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GSB News and Notes: Home of Cricket Goes to Bat vs. Climate Change; Tokyo 2020 Medals to be Made from Cell Phones; WeTap Presses for More Water Fountains at Stadiums


GSB News & Notes spans the globe, from London to Tokyo to Los Angeles. Lord’s, England’s “Home of Cricket” joins the fight against climate change. Olympic and Paralympic medals for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games will be made from recycled mobile phones. And WeTap, a Los Angeles-based non-profit, that promotes the availability of clean, fresh, reliable drinking water for kids, is pushing the Dodgers to improve access to drinking fountains.


Lord’s Cricket Ground is “The Home of Cricket.” The managers of the London-based stadium and its prime occupant, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), are working to fight and adapt to climate change. Their goal is to do what they can to avert more damage from the severe weather that has already cost millions of pounds and wrecked several historic cricket grounds.


Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. (Photo credit: Lord’s Cricket Ground)


According to a February 6 story in Bloomberg from Jess Shankleman, the club and Lord’s signed an agreement with EDF Energy Plc that shifts its electricity consumption to 100 percent renewable energy. Lord’s made the move after an analysis showed storms and flooding linked to climate change caused more than 3.5 million pounds ($US4.3 million) of damage across 57 English cricket clubs in a single stormy month in 2015.

“We know climate change made the record wet weather in December 2015 considerably more likely,” said Piers Forster, director of the Priestley International Center for Climate at the University of Leeds, in a statement released by a group of civic groups called The Climate Coalition. “U.K. weather will always bowl us the odd googly^, but climate change is making them harder to defend against.

Shankleman noted that the England & Wales Cricket Board contributed more than 1 million pounds to 57 cricket clubs hit by flooding in 2016 (after an unusually wet 2015-16 winter, abetted by Storm Desmond) and has earmarked an additional 1.6 million pounds for this year. The Corbridge Cricket Club in Northumberland, the northernmost county of England, was forced to demolish a 130 year-old club house following Storm Desmond.

Russell Seymour, sustainability manager for MCC, told Bloomberg, that even though Lord’s wasn’t hit by Desmond, “it wants to raise awareness of the impacts that climate change could have on the sport.” 

It is doing so by mounting solar panels on top of Lord’s renovated Warner Stand that will generate both electricity and hot water. MCC is also installing a ground source heat pump to provide heating and cooling for the building.



Olympic host cities have traditionally obtained the metal from for their medals by contracting with mining firms to unearth new gold, silver and bronze.

Not the organizers of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The Japanese public is being asked to donate old phones and small appliances to gather the over two tons of gold, silver and bronze for the more than 5,000 medals that will be awarded at the 2020 Games. According to a BBC report on February 2, the Olympic Medals project hopes to promote sustainability, build an appreciation among the Japanese public of their country’s relative lack of mineral resources, and to reduce costs.

Starting in April, specially marked collection boxes will be placed in telecom stores and other retail destinations and will remain there until the required amount of metal has been collected.

My guess is they’ll get to their number sooner rather than later.

There are an awful lot of cell phones in Japan to potentially recycle—in 2013, there were 147 million# for a population of 127 million (1.15 phones per capita). And the Japanese are gold medalists when it comes to recycling: As of 2007, the country diverted an incredible 98% of its metals* from the landfill, including cell phones.

Still, tying recycling to the Olympics is a brilliant idea.

“A project that allows the people of Japan to take part in creating the medals is really good,” said Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi, “There’s a limit on the resources of our earth, so recycling these things will make us think about the environment.”


The Japanese people are being asked to recycle electronics, including cell phones… (Photo credit: Digital Trends)


…In order to make the medals that will be awarded at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. (Photo credit: Inhabitat)

WeTap, a Los Angeles-based non-profit that is the brainchild of Founding Director Evelyn Wendel, exists to improve awareness, access and use of public drinking fountains, reducing dependence on single-use plastic bottled water, while improving public health.
Wendel’s inspiration came while her kids were in middle school in the late 2000s. She noticed “every day at lunch time, the school cafeteria area would be littered with single use plastic.” This led to her realization that, if her children’s school had an issue with discarded water bottles, then all L.A. schools would likely have similar problems. This would, per Wendel, include schools in inner city urban environments, “where children are often raised in poverty and where school lunch programs are their only source of nutrition and hydration.” She saw that “a big part of the single use plastic water bottle dependence problem could be solved by making systematic improvements to the condition and maintenance programs of drinking fountains at schools, in playgrounds and parks and other outside venues, including sport stadiums.”

Evelyn Wendel, Founding Director, WeTap, next to, what else, a drinking fountain in an L.A. park. (Photo credit: Rick Schmidt)

Volunteering in 2008 on water issues with California’s then-First Lady Maria Shriver led Wendel to start WeTap in 2009. “We developed an Android app at UCLA that GPS-mapped and assessed drinking water fountains,” she said, “That got us started and then we got a grant from Metabolic Studios of The Annenberg Foundation for an iPhone app.”
Which is a good thing, when one considers that:

  • One of L.A.’s parks, which hosts 2,000+ soccer playing kids as well as many baseball players every weekend, only has one water fountain by the soccer field and hoses attached to spigots near the baseball diamonds
  • Water fountains at public schools historically have not been properly maintained, leading to a lack of trust—and usage—on the part of students and faculty.


A rare drinking fountain at a busy Los Angeles park. (Photo credit: Evelyn Wendel)

WeTap’s lobbying of the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) and the State of California on behalf of the need for more and better water fountains paid off in 2016 with a $20 million dollar commitment from LAUSD to make drinking fountain improvements. The State of California kicked in $10 million to help provide drinking water solutions to schools the approximately 11,000 schools statewide. WeTap’s efforts also help push L.A.’s Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and the City of Los Angeles to install new hydration stations in several high profile locations around the city, including:

  • Griffith Park, the second largest urban park in the country.
  • In front of LA City Hall, on behalf of Tap Water Day, a yearly opportunity for water agencies, cities and school districts (and others) to rally together to make improvements and educate the public about how valuable and safe municipal tap water services are.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Wendel’s next step is talking to the Los Angeles Dodgers. She believes sports is the best platform to help WeTap scale the access-to-safe-clean-water-fountains movement quickly. So the Dodgers have a WeTap proposal in front of them that encourages the club to fund canteen give-away programs as well as to continue making drinking fountain improvements at Dodger Stadium. There is a challenge with the latter because increasing the number of fountains at the ballpark will cannibalize bottled water sales.
Wendel, not surprisingly, believes that is solvable. “We are not asking for a ban on bottled water sales but instead to provide free, fresh public water as required by law and to benefit healthy lifestyle habits for the general public while helping to keep the environment protected.”
I wouldn’t bet against her.

^ A “googly” is the cricket equivalent of a knuckleball in baseball—a bowled ball that has a deceptive motion.
“Global Competitiveness Report 20014-2015” (PDF). World Economic Forum. 2015.
* “Ministry of the Environment 2010: Establishing a sound material-cycle society: Milestone toward a sound material-cycle society through changes in business and life styles,” Government of Japan, Tokyo. smcs/a-rep/2010gs_full.pdf

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  1. […] Oh, WeTap is a terrific group and a great partner for the marathon. We interviewed them back a couple of months […]

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