H2O and CO2. Today’s News & Notes centers on those life-sustaining and, in the case of the latter, climate change-contributing compounds. New England Patriots defensive lineman Chris Long is leading an effort to bring much-needed water to East Africa. NRG, one the largest energy producers (brown and green power) in the US, is looking at delving in the athletic shoe market with “Shoe Without a Footprint” made from—get this—CO2. And, San Francisco’s Olympic Club, host of five US Opens, recently became the first North American Golf Club to issue a sustainability report, with water a main focus.
“WATERBOYS”: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS’ DEFENSIVE END CHRIS LONG ANOTHER NFL-ERS BRINGS WATER TO EAST AFRICA
Defensive End Chris Long, after playing the first eight years of his career with the largely mediocre-to-poor St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams, will taste the NFL playoffs for the first time with the New England Patriots on Saturday night. Whenever the Pats’ postseason run ends, the former first round draft pick from the University of Virginia will turn a good chunk of his offseason attention to Waterboys, the non-profit he founded to use his platform as a pro football player to affect change by bringing water to drought-ravaged Tanzania and other countries in East Africa.
Chris Long, New England Patriots and founder of Waterboys. (Photo credit: New England Patriots)
Long first visited Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Seeing the poverty and the challenging quality of life—due, in large part, to the water scarcity in the area—were his catalysts for action. That water deficit has reached crisis levels due to a massive prolonged drought that, according to climate scientists, is being exacerbated by climate change.
Through Waterboys, Long, philanthropist Doug Pitt and a network of 23 current and former NFLers, including his brother Kyle (Chicago Bears), Super Bowl XLVIII-winning quarterback Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) and eco-athlete Connor Barwin (Philadelphia Eagles)^, donate their own funds and, through social media, raise money from their fans to support the digging of wells by local workers in East Africa. To date, 14 wells have been funded (their initial goal is to fund 32, one for each of the NFL teams) with each serving 7,500 people at a cost of $45,000.
Chris Long shares the Waterboys story in this 2 minute 32 second video
If you are interested in supporting Waterboys, please click here.
MAKING SNEAKERS FROM CO2
What if I told you that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are not just the primary driver of climate change, but also a potential key ingredient for an almost infinite number of materials, fuels and products we use every day?
That is not the beginning of an ad for a new ESPN 30-for-30 sports documentary (which all begin with “What if I told you…?”).
Rather, it is the question posed by XPRIZE consultant Alisa Ferguson in “You’ll Never Guess How CO2 Can Save US,” a thought provoking December 13, 2016 piece in GreenBiz. She readily acknowledges that the technology to turn CO2 into, well, stuff, is in its very early days and may never scale. But then again, it may: Professor Michael Aresta of the University of Bari (Italy), confidently says humanity will be able to recycle up to 25 percent of emitted CO2 by 2036.
Ms. Ferguson offers several eyebrow-raising examples of Fortune 500 companies working on spent CO2-based products: Sprint began selling iPhone cases made from waste CO2 captured at farms and landfills, Ford plans to make car seats from foam and plastics derived from CO2 emissions.
The one that raised my eyebrows the most was “Shoe Without a Footprint,” (SWF) a collaboration between NRG and new product development firm 10xBeta. GreenSportsBlog readers may recall that NRG is one of the largest producers of power in the US, both clean/green and dirty/brown and has installed solar arrays at six NFL stadia.
First look at Shoe Without a Footprint from 10xBeta and NRG. (Photo credit: NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE)
The foam embedded in SWF is the brainchild of 10xBeta CEO and inventor Marcel Botha. CO2 emitted by power plants was captured and turned into a special polymer which made up approximately 75 percent of the final product.
Now, don’t go to your nearest FootLocker, asking for a size 10 SWF just yet. Only five pair were created for entry into the Carbon XPrize contest, an NRG-sponsored competition aimed at finding innovative technologies that could turn carbon dioxide emissions into useful products. But Botha asserts that the technology is scalable.
THE OLYMPIC CLUB BECOMES FIRST US GOLF VENUE TO PUBLISH SUSTAINABILITY REPORT
San Francisco’s Olympic Club is one of the USA’s iconic golf clubs. Here are some key numbers that buttress that claim:
5: U.S. Opens hosted by the Olympic Club, most recently in 2012
33: The Olympic Club’s ranking on Golf Digest’s 2015 list of “America’s 100 Greatest Courses.”
1: The Olympic Club is the first club in North America to release a comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report, demonstrating transparency in operations related to the environment, community, and economy – while exhibiting the aesthetics, performance, and playability of a top 100 course.
The Olympic Club, San Francisco; the first golf club in North America to issue a sustainability report. (Photo credit: Golf Advisor)
Water management plays a key role in The Olympic Club’s sustainability efforts. The Olympic Club reports that recycled water accounts for 97 percent of water used at its golf course—as compared to an average of 25 percent for all golf courses in the United States, according to the Golf Course Superintendents Association)
Women-owned sustainability consulting firm IMPACT360 Sports, which developed the sustainability report in collaboration with The Olympic Club, conducted stakeholder interviews, assessments, and surveys covering thousands of data points related to natural resources use, diversity, inclusion, and community engagement. This led to the development of The Olympic Club’s sustainability baselines and goals.
With a massive drought in golf-mad California and a growing need to engage the millennial market segment, there is a heightened focus on the environment and increasing diversity within the sport.
“The Olympic Club is elevating its commitment to the environment, diversity, and community within an industry that needs to embrace sustainability to grow the game,” said IMPACT360 Sports Co-Founder (and subject of a March 2015 GreenSportsBlog interview) Aubrey McCormick. “As a former professional golfer, I am particularly proud of The Olympic Club. Fans and future golfers are going to align with athletes and courses that share their values. CSR reporting and sustainability will be increasingly important.”
^ The rest of the Waterboys NFL roster includes Branden Albert (Miami Dolphins), Danny Amendola (New England Patriots), Anquan Boldin (Detroit Lions), Nate Boyer (former Green Beret and Seattle Seahawk), Sam Bradford (Minnesota Vikings), Dwayne Brown (Houston Texans), Calais Campbell (Arizona Cardinals), Brian Cushing (Houston Texans), Vontae Davis (Indianapolis Colts), D’Brickashaw Ferguson (retired, New York Jets), Chad Greenway (Minnesota Vikings), Tamba Hali (Kansas City Chiefs), Chris Harris (Denver Broncos), AJ Hawk (Cincinnati Bengals), Johnny Hekker (LA Rams), Fred Jackson (retired, Buffalo Bills), Charles Johnson (Carolina Panthers), TJ Lang (Green Bay Packers), Jim Laurinaitis (New Orleans Saints), Taylor Lewan (Tennessee Titans), Zach Martin (Dallas Cowboys), Eugene Monroe (Baltimore Ravens), Jared Odrick (Jacksonville Jaguars), Lawrence Timmons (Pittsburgh Steelers), Justin Tuck (retired, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders), and Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans).