Natalka Lindstrom: Leilani Münter, Green-Sports Super Fan

LEED-certified stadia and arenas increasingly dot the sports venue landscape. Zero-waste games are becoming more and more the rule rather than the exception these days. Eco-athletes can be found in most sports. What sports hasn’t had, at least to my knowledge, are Green-Sports Super Fans — fans who support and sometimes travel great distances to watch athletes and/or teams specifically because of their environmental advocacy and actions.

Until now, that is.

Natalka Lindstrom traveled last week from her home in Edmonton, Alberta to Daytona, Florida to see her favorite driver, Leilani Münter, the “vegan, eco, hippie chick with a race car,” compete in the Lucas Oil 200, the opener of the ARCA series.

GreenSportsBlog talked with Natalka both before and after her Super Fan sojourn.

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 6: BEFORE LEAVING FOR DAYTONA

GreenSportsBlog: Hi Natalka! I am so happy to find a Green-Sports Super Fan, and one who is a devoted supporter of animal rights activist, plant-based diet advocate, electric vehicle (EV) devotee and climate change-fighter Leilani Münter makes it all the better. Let’s start from the beginning. Where are you from originally and what do you do when not traveling the almost 2,800 miles from Edmonton to Daytona for Leilani’s race in the Lucas Oil 200?

Natalka Lindstrom: Well, I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, moved to Regina, Saskatchewan and now am in Edmonton…

GSB: A woman of the prairie! 

NL: Yes indeed. I work for the Service Alberta division of the provincial government.

GSB: Provincial government worker; that sounds like a great alter-ego for a Green-Sports Super Fan! So how did you come to follow Leilani? Were you always an auto racing fan? Or were you an animal-rights devotee and plant-based diet activist first?

NL: When I was a kid, maybe eight years old, I visited my dad in Winnipeg — my folks were divorced — and he took me to a little raceway nearby. There was this bright yellow car, which I loved. Dad even took me down to the pit! It was so cool. But then I lost interest. I mean, I’d watch auto racing if there was nothing else on TV but I got into other sports like football, softball, baseball and curling.

 

Natalka at 8

An 8 year-old Natalka Lindstrom during her first visit to a racetrack (Photo credit: Natalka Lindstrom)

 

GSB: Curling? I love curling…Even tried it one time. I will curl again, you can bank on that! So if your interest in auto racing fell by the wayside, how did you end up booking a vacation to Daytona to watch Leilani race this weekend?

NL: It goes back to my love of, and concern for dolphins and whales at the hands of humans. I believe it was in 2009 or 2010 that I first heard of Leilani when I saw the DVD of “The Cove,” a powerful documentary film about the slaughter of dolphins off the coast of Japan. I started reading her blog posts, learning more about her activism, saw “Racing Extinction,” another documentary she was in about man-made mass extinction. I just became very impressed with her dedication and willingness to advocate on behalf of animal rights. I loved that she drove a Tesla; that she was using her platform race car driver for animal rights and electric cars was amazing to me.

GSB: So then what happened?

NL: For a few years, Leilani found it tough to get enough funding to race. But I continued to follow her on social media and online and told myself that, when she gets back on the track, I’m going to be there! And so last year, when Leilani was able to race at the ARCA Series season opener at Daytona, I went down.

GSB: Had you ever followed an athlete or celebrity on the road like that?

NL: Nope; this was a first.

GSB: How was that experience?

NL: It was great! I got to meet Leilani at the driver autograph sessions as well as her team, went to the vegan food tent Leilani was running, got some great photos — I’m an amateur photographer. It was all very exciting and great, aside from the fact that Leilani got run off the track and was unable to finish. But she is a fighter and I knew she’d be back in 2018. So I saved my money and when it became clear that she would be racing at the Lucas Oil 200, the ARCA series opener at Daytona this year, I booked my trip. And then last week I received an email from Leilani’s husband Craig — everybody calls him “Kiwi” — offering me a “Pit Pass.”

GSB: You hit the jackpot!

NL: I can’t wait…

 

WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 14: BACK HOME IN EDMONTON

GSB: So, aside from it being a lot warmer in Daytona than in Edmonton, how was it??

NL: AMAZING!! On Friday, I met Leilani and used the pass to watch the qualifying runs that day for Saturday’s race from the pit. It was so cool. I was watching with Kiwi and her sister Nicolette.

GSB: How does qualifying work?

NL: So there are 40 cars in the race. Groups of four to six cars of the field of 40 race for a few laps — the track is 2.5 miles long — at speeds that sometimes top 180 miles per hour. The order of the start of Saturday’s race is decided by the racer’s time in the qualifying runs. Leilani won her group and she was in first place overall at that time. But there were several groups still to go. In the end, Leilani qualified with the fifth fastest time, a good position for her. And her Venturini Motorsports teammate Natalie Decker had the fastest time to earn the pole position. Two of the five fastest qualifying times by women drivers. How cool is THAT?!

GSB: Pretty cool, I’d say!

NL: We met Leilani back in the garage — she was very excited to get fifth. Kiwi welcomed me like I was part of the team, which was just great. And there were people from SpaceX there…

 

Natalka + Leilani + Vegan Strong

Leilani Münter and Natalka Lindstrom (Photo credit: Natalka Lindstrom)

 

GSB: …That’s right…SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space exploration company, launched a rocket from nearby Cape Canaveral just a few days before the race, and Leilani drives a Tesla, a company also run by Elon Musk. That SpaceX was there makes perfect sense. So tell me about Saturday, race day!

NL: The race started at 4:30 but I got to the track at around noon and went to the vegan food tent, funded by Leilani’s sponsor, Veganstrong.com. A little while after that, the chef brought out Impossible Burgers for the fans to sample…

GSB: …I know about Impossible Burgers…they’re the vegan burgers that not only taste like beef but also have the look and feel of beef! Are they any good?

 

Impossible Burgers

Impossible (vegan) Burgers get ready for sampling last weekend at the Veganstrong.com tent at Daytona International Speedway (Photo credit: Natalka Lindstrom)

 

NL: They’re delicious! I can’t wait until they come to Canada.

GSB: They are in New York City…I need to check them out. OK, take us inside the Daytona International Speedway for the run-up to the start.

NL: The build up is intense. At around 4 PM, the drivers get introduced and enter the track, from last qualifier to first, back to front. Leilani, who had meditated before the race, came out looking very confident, waving to the crowd. They loved her. For me, being in the pit was incredible — I was right next to the tire changing crew!

 

Leilani Before Race Start

Leilani Münter enters the track at Daytona International Speedway before the start of Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 (Photo credit: Natalka Lindstrom)

 

GSB: Then the race starts…

NL: …And Leilani is right in there with the leaders for much of the race. I really think she could’ve won. But she had a couple of challenges with her tires that put her near the back of the pack. That she was able to climb back from 30-something place to eighth is something. Leilani will I’m sure judge herself critically but I think it was one of her best races. We all went back to the garage — Leilani was burning up at first as it was incredibly hot in that car — and there were hugs all around. Her Venturini Motorsports teammate Michael Self ended up winning the race and pole sitter Natalie Decker finished fifth, so the team was very happy.

GSB: Sounds like a strong race for Leilani, terrific publicity for Vegan Strong…

NL: …Oh yeah, for sure! On Sunday I went back to the track as there was another race…

GSB: …That’s right, Leilani and her team have been at the Vegan Strong tent most of this week leading up to Sunday’s Daytona 500, NASCAR’s Super Bowl…

NL: Yes. So I hung out at the Vegan Strong tent where they were again serving Impossible Burgers.

GSB: How did the fans react?

NL: At first, most said things like “this can’t be plant-based. It’s too good!” It took awhile to convince them. One guy insisted, “I’m not gonna try it!” His friend brought him back later, he tried the Impossible Burger and loved it! And, this was really cool…there were some workers at the track who are vegans. They heard what was going on and came over to try the burgers. They could not believe how good and burger-like they were.

 

Leilani at Tent

Leilani Münter takes a photo of skeptical racing fans trying Impossible Burgers (Photo credit: Natalka Lindstrom)

 

GSB: It sure sounds like Impossible Burgers are aptly named! Did you meet or hear any detractors, climate change deniers…that sort of thing?

NL: I have to say that I did not hear or see anything like that during my time at the tent. But it is possible that people say the “right thing” but really think another. Still, as far as I could tell, nothing negative was being said.

GSB: Well, in a small way, this is progress. Which is what Leilani is aiming for. Progress.

NL: Exactly. And that’s the thing about Leilani: She won’t take no for an answer yet she’ll also listen. You will not find anyone more passionate about animal rights, plant-based diet and climate change. And that’s why I’m a fan.

GSB: Correction…that’s why you’re a Leilani Münter, Green-Sports Super Fan. Now we need to find more of you!

 


 

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GSB News and Notes: LA Coliseum Goes Zero Waste; The Green(er) Aussie Open; Last Day in Office for First POTUS to Talk Green-Sports

A busy GSB News & Notes kicks off with the newly minted Zero-Waste Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (the Zero-Waste part is new; the Coliseum opened during the Harding Administration). Also greening is tennis’ first major championship, the Australian Open, now underway in Melbourne. And, finally, a brief send off from GreenSportsBlog to President Obama, the first POTUS to publicly talk about the importance of the intersection of Green + Sports, on his last full day in office.

 

LA COLISEUM GOES ZERO-WASTE

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is huge, both literally—it holds 93,607 for football— and in terms of its place in American and global sports history.

la-coliseum-usc-neil-leifer

The Los Angeles Coliseum, packed and jammed for USC-UCLA crosstown rivalry game in 2005 (Photo credit: Neil Leifer)

 

Just consider that the Coliseum:

  • Hosted the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics. If Los Angeles is chosen to host in 2024, the Coliseum will play a key role.
  • Was the landing place for the Los Angeles Dodgers when they moved west from Brooklyn in 1958 (until Dodger Stadium opened in 1962)
  • Hosted Super Bowl I in 1967
  • Is the home of USC Trojans football. UCLA shared the Coliseum with its crosstown rival from 1928-1981*.
  • Starting last season, is the temporary home for the NFL Rams after a 20 year hiatus in St. Louis. The club will move to the gaudily-named City Of Champions Stadium—for the 2019 campaign#.

And, as of 2016, this west coast sports mecca became a Zero-Waste facility—the second-largest such stadium in college football and the largest in the NFL. 

“We’re proud to be a part of a program such as the Zero Waste Initiative at the Coliseum. This is an opportunity for USC Athletics and our fans to lead the way in terms of taking ownership of our environmental impact on game days,” said USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann. “Our university, fans and alumni should be proud of the success of this program.”

“A large part of making our communities a better place includes making as little an impact on the environment as possible,” said Molly Higgins, the Rams’ vice president of community affairs and engagement.

The Zero Waste program diverted over 400,000 pounds of waste over the season. It took a 3-step effort between fans (who first sorted waste into bins), a crew of 80-100 custodial and sustainability staff (who further sorted the waste), and Athens Services, the Coliseum’s recycling partner, to make the grade. 

usc-recycle

Recycling bin outside of the LA Coliseum on USC game day (Photo credit: USCTrojans.com)

 

 

Corporate green-sports stalwarts BASF and EcoSafe added their waste management expertise as partners of the Coliseum’s Zero-Waste efforts. They were joined by Legends Hospitality (sustainable catering), ABM Janitorial Services (green cleaning), and Waxie (sustainable sanitary supply). 

THE GREEN(ER) AUSTRALIAN OPEN

The team responsible for sustainability at the Australian Open—Tennis Australia (governing body of tennis in Australia), Melbourne & Olympic Parks (host facility of the Australian Open), and the State of Victoria—is in the midst of a 15 year, $AUD700 million redevelopment project with the goal to establish Melbourne & Olympic Park as “one of the most sustainable sports and entertainment venues in the world.”

About a year ago, GreenSportsBlog gave the Australian Open “Green Team” high marks for their on-site sustainability efforts but saw room for improvement in 2016 in terms of fan engagement and awareness of their sustainability good works.

How did they make out?

Thanks to a fine case study from the Sports Environment Alliance (SEA, Australia’s version of the Green Sports Alliance), it looks like the Tennis Australia and the Australian Open continued its strong greening performance on site but the fan engagement portion still rates an “Incomplete” grade. The Tennis Australia Green Team:

  • Continued its decrease in water usage. The effort, which started in 2008, has now reached 25 percent, in part by:
    • Irrigating Melbourne Park with recycled water thanks to large underground water tanks installed onsite.
    • Switching irrigation systems from overhead spray to drip and sub surface.
    • Installing above ground water tanks at Hisense Arena with 550,000-liter capacity to use rainwater for washing courts, stadiums and irrigation.
  • Invested in smart solar powered lighting 

  • Converted 100% of takeaway food packaging to recyclable materials
  • Ensured all seafood is served according to Australia’s Marine Conservation Society’s Seafood Watch “avoid list”

  • Added state-of-the-art roof coatings that reflect 70 percent of the sun’s heat, keeping buildings cooler on the many very hot days that often plague the tournament.

 

aus-open-infographic

Infographic detailing Australian Open/Tennis Australia’s greening efforts from Sports Environment Alliance

 

Tennis Australia still needs to better communicate the existence and benefits of the green initiatives to fans. This last point is echoed in the SEA case study: “Australian Open organizers know all about these greening efforts, however there remains a need to engage” the 700,000+ fans expected to attend the tournament about the greening efforts. I would add that fans watching on TV and online also need to be made aware that the Australian Open is a leader of the Green-Sports movement.

 

LAST DAY IN OFFICE FOR FIRST POTUS TO TALK GREEN-SPORTS

Today is the last full day in office for Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. It is not at all a stretch to say he was the first Climate Change President:  Obama, mainly through executive actions, authored more stringent fuel economy standards for automobiles; enacted the Clean Power Plan, which is leading to a reduction in carbon emissions; signed a meaningful carbon emissions deal with China, and led the effort that resulted in the Paris Climate Accord, signed by 195 countries. He also is the first POTUS ever to publish a peer reviewed journal article,“The Irreversible Momentum of Clean Energy,” appearing in Science.

Obama, a serious sports fan and, at 55, still a competitive basketball player, was also the first POTUS to publicly discuss the power of the intersection of Green + Sports. GreenSportsBlog chronicled Obama’s and his administration’s dives into Green-Sports, from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz speaking to the 2015 Green Sports Alliance Summit to the White House Sports-Climate Change Roundtables to POTUS’ mention of the NHL’s and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ commitment to sustainability (“we wanna continue to have ice so that we can play hockey”) at the latter’s White House ceremony celebrating its 2016 Stanley Cup win.

President Obama talks Green-Sports at the October 2016 ceremony honoring the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins (Green-Sports section of the talk starts at 6:41 mark of the video).

As Vice President Joe Biden so eloquently put it after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) in 2010, Obama’s Green-Sports forays were “big BLEEPING deals” for the movement. Because, while the sports world has done incredible work greening the games themselves over a very short time span (the Obama presidency began before the Green Sports Alliance was launched), it has a long way to go as far as generating fan awareness of, and interest in said greening is concerned. A President talking about Green-Sports automatically generates both.

Obama used sports to promote social causes beyond Green-Sports. Has there ever been a POTUS who embodied Nelson Mandela’s “Sport can change the world!” ethos more than the 44th President? I think not. Among other things, Obama:

And, it seems likely that the first black President was a key catalyst for the recent expressions of social conscience by African American athletes. That’s one of the points made in “Obama’s Basketball Jones Connected Him to Hoopheads Everywhere” by Mike Wise^. His STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW AND READ THIS column appears in the January 17 issue of ESPN’s The Undefeateda website that explores “the intersections of race, sports and culture.”

obama-souza

President Obama, driving to the basket during a pickup game with White House staffers at Martha’s Vineyard in August, 2009. (Photo credit: The White House/Pete Souza, official photographer)

 

Will President Trump link sports and social causes? If so, which causes will he pursue? It is safe to assume that Green-Sports will not be a high priority for the 45th President. But that’s a discussion for another day.

For now, I say a heartfelt thank you to President Obama for his service, leadership (especially on climate change), integrity and dignity.

* UCLA has called the Rose Bowl home since 1982.
# The Rams will be joined by the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers.
^ Wise cited a June 6 piece in The Undefeated by colleague L.Z. Granderson, “Will Current NBA Stars #staywoke After Obama Leaves Office?”, as the source for his linkage of the activism of African American athletes and President Obama.

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Tesla and Nike: Promote Your Greenness to Sports Audiences

Precious few companies with sustainable product/service lines have used sports as a platform on which to market their greenness to fans. Fear of consumer backlash could be a reason for the reticence. 

Sure, some aspects of those fears could be well founded. But, it says here that the marketing climate, even despite the results of November 8, is more favorable than not for Green Giants (companies with sustainability as a core value and a market cap of at least $1 billion as detailed in the book of the same name by recent GSB interviewee Freya Williams) who are also influential, trend-shapers to market their sustainability bona fides.

Companies like Tesla and Nike.

In case these two Green Giants are not quite ready to advertise a sustainability-focused and/or climate change-fighting message, GreenSportsBlog is here to offer rationale—and even some free creative concepts—to nudge them in the green direction.

 

 

BASF and White Wave are two companies with strong sustainability track records who successfully market their greenness through sports. They both get that, in an ever more fragmented media landscape, sports is still the best way to reach a mass audience. And they obviously believe that promoting their greenness through sports will enhance their image and build their business.

But BASF, a global chemical conglomerate that is aggressively shifting to greener processes and products, is mainly in the Business-to-Business (B-to-B) space. White Wave is a small-but-growing, purpose driven food company. Neither are major, Green Giant consumer brands with the ability, spending-wise and image-wise, to use sports to influence a wide swath of the population.

Is it time for Green Giants to build upon what BASF and White Wave have started to market to fans of the New York Giants—and those of many other teams? 

Yes, it is.

But what about those consumer backlash fears?

Perhaps the election of climate change skeptic Donald Trump validates the notion that companies should shy away from promoting their greenness as an important feature through sports or any other advertising platform. 

But other data from 2016 point in a very different direction:

  • Several polls show that up to 70% of Americans think climate change is real (Monmouth University, January), with about half citing human activity as the main cause (Pew, October). 
  • Concern about climate change was at an 8 year high as of March (Gallup).
  • And, post-election, a majority of US adults say stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost (Pew, December).
  • More broadly, a global research study sponsored by Green Giant Unilever revealed that 78 percent of US shoppers feel better when they buy sustainably produced products. (Europanel and Flamingo, December)

Our take? The winds seem more at the backs of the Green Giants in terms of marketing their greenness than not. But even if there are some headwinds, GGs like Tesla and Nike have made their reputations in part by going against the grain. 

So here are some ways Tesla and Nike can go about using sports to communicate their green bona fides.

 

TESLA

Tesla, synonymous with the small but fast-growing electric vehicles (EV) market, is one of the coolest brands of this era. It launched in 2008 with the ultra-high end, ultra-high profile, ultra-hip $110,000 Roadster. That many, including company founder Elon Musk, judged the Roadster to be a technical failure was of little import; Tesla’s ultra cool brand image was born.

The company broadened its potential audience in 2014 by moving down to merely the high end market with the $70,000 Model S sedan, seen by most observers as a clear technical and commercial success. And, by the end of 2017, although Tesla is notoriously late on actual launch dates, its Model 3 is expected for delivery. Expected to be priced at $35,000—while, according to the company, not making any compromise on range and performance—the Model 3 will be Tesla’s first EV offering targeted to a mass audience. 

tesla-model-3

Premarket version of the Tesla Model 3. (Photo credit: Tesla Motors)

 

To reach that mass audience, Tesla would do well to reach sports audiences.

The Super Bowl is always the most watched television show of any year by a wide margin. The number one rated series in 2016? Sunday Night Football on NBC, despite the NFL’s well publicized ratings drop. The Olympics, Final Four and World Series all easily out-rate most other non-sports shows.

One could imagine the Model 3 being advertised on NFL games, especially since its mass audience (even despite this season’s ratings drop) will be a great fit for the leader in the fast growing/scaling EV market—according to a study by Navigant Research, EV sales are expected to almost triple between 2015 and 2024.

With a $35,000 price point, the Model 3 should also consider the NBA with, compared to the NFL, its hipper, younger, more urban, above-average-but-not-other-worldly income viewer base. If Tesla could get an NBA star or two to drive a Model 3, look out! Add a sprinkle of tennis and/or golf to get higher end viewers who still weren’t able to afford the Roadster and Model S and you have a smart, sports oriented TV plan for the Tesla Model 3.

But we’re not suggesting Tesla only use TV. Upscale millennials will be a key target and many of them have cut the cable cord (ESPN had 99 million subscribers in 2013; that number is down to 89 million in 2016). But, according to Beth Egan, Associate Professor of Advertising at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications, Tesla can reach a good chunk of those cord cutters “where they get sports, via their mobile devices, streaming services, on social media and ‘over-the-(TV set) top’ offerings like Roku and Apple TV.”

This sounds like a great start to a sports-focused media plan for Tesla, except for one tiny problem.

Tesla does not advertise.

Or, at least it hasn’t done so yet.

This can work when you’re a boutique brand, trading on word-of-mouth and Elon Musk’s élan.

But will that ad-free strategy carry the day as Tesla looks to compete with the EVs that are/will soon be on offer from the BMWs, Mercedes Benzes and Acuras of the world, not to mention their internal combustion engine cousins?

Nope.

Tesla will have to advertise if it’s going to  maintain and build its EV leadership status as the category grows and gets more crowded and competitive. Sports will be the perfect venue, both in terms of audience size and demographics, as well as the powerful creative messaging potential.

On the latter point, GSB is happy to provide Tesla with two creative approaches:

  • Testimonial: Tesla would sign athletes who drive Model 3s as spokespeople (future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and punt returner Jordan Norwood of the Denver Broncos are among the athletes who drive Model S.) Some will talk about how cool the car is, how well it performs, how it goes from zero to sixty in less than three seconds. Others will talk about how it will help save the planet for their kids—to go from zero to sixty in less than three seconds
  • Hate-Love: Find players who are loathed by most fans (think Christian Laettner, Kobe Bryant or Tom Brady). Show scenes of fans expressing their venom. Then show the hated stars with their Model 3s, talking about how the car’s greenness is their gift to their fans and the planet. Voilà, the haters turn into devoted fans.

 

NIKE

Per GreenSportsBlog’s interview with Freya Williams, the super-fast Flyknit shoe “cuts waste by 80 percent and makes the shoe 20 percent lighter…it symbolizes the future of sustainable business at scale. “Despite having a strong environmental story to tell, Nike has, to date, chosen not to tell it. 

flyknit

Flyknit by Nike (Photo credit: Nike, Inc.)

 

Ads for Flyknit have, like most Nike ads over the past 45 years, emphasized performance and a cool look. This makes perfect sense as it is Nike’s business to help people to run faster. One 30 second ad hints at the “natural” aspects of the shoe, but Flyknit’s sustainability/climate change-fighting benefits are not spelled out. 

 

30 second ad for Nike’s Flyknit shoe

 

Should Nike add a “Just Green It” spot with a climate change message to its Flyknit ad portfolio?

Absolutely, and here’s why.

  1. Nike can mention Flyknit’s greenness and its strong performance in one 30 second spot. There is enough time (Miller Lite was able to promote “tastes great” and “less filling”) and the two are not mutually exclusive.
  2. A good chunk of potential Flyknit customers should also be in favor of Nike taking positive environmental action. Data from a 2013 Running USA survey indicates that runners are more highly educated and have higher incomes than the average American. The high education/income cohort, in the main, supports action on climate change. And it’s not a stretch to imagine that the Flyknit target audience is more highly educated and has a higher income than the average runner.
  3. Nike ads have taken on social issues (e.g. “If You Let Me Play” campaign which promoted the benefits of access to sports for girls)
  4. Nike has not shied away from controversy (e.g “I’m Not a Role Model” with Charles Barkley).

Taking a stand on climate would break the mold, spark some dialogue about the issue, and generate more sales from sustainability-minded athletes. All of this is perfect for Nike.

What might the ads look like? You know, Wieden + Kennedy and Nike’s other agencies do a phenomenal job. I will leave it to them. 

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GSB News and Notes: FIFA Commits to Climate Neutrality w/ UN; Levi’s Stadium Veggie Rooftop Garden; Zero-Waste Tailgating at Colorado-Boulder

Both the NFL and college football are in full swing. As are the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, and all other major European football—as in soccer—leagues. It is therefore only fitting that our GreenSportsBlog News & Notes column be futbol and football heavy. FIFA, the international governing body of world soccer, in partnership with the UN, committed to climate neutrality by mid-century, as well as to reduce carbon emissions at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Levi’s Stadium, the LEED certified home of the San Francisco 49ers and site of the most recent Super Bowl, became the first NFL stadium to open a rooftop garden. And in a nod to the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the University of Colorado, Boulder, is going where no sports team has gone before by offering fans a Zero-Waste tailgate zone. 

 

FIFA PARTNERS WITH UN TO GO FOR CARBON NEUTRALITY IN ADVANCE OF WORLD CUP 2018; IS PROMISE TO REDUCE EMISSIONS MEANINGFUL?

FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, announced on September 8 that it became the first international sports organization to join the UN climate change secretariat’s Climate Neutral Now initiative. 

Climate Neutral Now represents a global community of corporations, NGOs/non-profits, events and individuals committing to becoming climate neutral by the second half of the 21st century. It launched last September, led by a founding group of corporations, including Microsoft, Sony, the adidas Group and Marks & Spencer. The Athens Marathon became the first major sports event to join.

climate-neutral-now

While mid-century is still 36 years away, FIFA also made a carbon reduction and offsetting pledge for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. As FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura said, “We also commit, as we did in Brazil in 2014, to measuring, reducing and offsetting our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the next edition of the FIFA World Cup…Beyond that and through the power of football, we also aim to inspire greater awareness and best practices in sustainability standards.”

Measuring and offsetting GHG emissions are, of course, both crucial, but what’s really interesting to me is the emissions reduction piece. My original reading of FIFA’s statement led me to believe that FIFA would compare emissions from Russia 2018 against Brazil 2014. But, according to Lindita Xhaferi-Salihu of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), “reduction in the Climate Neutral Now context refers to those actions which will be undertaken by the organization (FIFA) to avoid GHG emissions from being generated.”  Once an organization identifies causes and sources of their emissions, they are in a good position to identify opportunities to reduce some of those emissions.” 

So the reduction to which FIFA is referring has nothing to do with 2014—it is all about reducing emissions for Russia 2018 vs. some to be determined benchmark. Per Ms. Xhaferi-Salihu, “FIFA and its partners will, in the near future, publish a projection of for FIFA World Cup 2018 footprint. Once all emissions sources associated with the event are identified, strategies for reducing these emissions will need to be devised. This is a very important step in Climate Neutral Now initiative.”

They then will measure the actual emissions of the event. So it’s Projected Emissions – Emissions Reductions = Actual Emissions. Those emissions would then be compensated for by credible offsets.

luzhniki-stadium

Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, site of the final game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. FIFA has committed to significant environmental actions and carbon offsets for the 2018 World Cup, on its way to carbon neutrality by mid-century. (Photo credit: Skyscrapercity.com)

While I do understand that FIFA’s Climate Neutral Now pledge refers to measuring, reducing and offsetting Russia 2018 emissions, I do think it would be most meaningful for mega events like the FIFA World Cup and Olympics to come up with some kind of metric(s) that compare emissions in some meaningful fashion, over time (Brazil 2014 vs. Russia 2018.) Of course venues change, number of attendees change, travel miles to-from and travel within country changes. But perhaps there are ways to take these variables into account to come up with a calculation of carbon footprint intensity per World Cup/Olympics/etc? I’m no expert on the math of it all and I know this type of calculation would be laden with all sorts of assumptions. Still I think this type of analysis would allow organizers of mega sports events to know if they are becoming more energy/carbon footprint efficient over time.

 

LEVIS STADIUM OPENS ROOFTOP VEGETABLE GARDEN

Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, set the bar for state-of-the-art green NFL palaces when it opened in 2014. Its green bona fides are legion—click here to read a GreenSportsBlog review from July 2014 to get a sense of how green the stadium is—and it was awarded LEED Gold certification by the US Green Building Council before it even hosted its first event.

While the Niners are expected to near the bottom of the league this season—they’re 1-1 after getting hammered, 46-27, at Carolina on Sunday—Levi’s Stadium continues to build on its “best in green class” reputation as it became the first in the NFL to open a vegetable garden on the roof—Faithful Farm. The Boston Red Sox, with Fenway Farms, were the first pro team in any sport to have a vegetable rooftop garden.

Writing in the September 8 issue of Ruling SportsAlicia Jessop shared that Faithful Farmlocated on the NRG Solar Terrace “spans 4,000 square-feet [and] since July, has been producing tomato, summer squash, pepper, eggplant and herb crops. Nearly 40 rotational crops and herbs have been planted in the garden, with each ingredient being harvested to use in dishes served at Levi’s Stadium.”

faithful-farm

Faithful Farm, the new rooftop garden atop Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, home of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo credit: San Francisco 49ers)

 

As Jessop’s notes, Executive Chef Dinari Brown and staff will provide fans with “truffled summer squash and Dungeness crab risotto, ratatouille nicoise, crispy tempura shishito peppers and shichimi dusted colossal prawns and heirloom tomato and fried eggplant napoleon.” 49ers fans can only hope the team’s play is as tasty as the food.

 

ZERO-WASTE TAILGATING AT U OF COLORADO-BOULDER

The University of Colorado-Boulder has been a leader of the green-sports movement on campus for several years now. Folsom Field, home of Colorado Buffaloes football, has been Zero-Waste^ since 2008. 

But it’s one thing to go Zero-Waste inside a stadium; it’s quite another to do so in the parking lot. CU has done just that by transforming Franklin Field, the beautiful grass field adjacent to the stadium and a centerpiece of Colorado tailgating, into the Aluminum Can Zone Presented by Ball Corporation.

Franklin Field was a happy place to be on September 10 for two reasons: 

  1. The Buffaloes won their home opener with ease, 56-7 over the Idaho State Bengals, and,
  2. Fans were treated, as they will be all season, to a vehicle-free, family-friendly, and zero-waste tented tailgating experience. The area comes complete with recyclable aluminum containers, compostable food ware (courtesy of CU sponsor EcoProducts, featured in this 2015 GreenSportsBlog story), as well as compost and recycling receptacles. Interactive exhibits provide context for tailgaters, highlighting the sustainability leadership of both CU Athletics and Ball.

But, vehicle free? Now I’m sure some fans come to Colorado games by bicycle with their tailgate fixins’ loaded into their backpacks, but many if not most have to drive to campus. What about them? Not to worry, you car-driving-Buffaloes-fans-who-want-to-tailgate-at-Franklin-Field! You can park in the underground garage of the new, solar-powered Indoor Practice Facility adjacent to the Aluminum Can Zone.

folsom

Aerial view of Folsom Field (r), home of University of Colorado Buffaloes football; Franklin Field, site of Zero-Waste, vehicle-free tailgating, to its left (rear-ground); and the solar-powered Indoor Practice Facility in the foreground. (Photo credit: University of Colorado Athletics)

 

Let’s hope that Zero-Waste tailgating soon spreads from Boulder to a college football stadium near you!

^ Zero-Waste = Diverting 90% or more of waste from the landfill.
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