside from being key customers that will allow us to scale even faster, we also have a unique brand positioning: We are the only company selling pro sports licensed 100% recycled t-shirts at retail, with our own brand.

GSB: I would imagine the MLB relationship helps the Sustain U brand gain awareness and positive imagery.

CY: No doubt about it. Millennials want what we’re selling and they are a crucial target audience for MLB. MLB, the NBA and other leagues love Sustain U—it’s a pure sustainability play for them.

GSB: With the MLB and NBA deals, Sustain U must be in a steep growth phase.

CY: We’ve been very fortunate, we’ve been growing at 30% per year over the last couple of years but expect 200% growth this year with the MLB and NBA deals.

GSB: Congratulations! How big is the company?

CY: We have 24 employees in our Morgantown headquarters, and, through contractors, we support about 300 more people in North and South Carolina. Sustain U is looking to lead the sustainable apparel movement and want to lead it for years to come. One way we will do this is by our design, which matches the younger consumers’ lifestyles…We feature wood grain designs as well as looks with musical and/or technological influences. Product-wise, we’re focused on what we do best: knits–t-shirts, also fleece, and pullovers. But we’ve got many new items in the planning phase so we can expand the offerings of recycled apparel.

GSB: Sounds to me like the future for SustainU is bright indeed—you guys are like the Underarmour of sustainable apparel. But let’s talk about the present. What is going on at the MLB All Star Game in San Diego?

CY: Sustain U has a 500 square foot booth at the All Star Game Fan Fest alongside MLB Green. We are showcasing the product, our story, and how it’s made. The visibility is just fantastic for us and we couldn’t be happier.

Sustain U ASG

Sustain U’s 2016 MLB All Star Game t-shirts, made from 100% recycled materials. (Photo credit: Sustain U)

 

Sustain U Fan Fest 2

Sustain U has a significant presence at the 2016 MLB All Star Game FanFest in San Diego (Photo credit: Sustain U)

 

GSB: That’s great! One last question: Are you still living with your parents?

CY: My folks have been great but I have been able to get my own place.

GSB: Congratulations and good luck!

 

# All of West Virginia and parts of 12 Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
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A Tale of Two Summits…and the Intersection of Green + Sports + Politics

Over the past two weeks, I did some serious sustainability-focused summit/conference-hopping. If you’ve been reading GreenSportsBlog you know I was in Houston reporting on the 6th annual Green Sports Alliance Summit, the highlight of the Green-Sports world year. Please click here and here for our posts from the GSA Summit. The week before, I was one of 800+ citizen lobbyists from all over the US, Canada and elsewhere at the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Annual International Conference in Washington, DC. We lobbied virtually every Senator, House member and/or their staffs in one day on behalf of a revenue-neutral, carbon fee and dividend legislative proposal. Throughout the two events, an intersection of Green + Sports + Politics emerged.

 

SPORTS INVADES THE CITIZENS’ CLIMATE LOBBY NATIONAL CONFERENCE (METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING)

Before an army of citizen lobbyists (including Private Lew Blaustein!) descended on Capitol Hill for a marathon day of meetings with virtually every Senator, House member and/or their staffs (that’s right, all in one day!), the 8th annual Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) International Conference featured two days of lobbying training, speeches and breakout sessions. All of this was dedicated towards helping CCL advance its Carbon Fee & Dividend (CF&D)—a Price on Carbon—legislative proposal towards becoming an actual bill that could actually pass both houses.

What does this have to do with sports? Well, hockey, football, and baseball each made their presence felt at the CCL Conference.

Hockey: A riveting keynote address, in part about the battles climate scientists have to fight against (mainly) the fossil fuel industry and their allies in government, was given by one of the most well-known and honored climate scientists in the world, Dr. Michael Mann, Director of the Penn State University Earth System Science Center. Mann led a 1998 study that reconstructed temperature records going back thousands of years.

Michael Mann

Dr. Michael Mann (Photo credit: Penn State University)

 

It showed global surface temperature averages had shot up since the Industrial Revolution, and more dramatically in recent decades. The chart that depicted the temperature record over time resembled a hockey stick, with the relatively constant ancient temperatures running along the “handle” and the most recent figures rising sharply at the “blade.”

Hockey Stick

Dr. Michael Mann’s temperature “hockey stick”, showing dramatically increasing temperatures since the industrial revolution. (Credit: Think Progress)

 

When data for atmospheric CO2 levels showed a similar hockey stick (flat for millennia, dramatic rise since the Industrial Revolution), humans’ causal role in climate change became much more certain, at least among the scientific community. The temperature and CO2 hockey sticks became part of popular culture through their depictions in Al Gore’s 2006 Academy Award winning documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Football: I have no idea if CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds is a football fan but he sure sounded like Joe “We’re Gonna Win The Game, I Guarantee It” Namath when he told the assembled CCL masses that “My promise is by the end of 2017, we will pass a [Price on Carbon] bill.” If Vegas oddsmakers were to make a betting line on Reynolds’ prediction, I’m sure the odds would be as long as they were for Namath’s three touchdown underdog New York Jets in Super Bowl III. After all, CCL will only go forward with a bipartisan bill—there currently are several bills floating around Congress that only have Democrat sponsors—which means they are likely to go nowhere. So CCL needs to get Republican house members and senators to sponsor CF&D. Good luck, right? But, like Broadway Joe, Reynolds believes so strongly his team of citizen lobbyists and will get some GOP sponsors that he made his guarantee. And while the odds appear long today, thanks in part to CCL and to a slight but definite momentum shift in the right direction on this issue, there are a few Republicans in the House who are starting, albeit in tentative fashion, to open up to the free market, revenue-neutral CF&D proposal. And, just remember, the Jets did win Super Bowl III.

Baseball: CCL Legislative Director Danny Richter not only reiterated Reynolds’ “We Will Pass a Bill” Namath-like guarantee, he raised the ante—and switched sports in the process—by invoking Babe Ruth. In the 1932 World Series between Ruth’s Yankees and the Chicago Cubs, the legend of The Bambino’s “Called Shot” has it that Ruth pointed to the centerfield bleachers at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, indicating that he would hit a homer over the ivy-covered wall—and then he did just that on Cubs’ hurler Charlie Root’s next pitch.

Ruth Called Shot

Robert Thom’s painting depicting Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” in the 1932 World Series. (Credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame)

 

The Called Shot became a recurring theme throughout the remainder of the conference, with Richter and virtually all CCLers calling their shot by by saying CCL will pass a bill by the end of 2017.

CCL Called Shot

Hundreds of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) volunteers “Calling Their Shot” outside the US Capitol before heading inside to lobby senators and house members on behalf of the Carbon Fee & Dividend proposal that CCL leadership guarantees will get passed in the next 18 months. (Photo credit: Citizens’ Climate Lobby)

 

FOLLOW THE (CORPORATE) MONEY

At the risk of plagiarizing Captain Obvious of Hotels.com ad fame, corporations wield a ton of power in both the sports and political worlds. Citizen lobby groups like CCL fight an uphill battle against large corporations and their lobbyists. Yet, I know that lobbying on behalf of an issue with a cadre of energized citizens serves a crucial role.

I saw that firsthand on Lobby Day. Virtually everyone with whom we met—I was in four lobbying sessions, mainly with staffers—was sharp, asked smart questions, understood climate change in great depth and was well aware of where their constituents stood on the issue.

However, groups like CCL also must lobby corporations, specifically those that have strong environmental records to put their lobbying muscle behind a Price on Carbon (CF&D or otherwise) to Members of Congress. The more than 100 corporations, including adidas and Nike, that signed a “Low Carbon USA” manifesto in April supporting the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the implementation of the global climate accord negotiated in Paris in December, would be a great place to start.

The climate denial/do-nothing-on-climate side of the issue has had well-funded and consistent corporate lobbying and funding support (OK, Exxon-Mobil announced a week ago it will “push hard” for a carbon tax; I’m from Missouri on this one–Show Me!) That means the price-on-carbon side must be an equally strong and consistent corporate counterbalance. Because no matter the party, house members and senators all agree on one thing: they want to continue being house members and senators (unless they’re retiring). And that requires money. Gobs of it.

The good news is CCL has started a Business Climate Leaders Action Team that, according to its website, “recruits leading companies to work with CCL chapters in promoting federal carbon pricing in the U.S.” So far it has engaged Unilever, the National Ski Areas Association, and New Belgium Brewing, among others, with more to come—and quickly I hope.

Sports, through the Green-Sports movement, should play a positive role in the Price-on-Carbon fight.

  • Sports entities that are members of the GSA, from the NCAA and pro league offices, have high-priced lobbyists in Congress. Commissioners have testified in front of Congress. Sports and Congress go together like Minneapolis & St. Paul.

Goodell Congress

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell testifying in front of Congress in 2009. (Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

 

  • Both large corporations and major pro and college sports can use positive PR these days. Lobbying in favor of a Price-on-Carbon would provide it, especially with the younger audiences (pro climate action) both crave.

 

Will major sports organizations push corporations to lobby on behalf of a Price on Carbon anytime soon? At a GSA Summit panel discussion, I asked the folks on the dais if their employers, major public corporations all, would support a Price on Carbon. If their dancing and non-answers were any indication of a broader trend, then corporations will need a shove from somewhere. Sports and the Green-Sports movement should help with a consistent push. That push could play a big role in helping CCL make good on Reynolds’ Namath-like guarantee.

 

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