The water sports world has been at the forefront of the Sports-Greening movement, drawing attention to the problems of plastic ocean waste, sea level rise, species loss and more. Today’s GSB News & Notes column is water sports-logged as we share stories about a new, environmentally-friendly wetsuit from Patagonia and a commitment from World Sailing to protect the marine environment. Then, we go back on land to give a Green-Sports lesson to New York Jets (aka Gang Green) rookie QB/savior Sam Darnold.
GREEN WETSUITS FROM, NOT SURPRISINGLY, PATAGONIA
Increasing numbers of divers, surfers, triathletes, and more have driven demand for wetsuits to an all-time high.
Most wetsuits available in the market today are made from closed-cell, foam neoprene, a type of synthetic rubber with nitrogen gas bubbles that serve the dual purpose of keeping the body dry and insulating it.”
According to Anjana Athanikar, writing in the July 3 issue of Sustainability Active, foam neoprene is very harmful to the environment: “The material is made from oil and consumes significant energy in the [production] process. The worst part is the material is non-biodegradable.”
Not surprisingly, it is Patagonia who is looking to disrupt the wetsuit market by marketing an eco-friendly product. Its’ Yulex® fabric features 85 percent natural rubber material, replacing a petroleum-based material with a plant-based one. High-stretch exterior and interior linings are made from 55 percent recycled polyester fabric. . The result? Significantly reduced CO₂ emissions from the manufacturing process. And, writes Athanikar, the product wins on performance, as it is “softer and more elastic.”
Green wetsuits from a Patagonia-Yulex partnership (Photo credit: Picture Organic)
Right now, the eco-friendly wetsuit sub-category makes up a tiny fraction of the overall wetsuit market. I suspect that Patagonia’s iconic brand power, combined with the eco-mindedness of a number of elite surfers and triathletes, will start the growth phase for green wetsuits. Once that happens, increased competition and even more growth will follow.
WORLD SAILING LAUNCHES NEW FUND TO PROTECT MARINE ENVIRONMENT
World Sailing, the sport’s governing body, announced it is launching a new fund to support sustainable development in the oceans.
Per a story in Climate Action Programme on July 2, the fund will focus on “three areas of concern: “marine health, youth development, and improving access to the sport.”
The marine health fund looks to build upon some of the great environmental work in the sailing world contributed by the likes Vestas 11th Hour Racing, fifth place finisher in the recently concluded, ’round-the-world 2018 Volvo Ocean Race. It will seek, as mentioned in the Climate Action Programme, to “create more sustainable products within sailing and accelerate the use low-carbon technologies and behaviors. It will also actively improve the health of the ocean environment.”
The trust will be chaired by leading British sailor Dee Caffari, who captained the Turn the Tide on Plastic team to a sixth place result in the Volvo Ocean Race.
“In the past, other sailing charities have been very local and regionalized,” said Gaffari. “The World Sailing Trust has a global reach so we can cover all aspects, all areas and all regions. For the first time, World Sailing can use its reach and connections to make things happen across youth, sustainability and participation sectors and have a bigger impact.”
Dee Caffari, captain of Volvo Ocean Race team Turn on the Plastic and chairwoman of the newly-minted World Sailing fund to protect the marine environment (Photo credit: Sky Sports)
World Sailing represents an estimated 70 million sailors in 145 countries and so is ideally positioned to promote and document sustainable practices in the most remote places. Sailors like Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, skipper and team director of Vestas 11th Hour Racing, have witnessed first-hand the devastating impacts of marine pollution and an increasingly volatile climate.
- On ocean waste, Enright related his 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race experience in a January interview with GreenSportsBlog, recalling that, “The amount of marine debris we encountered was truly astonishing. We expected to see plenty of ‘leakage’ — all sorts of materials from container ships that would fall into the ocean — and we did. But the old refrigerators, air conditioners and tires we saw floating around in the middle of the ocean — they didn’t fall off of ships. The waste was so thick, it looked like you could walk in some parts of the waters between Malaysia and Indonesia, thanks to the lax dumping regulations.”
- Enright and company also experienced the effects of climate change up close: “Because of climate change, icebergs are floating further south from the Arctic regions and further north from the Antarctic.”
Charlie Enright, skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Photo Credit: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)
While the establishment of the fund is a big plus, World Sailing, it says here, has a mixed reputation on environmental issues. It was the first sporting federation to win an international sustainability standard. On the other hand, Pete Sowrey, the organization’s CEOin the run-up to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, claimed he was fired for recommending that the sailing events be moved from the photogenic-but-polluted Guanabara Bay.
Andy Hunt, Sowrey’s successor as CEO, is working to set World Sailing’s sustainability ship on a steady course with the new fund. “We have a duty to enhance and protect the sport’s future,” Hunt asserted. “Harnessing the energy of the sailing community and our global network, we can generate wide-spread change across the sport quickly and effectively.”
JETS ROOKIE QB SAM DARNOLD YET TO SEE THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF MASS TRANSIT
Early July is “human interest story” time for the American football media. Training camps don’t open for another two weeks, so there’s no actual football to write about, but fan interest in the NFL is 24-7-365. So this is “fluff time”
Thursday’s piece in the New York Daily News by Nicholas Parco is typical of this genre.
Parco reported that New York Jets rookie quarterback/potential savior Sam Darnold revealed that, since moving from Southern California (he grew up there, went to USC), he’s become a Mets rather than Yankees fan (nobody’s perfect^).
Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold, during spring mini camp (Photo credit: Julio Cortez/AP)
The hard-hitting interview also revealed that, among other New York City things, Darnold prefers taxis over subways.
In the big picture, this answer, is of course not a big deal. Darnold doesn’t live in the city — the Jets train in Florham Park and play their home games in E. Rutherford, both in New Jersey — so he’s new to the experience.
But when will the default response from a high profile Big Apple athlete during the climate change era (aka NOW!) be in favor of subways, with the quote being something like this “subways, no doubt, because mass transit is always a much greener way to get around than a taxi.”
^ Hopefully Darnold will be close to perfect on the football field
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