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. 

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.


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 .


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. 


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. 


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.


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:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WrVNIyKarw&w=560&h=315]

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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