GSB News and Notes: Waste World Cup; Sailors for the Sea’s Christina Thirkell on Selling Green-Sailing Partnerships; Paddle Boarding for the Planet

Welcome to an eclectic GSB News and Notes, featuring the 2017 Waste World Cup, an interview with green-sports partnership seller Christina Thirkell of nonprofit Sailors for the Sea, and the first GSB appearance of Paddle Boarding as eco-athlete Donica Shouse “paddles for the planet.” 

 

UK’S WASTE WORLD CUP HELPS RAISE MONEY FOR WASTE SERVICES IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD

The 2017 Waste World Cup – the British waste industry’s premier football/soccer tournament (they have other, lower level tournaments…who knew?) – takes place on September 1 at the University of Northampton. The event supports nonprofit WasteAid UK in their efforts to raise funds for waste services in developing countries.

According to an August 3 story by Steve Eminton in Let’s Recycle, the “UK’s leading independent dedicated website for businesses, local authorities and community groups involved in recycling and waste management,” this year marks “the 15th anniversary of the mixed-gender waste industry football tournament.”

Reigning champions and British waste management leader Bagnall & Morris returns to defend its crown against 23 challengers in the one-day, six-per-side football fest. Other British waste management industry stalwarts that will try to take down B&M include Hadfield Wood Recyclers, Red Kite Waste, Smart Solutions, and Valpak (not the US coupon company, but a UK environmental compliance firm of the same name.)

 

Bagnall Morris Waste World Cup Let's Recycle

Bagnall & Morris won its first Waste World Cup crown in 2016 and is out to make it two in a row on September 1st (Photo credit: Let’s Recycle/Bagnall & Morris)

 

Set up by waste industry professionals, WasteAid UK’s vision is to create a world with equal access to waste services for all. The nonprofit has an audacious goal: To increase spending on waste management from 0.3% to 3% of all international aid.

Mike Webster, chief executive at WasteAid, told Eminton that: “Yet again we are overwhelmed by the waste sector coming on-side to support better waste management for all. Two billion people don’t have any kind of waste service[s] and we are facing a global crisis, with climate change and marine plastics among the symptoms of our lack of action.

“Our goal is to help people deliver low-cost and local waste management, wherever they are. Adopting a community-scale approach to waste management helps score the hat-trick of improved health, better jobs and a protected environment.”

 

CHRISTINA THIRKELL: SELLING CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS FOR SAILORS FOR THE SEA

GreenSportsBlog: Christina, you are a rare bird — for now, at least — in that you make your living educating and presenting corporations on the benefits of green-themed partnerships/sponsorships on behalf of Sailors for the Sea. How did you carve this niche?

Christina Thirkell:  I am an ocean lover and spent my childhood summers in Maine and in Marblehead, MA where my grandfather owned a marina next to the Boston Yacht Club. So I was hooked on the ocean from age four.

GSB: Did you go into sailing or boating as a career?

CT: No. I gravitated towards the advertising agency world with my fascination with brand marketing. I worked on a broad base of accounts in the sports and active lifestyle categories, including Converse, Danskin Brands and Ben Hogan Golf, just to name a few. Then I pivoted to the client side, picking up responsibilities in addition to marketing, including investor relations and public relations at a leading technology analyst firm, Giga Information Group.

 

Christina Thirkell

Christina Thirkell, partnership consultant for Sailors for the Sea (Photo credit: Christina Thirkell)

 

GSB: WOW! That’s a perfect background for your current role at Sailors for the Sea — a sailor with an appreciation for the ocean who understands what big brands want and need. So did you go into sponsorship sales after your tenure at Giga Information Group?

CT: Not right away. I had a strong desire to work in the non-profit arena. I was introduced to a financial executive in Boston who had started a golf event, raising funds at the time directed for cancer research to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He had started the Expect Miracles Foundation, with the mission of rallying the financial world to support the fight against cancer. It was small operation at the time. No website, no marketing, no staff.

GSB: Whoa…

CT: So I joined with the goal of building the brand, almost from scratch…

GSB: …That’s a big goal!

CT: I developed the website and handled all of the communications, messaging, programing and fundraising development. We took the Foundation from $200,000 to $13 million in nine years and expanded it from Boston to New York City and California. By the time I left the organization, we had over 100 corporate financial sponsors including the big firms such as JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Legg Mason, John Hancock, Northern Trust and American Century Investments.

GSB: Congratulations! You were playing in the big leagues and playing well! So then what happened?

CT: Thank you! A few years ago I started following Sailors for the Sea and was really blown away with their mission…

GSB: …Which is to unite boaters and sailors to protect the ocean…,

CT: Yes…I also found myself excited about their branding, their outstanding programs like Clean Regattas, along with their foothold in the sailing and boating community. I expressed my interest in working with them in any capacity. A few months ago, the President reached out as they were looking for a consultant who could launch their corporate sponsorship and engagement program

GSB: Very cool! How is it going so far? And what kinds of companies are you talking to?

CT: So far, so good. It’s early days, but the reaction has been positive. In early June we developed a robust sponsorship platform that allows companies to showcase their commitment and support to ocean health while simultaneously reaching the sailing, boating and marine market. At the end of June, Sailors for the Sea traveled to the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) Summit in Sacramento and received the GSA’s Environmental Innovator of the Year Award for the Clean Regattas program. Clean Regattas is the only sustainability certification for water-based events and over 1,000 regattas have used our program. In addition, the GSA was an amazing learning platform for us as we saw how a variety of companies are developing and integrating sustainability-specific programs into their overall marketing and business plans. In terms of partnership categories, beyond sailing, boating and auto, we’re also working on the luxury and financial services categories as our demographics are in line with theirs, and many brands within those categories have sponsored sailing and boating initiatives in the past.

 

Sailors For Sea Antigua

Sailors for the Sea’s Caribbean Representative, Renata Goodridge installs a water filling station at Antigua Sailing Week. By supplying water stations, regatta organizers are able to greatly cut down on the single-use plastic water bottles as part of the Clean Regattas program. (Photo credit: Sailors for the Sea)

 

GSB: What about brands in categories that have, shall we say, a green tint? I’m thinking of the Patagonias of the world, the Unilevers.

CT: Absolutely. Corporations that are walking the green walk need trusted, powerful outlets through which to talk the green talk to their key prospects. We can help. And we are trusted — Sailors for the Sea is the only non-profit organization that focuses solely on the boating and sailing communities to engage them in ocean conservation. And those communities are sizable.

GSB: I love it! A trusted voice and a great audience fit for many categories. I know you just started but have you landed any partners?

CT: I’m proud to say we have our first two corporate sponsors on board, MJM Yachts and Helly Hansen – Newport. With both companies, we offer a connection to the boating community that also ties in environmental stewardship and demonstrates their support for ocean health.

GSB: That’s great to hear, as I know that sponsorships are generally not quick sells. I hope and suspect that non-maritime companies — like financial services and auto — will take notice and will be next to come on board.

 

DONICA SHOUSE PADDLE BOARDS FOR THE PLANET

GreenSportsBlog has anointed several environmentally-minded athletes “eco-athletes”. But we’ve never come across an athlete who uses that term to describe her/himself.

Until now.

In an August 17 interview in SUP Magazinethe journal that covers “everything related to stand-up paddling,” Donica Shouse told Rebecca Parsons that she is indeed an “eco-athlete” who “draws joy from competition, but above all else she paddles for the planet.” Shouse walks the green walk as she “rides solely for eco-conscious companies, adheres to a plant-based diet, and runs a sustainably minded company alongside her husband.”

You couldn’t script a better path to eco-athlete-dom. Shouse, who grew up in Oregon, told SUP that she her family had a beach cabin where she learned to surf. And, by college, “I was active in Surfrider and elected surf club president at Oregon State where I got my first taste of environmentalism and the effects of our choices. I graduated with a B.S in Natural Resource Education and minor in Environmental Science. All my favorite things growing up fit perfectly into my love of surfing and protecting the ocean.”

Shouse visited Hawaii in 2003 and has never left, marrying her husband Abraham. They started Paddle Hawaii in their backyard.

 

Donica Shouse Paddle Boarding Abraham

Donica Shouse, paddling for the planet in Hawaii (Photo credit: Abraham Shouse)

 

More from the Sup Magazine interview: “My husband now has a wood shop in Kona. He recently partnered with Sustainable Surf to certify each piece as part of the eco board project. We hand harvest bamboo shafts and then Abraham crafts them into functional art—paddles, surfboards, skateboards and more. Paddle Hawaii has become an umbrella that also includes our photo/ video business, Star Shot Media. We have a ton of fun capturing peoples’ special moments, be that in love, adventure, or both.

 


 

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GSB News and Notes: Sustainability Effort for Tokyo 2020 Builds on Past Games; Aardvark Paper Straws at Stadiums and Arenas; Philadelphia Eagles Amp Up Green Efforts

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are still more than three years away but sustainability planning is in high gear. GSB spoke with Takeo Tanaka, the man leading Tokyo 2020’s greening efforts. Aardvark brings its straws made from paper to sports stadiums and arenas, lessening the amount of plastic ocean waste in the process. And the Philadelphia Eagles, one of the early Green-Sports adapters, take their waste management to the next level with the installation of an Eco-Safe food digester.

 

TOKYO 2020 LOOKS TO TAKE OLYMPIC SUSTAINABILITY TO NEXT LEVEL

Takeo Tanaka, the Senior Director of Sustainability for the Organising Committee of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, has some audacious greening goals for the Games that begin on July 24, 2020.

“We are building a substantive, five-pillar approach to sustainability,” said Mr. Tanaka. “The five pillars—Climate change, resource management, natural environment and biodiversity, human rights, labor and fair business practices, and involvement, cooperation and communications—are the framework that will earn us ISO 20121 certification* and allow us to take the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 sustainability to its highest level.”

 

Tokyo 2020 SUS team

Takeo Tanaka (center, front), Senior Director of Sustainability for the Organising Committee of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and the sustainability team. (Photo credit: Organising Committee of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games)

 

Three years out, the pillars are taking shape:

  • Tokyo 2020’s Olympic Stadium, as well as all new permanent indoor venues, a big indoor temporary venue — the Olympic Gymnastic Centre — along with the Olympic and Paralympic Village, were all designed and are being built with the expectation of achieving CASBEE^ certification,
  • Energy efficient, low emission vehicles (hybrids and EVs) will be used throughout the Games.
  • The Organising Committee is pursuing CO2 emission reductions in the distribution process by procuring seasonal foods and other goods that are produced close to Tokyo.
  • The sustainability team is working closely with the communications group on an innovative program that encourages Japanese citizens in all 47 prefectures (states) to donate old mobile phones and small electric devices in collection boxes. 100 percent of the two tons of gold, silver and bronze for the more than 5,000 medals that will be awarded at the 2020 Games will be made from the transformed e-waste. “Unfortunately, not many people in Japan know about the richness and the potential of ‘urban mines,’ said Mr. Tanaka. “I believe that this project will raise awareness of the existence and the value of useful metals buried in the urban environment. People will hopefully become aware of the usefulness of recycling and this will leave a positive legacy for society.”
    • The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project Towards an Innovative Future for All is being promoted to the public via a popular TV program and a public service announcement campaign from the governors of Tokyo.

 

Tokyo Olympic Stadium

Artist’s rendering of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, expected to receive CASBEE green building certification. (Credit: Dezeen.com)

 

The Tokyo 2020 Sustainability Communications plan — to the media and the public — is still taking shape. Suffice to say, Mr. Tanaka and his team took notes on what their Rio 2016 counterparts did, from the “sustainability booth” at the Media Press Center, to sustainability-themed venue tours for the media, to the climate change vignette that was featured during the Opening Ceremonies.

According to Mr. Tanaka, the five pillars approach ensures that sustainability will always be a core component of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games DNA: “Not only is every division of the Organising Committee being trained on the sustainability initiatives, top management is involved as well. Sustainability is an agenda item at every Senior Directors meeting and sustainability-themed blogs have been posted to build awareness and interest among Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games employees and ultimately, volunteers.”

What about corporate sponsors, you ask? The Organising Committee created a Corporate Sustainability Network for Tokyo 2020 corporate sponsors, both local and worldwide. So far 37 of the 55 local sponsors have joined the network, which aims to engage corporate stakeholders, from employees to customers to management in sustainable initiatives surrounding the Games.

Oh, there’s one more thing you should know about Mr. Tanaka. Before leading the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games sustainability charge, he had a 30-year career at Tokyo’s electric company, where he worked on environmental issues and the preservation of Japan’s national parks. He’s also worked with the Nature Conservancy and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development on climate change and biodiversity issues.

Suffice to say, sustainability is in good hands at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

 

AARDVARK PAPER STRAWS HELP GREEN STADIUMS AND ARENAS

This Green-Sports story goes back aways, to 1888.

It was then a man named Marvin Stone invented the original paper straw and patented his idea. That patent became the foundation for Precision Products Group, Inc.  — the same company that manufactures Aardvark®, The Original Paper Straw, today.

Over time, as cheaper plastic straws came to dominate the category, the paper straw fell by the wayside. And, while straws are low interest items for consumers, the environmental costs add up. Consider that there are 1 billion plastic straws used each day, 500 million alone in North America. After their brief, one-time-use lives are over, where do they end up?  Either in landfills or oceans.

In 2007, in response to a growing anti-plastic movement, the main buyers of plastic straws in the U.S. — restaurants, hospitals, and other industries, including sports — began to look for more sustainable, eco-friendly options.

As a leading U.S. manufacturer of small-size cylindrical tubing solutions, Precision Products Group looked to create a straw that was less environmentally toxic. The answer was in their archives: Marvin Stone’s original 1888 patent for the first paper straw. Putting a modern spin on Stone’s original concept, Aardvark created a straw using 100 percent sustainable and renewable papers that was more sustainable and durable than any other paper straw ever made.  According to David Rhodes, Aardvark’s Global Business Manager, initially, “Aardvark was the only paper straw being made, but cheap and inferior China straws that get soggy and fall apart quickly entered into the market. Today, Aardvark remains the only quality and safe paper straw and the only [one that’s] Made in the USA.”

 

David Rhodes

David Rhodes, Aardvark’s Global Business Manager (Photo credit: David Rhodes)

 

The sports industry is of great interest to Aardvark, with its high profile, passionate, and thirsty fan bases. The company has made some impressive inroads over the past two years. “We work with ‘Party Goods’ retailers like Amscan and Creative Converting to offer paper straws with team logos emblazoned on them,” related Mr. Rhodes. “Right now, they have licenses with all 32 NFL teams and most of the schools in the Power 5 conferences. This is an ideal product for tailgaters. Fans can buy packages of, say, Green Bay Packers Aardvark straws at Packer retail stores and via Amazon. And, because fan loyalty is so strong, the margins also can be strong for the retailer.”

Jets straws

New York Jets paper straws from Aardvark (Photo credit: Aardvark)

 

But sports retail is a much smaller potential market for Aardvark than the concessions stands and restaurants at a ballpark or arena — as the latter represents 99 percent of straw usage. Cost has been a drag on Aardvark’s ability to crack that market. “Plastic straws cost about 0.5¢ each, whereas Aardvark paper straws cost 1.5¢ without printing on them and 2.0¢ with printing,” said Mr. Rhodes. “Looking at sports stadiums and arenas, since concessionaires give straws away, going to our product simply adds cost.”

Mr. Rhodes sees a potentially elegant solution to the thorny cost problem: Selling a combined, retail-concession paper straw combination to teams: “We can show teams that the profit they will realize from selling Aardvark straws at retail will offset the increased costs from giving our straws away at concession stands. And with retail-concession being a wash, we make the case that reductions in trash transportation costs and enhanced branding from going green make Aardvark a clear winner.”

According to Mr. Rhodes, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the about-to-open home of the Atlanta Falcons and MLS’ Atlanta United F.C, and CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks and MLS’ Seattle Sounders, are dueling to be the first facility to offer Aardvark straws at the concession stand.

Finally, GreenSportsBlog readers may recall our March 2017 interview with Olivia and Carter Ries, the teenage founders of nonprofit One More Generation (OMG!) and its One Less Straw campaign, designed to dramatically reduce the number of straws used and thus lessen plastic ocean waste. I asked Mr. Rhodes if he saw OMG as a competitor or potential partner.

Not surprisingly, he chose the latter: “We partner with and support OMG and other [plastic ocean waste] advocate groups, including Lonely Whale Foundation, Plastic Pollution Coalition, The Last Plastic Straw, 5 Gyres, Hannah 4 Change, Surfrider Foundation, Sailors for the Sea, etc. Our long term goal is to assist in reducing the overall amount of straw usage by 50 percent and then converting at least 10 percent of the remaining straws to paper. [Thus,] we suggest restaurant owners and employees only offer a straw [and a paper one at that] if a customer specifically requests one.”

Aardvark found that restaurants that offer straws only on demand see reductions in straw consumption of up to 50 percent, diminishing the increased cost of switching to paper straws and allowing restaurants to save money while saving the planet.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES EXPAND GO GREEN EFFORTS WITH INSTALLATION OF ECO-SAFE DIGESTER®

The Philadelphia Eagles, a green-sports early adapter, recently announced they will team up with environmental partner, Delaware-based Waste Masters Solutions (WMS), on the installation of a BioHiTech Global Eco-Safe Digester®, a food waste digester and data analytics platform at Lincoln Financial Field. The unit uses a proprietary bacteria formula to break down pre- and post-consumer food scraps via aerobic digestion and send them through sewer systems with no residual solids.

 

BioHiTech Eco-Safe

BioHiTech Global’s Eco-Safe Digesters will be installed Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, and will be managed and maintained by Waste Master Solutions. (Photo credit: BioHiTech Global)

 

This move builds upon the September 2016 installation of a waste digester at the team’s NovaCare Complex practice facility to help decompose pre-consumer food waste. Since then, more than nine tons (18,100 pounds) of food waste has been decomposed and, thus, diverted from landfills.

Cleantech leader BioHiTech Global – which develops and deploys innovative and disruptive waste management technologies like the Eco-Safe Digester – will handle, in collaboration with WMS, the design, construction and operation of the analytics platform.

Eagles minority owner Christina Weiss Lurie helped spearhead the team’s Go Green program in 2003 with the opening of an environmentally forward (especially for that time) Lincoln Financial Field. The club’s partnership with WMS is just the latest element of its comprehensive environmental program that also features on-site solar and small scale wind (eagle talon-shaped turbines spin atop the stadium), recycling and composting, energy and water conservation, reforestation and sustainability partnerships, as well as fan education programs.

 

Christina Weiss Lurie

Christina Weiss Lurie, minority owner, Philadelphia Eagles. (Photo credit: Christina Weiss Lurie)

 

* ISO 2012-1 is the global standard for sustainable events.
^ CASBEE is the Japanese green building certification that is somewhat akin to LEED.

 

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