GSB Eco-Scorecard: Catching Up with Green-Sports Leaders on the Field

Since May 2013, GreenSportsBlog has featured the teams, athletes and events that are helping to lead the sports-greening movement. We haven’t focused on how they’re doing on the field. Until last month, that is. That’s when we launched GSB Eco-Scoreboard: Catching Up with Green-Sports Leaders on the Field, an occasional series highlighting the recent on-field/court results of the greenest teams and athletes. Why? Because if they do well, their green messages will gain a wider audience. Also, it’s fun. And if there’s one thing the climate change/environmental world can use more of — including the Green-Sports niche — is fun. 

 

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks 

The star quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks joined the ranks of eco-athletes when he helped promote “Strawless in Seattle September,” the Lonely Whale Foundation’s (LWF) campaign to get fans to keep plastic out of the oceans by dramatically reducing their plastic straw usage.

Wilson was challenged by actor and LWF co-founder Adrian Grenier on Instagram to #stopsucking — i.e. stop using straws — at least in September. He accepted and then challenged the “12s” — aka rabid Seahawks fans — to do the same: “I accept [Grenier’s] challenge to #stopsucking. Now I’m challenging you 12s! It’s going to take teamwork to save our ocean from plastic pollution.”

The 12s responded, as did many other Seattleites. According to Lonely Whale, in September alone, 2.3 million single-use plastic straws were removed from the city. In fact, the Seahawks, baseball’s Mariners and Major League Soccer’s Sounders all refrained from giving out straws to fans last month.

Yet, Wilson’s impressive success as a #stopsucking pitch man was outdone by his otherworldly performance on the field during Sunday’s thrilling, 41-38 instant classic win over the Houston Texans and their stellar rookie QB DeShaun Watson. While his stat line is phenomenal — a career-high 452 yards passing including 4 touchdowns (TDs) — it was the way Wilson led the Seahawks back, time and again, after Watson would put Houston ahead. He saved his best for last, driving Seattle 80 yards in just three plays with 1:39 left and no timeouts remaining.

 

Wilson Bleacher Report

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson prepares to pass during Sunday’s epic 41-38 win over the Houston Texans in Seattle (Photo credit: Bleacher Report)

 

The Seahawks, now 5-2 and in a first place tie with the LA Rams in the NFC West, host the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

 

Vestas 11th Hour Racing Wins First Ocean Leg of Volvo Ocean Race

Is GreenSportsBlog a good luck charm, or what?

We shared Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s groundbreaking sustainable sailing story just this past Friday and then what happens?

Saturday, the team, led by Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, won the first leg of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, which traveled from Alicante, Spain to Lisbon, in wire-to-wire fashion, by several hours. They stayed ahead of the other seven boats through the Strait of Gibraltar, around the island of Porto Santo, and north to Lisbon.

“Can’t argue with the results,” said skipper Charlie Enright upon finishing in Lisbon. “We prioritized getting the right people and this provides us with a lot of confidence. I can’t say enough about the squad on the boat and the ones on the shore.”

 

Leg 01, Alicante to Lisbon, day xx,  on board Vestas 11th Hour Racing. Photo by James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race. 27 October, 2017

The Vestas 11th Hour Racing team, racing through the Strait of Gibraltar to its way to a  first place finish in Lisbon in the initial leg of the Volvo Ocean Race (Photo credit: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Vestas 11th Hour Racing lived its sustainability ethos on the water just as it does on land. On the first day at sea, the crew partook in Meatless Monday, an international campaign to reduce the impact the meat industry has on the environment. “We are enjoying Mediterranean veggie pasta,” said team director and co-founder Mark Towill. “It is one simple way of lowering our carbon footprint and is part of our commitment to sustainability.”

The team will remain in Lisbon for one week, sharing their commitment to sustainability   with local fans at their interactive Exploration Zone, all the while preparing for the 7,000-mile leg to Cape Town, South Africa, which starts November 6th.

 

Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green Rovers FC (FGR) was finding life in League Two (aka the fourth tier) of English football to be challenging after being promoted from the fifth tier for the first time in their 125+ year history in May.  The Greenest Team in Sports — it has earned that distinction in a myriad of ways, from solar panels on its stadium roof to solar powered “Mo-Bots” used to mow the organic pitch to all vegan-only concession stands — found itself in the dreaded “relegation zone” after an embarrassing 4-0 home drubbing by Newport County AFC on October 14th. The relegation zone means FGR was in one of the bottom two places in the 24-team league standings and, if it ended up there at season’s end in May, it would be relegated back down to the fifth tier.

Good thing for Forest Green Rovers is that, at that point, it had only played 13 of its 46 regular season matches. So there was plenty of time for a turnaround.

That turnaround started in strong fashion on the 17th when FGR won a taut 1-0 struggle on the road at 6th place Coventry City. Even more impressive was the comeback win at Stevenage FC on the 21st. Down 1-0 at halftime, FGR netted two goals within 12 minutes to secure the 2-1 win. The Green Devils extended their run of strong play with a third straight win on Saturday, this one a tidy 2-0 home decision over current relegation zone resident Morecambe FC.

 

FGR Morecambe

Keanu Marsh-Brown (upper right in green and black) scores for Forest Green Rovers in their 2-0 home win over Morecambe FC (Photo credit: Forest Green Rovers FC)

 

The three game winning streak moved Forest Green Rovers from 23rd to 20th place. While hardly safe — there are 30 matches left and FGR is only one point above 23rd — 17th place is only two points away. Next up is an away test at Crawley Town FC on Saturday.

 

Oregon State Beavers 

Oregon State University became a green-sports leader last year with the launch of BAST — the Beaver Athlete Sustainability Team — the first student-athlete run sustainability organization at a Division I school. The now-graduated Samantha Lewis (cross-country) and Jesikah Cavanaugh (swimming) helped steer the group through its infancy and led the establishment of its 3-pronged mission:

  1. Encourage and implement sustainable ideas within the athletic department
  2. Educate our fellow student-athletes about sustainability and environmental issues
  3. Work to engage with the rest of campus and the broader Corvallis community

BAST’s Year One programs included pom-pom and light stick return stations at OSU football games, recycling education tabling at men’s and women’s basketball games, and clear recycling bins — which resulted in increased recycling rates — at baseball games.

According to Cavanaugh, the BAST leadership baton, now in the possession of Marie Guelich (women’s basketball), Sam McKinnon (women’s cross country and track) and Mimi Grosselius (women’s rowing), is “in good hands.”

So how are the Beavers doing on the field/court?

If you’re looking for an on-field/court success story in Corvallis this fall, look no further than the women’s volleyball team. Its 16-8 record includes wins over 14th ranked Washington and 12th ranked Utah. The cross-country team had some early season success, with a second place finish at the Sundogger Invitational in Seattle.

 

OSU volleyball

The Oregon State University women’s volleyball team celebrates their upset over 12th ranked Utah (Photo credit: Mark Hoffman)

 

On the men’s side, the football team is suffering through a 1-7 season and are languishing at the bottom of the Pac-12 North. Things are only slightly better for the men’s soccer team, which sits at 6-11 overall and 3-6 in the Pac-12. The men’s team enjoying the best season thus far this fall is rowing, which earned a strong third place finish at the famed Head of the Charles regatta in Boston.

 


 

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Sustainability Front and Center for the Vestas 11th Hour Racing Team at Start of Volvo Ocean Race In Spain

The Volvo Ocean Race is a nine-month, round-the-world sailing test. Seven boats and crews shoved off from Alicante, Spain on October 22 to start the 2017-18 version. The Vestas 11th Hour Racing Team is going to significant lengths to be the most sustainable team ever to compete in the event. That commitment was on display for fans at the Exploration Zones in the squad’s base in the race village during the run up to the start.

 

The first ocean leg of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, from Alicante, Spain, to Lisbon, Portugal, started on October 22. The 1,450 nautical mile (nm) course is taking the seven competing teams through the Strait of Gibraltar and around the small island of Porto Santo, close to Madeira, before heading directly to the Portuguese capital.

Before the teams set off from Alicante, many thousands of sailing fans visited the race village. And no one should be surprised that sustainability was the focal point of the ground floor Exploration Zone at the home base of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team.

 

 

VESTAS, 11TH HOUR RACING AND THE TEAM: A NATURAL, SUSTAINABLE FIT

After all, Aarhus, Denmark-based Vestas is the only global energy company dedicated exclusively to wind energy. And 11th Hour Racing of Newport, RI is an organization that promotes healthy oceans, in part by making world class sailing racing more sustainable.

One way they do this is through the sponsorship — and greening — of sailing teams in the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race, the world’s most well known sailing contests. 11th Hour Racing was the exclusive Sustainability Partner of Land Rover BAR, Great Britain’s entry in the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda in June.

Now they’ve teamed up with Vestas to sponsor a team that aims not only to win, but also to be the most sustainable team ever to have competed in the Volvo Ocean Race#. 

Environmental sustainability, ocean health and climate change are also core tenets for team director Mark Towill and skipper Charlie Enright, making their partnership with Vestas and 11th Hour Racing a seamless fit. In fact, Mark and Charlie worked with a sustainability consultant to determine the environmental impact of their previous participation in the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race with Team Alvimedica. 

 

Charlie Enright D3O

Charlie Enright, skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Photo credit: D3O)

 

Mark Towill P. Bucktrout, BAS

Mark Towill, team director of Vestas 11th Hour Racing, holding a piece 1,000 year-old ice (Photo credit: P. Bucktrout, BAS)

Those data formed the baseline of what became a robust sustainability plan for the 2017-2018 edition. It covers all aspects of the team’s operations on their 45,000 nautical-miles around-the-world journey. Some of these include: 

  • Calculating its carbon footprint by tracking all travel, accommodations, electricity usage, water consumption and waste. That footprint will be offset at the race’s conclusion
  • Outfitting each team member with a “sustainability kit” that contains refillable water bottle, coffee mug, and bamboo toothbrushes, along with sustainable soap, shampoo, toothpaste and laundry detergent. It also includes a personal water filter to ensure clean, safe drinking water.
  • Eliminating the use of single-use plastics and straws
  • Creating a positive plastic footprint by removing more trash from beach cleanups than they use
  • Using a desalinator for on board water needs, saving an estimated 13,500 one-liter water bottles throughout the race
  • Achieving a 75 percent waste diversion rate
  • Wearing Karün sunglasses made from 100 percent recycled fishing nets and using Aethic sunblock, produced with a unique formula that does not harm coral reefs 
  • Sourcing local, sustainable foods from the countries they visit, including sustainable seafood
  • Pledging to go Meat Free on Mondays both onshore and off
  • Raising awareness of the team’s vision of a cleaner, healthier environment at the race stops and during the race via the Vestas 11th Hour Racing website and the #LeadingSustainability hashtag

 

Vestas 11th Hour Racing screenshot

Screenshot of Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s website’s home page on October 27, featuring a sustainability-themed trivia question

 

SAILING FANS EXPERIENCE THE VESTAS 11TH HOUR RACING SUSTAINABILITY ETHOS AT THE EXPLORATION ZONE

Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s Exploration Zone is an dedicated, immersive educational space where the public could learn about renewable energy and ocean health through the prism of sailing’s most crucial elements; wind and water. From virtual reality goggles to interactive displays, the space was a must-see attraction among Alicante race village visitors, with over 1,000 people experiencing the Exploration Zone each day. 

 

Vestas Expoloration Zone

Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s Exploration Zone at their base in Alicante, Spain; where the Volvo Ocean Race started (Photo credit: Atila Madrona/Vestas 11th Hour Racing)

 

Vestas Exploration Zone 2

Sailing fans outside the entrance to the Vestas 11th Hour Racing Exploration Zone in Alicante, Spain (Photo credit: Atila Madrona/Vestas 11th Hour Racing)

 

The team also brought its sustainability message outside the Race Village, as Vestas 11th Hour Racing sailors and local students met with a local environmental organization, Asociación De Naturalistas Del Sureste (ANSE). They toured ANSE’s wooden sailing vessel, Else, equipped to monitor and protect endangered species, study pollution effects on plants and animals, and implement coastal restoration projects. Hannah Diamond was among the team’s sailors who learned about ANSE’s endeavors: “I was most surprised that here in the Mediterranean there are sperm whales that are bigger than our Volvo Ocean 65 [foot boat].”

 

Vestas ANSE Boat

Members of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing staff on the ANSE boat (Photo credit Atila Madrona/Vestas 11th Hour Racing)

 

Ocean health and the issue of plastic ocean pollution were the themes of the Ocean Summit that took place in Alicante during race week. Mark Towill gave the keynote address to a full house of NGOs, government and the private sector. The Hawaii native reflected on his time at sea and also about how the Volvo Ocean Race can be a massive megaphone for the team’s sustainability messaging: “[We have] a real opportunity to use this race as a platform and we need to make the most of it.”

 

VESTAS 11TH HOUR RACING EXPLORATION ZONES AT ALL BUT TWO RACE STOPS

Sailing fans around the world will be able to visit the Vestas 11th Hour Racing Exploration Zones at all but two of the race stops before the finish in The Hague, Netherlands at the end of June. Here is a list of the stops, race village opening days and the start dates of the next race legs. 

  • Lisbon, Portugal: October 31 –  November 5
  • Cape Town, South Africa: November 24 – December 10
  • Melbourne, Australia: December 27 – January 8, 2018 (NO EXPLORATION ZONE)
  • Hong Kong: January 17 – February 1
  • Guangzhou, China: January 31 – February 5 (NO EXPLORATION ZONE)
  • Hong Kong: January 17 – February 7
  • Auckland, New Zealand: February 24 – March 18
  • Itajaí, Brazil: April 5 – April 22
  • Newport, Rhode Island: May 8 – May 20
  • Cardiff, Wales: May 27 – June 10
  • Gothenburg, Sweden: June 14 – June 21
  • The Hague, Netherlands: June 24 – June 30

 

Mark Towill and Charlie Enright tell the Vestas 11th Hour Racing story in this 2 minute 23 second video

 

# 11th Hour Racing is also providing sustainability consulting services to the Volvo Ocean Race as its Founding Principal Partner in Sustainability

 

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Purpose + Sport: Helping Brands Do Well By Doing Good, Including by Going Green

Neill Duffy has graced the pages of GreenSportsBlog several times, most notably for his work as Sustainability Director of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Since then, he founded and serves as CEO of Purpose + Sport, a purpose-led marketing and sponsorship agency. Neill is very bullish on the future of top brands investing some of their sports sponsorship and advertising dollars on programs that have a social and/or environmental purpose. Neill and Advisory Board member Tony Ponturo, formerly the VP of media and sponsorships at Anheuser-Busch, talked to GreenSportsBlog about the move to purpose that is underway and how the business of sport is, and isn’t yet, embracing this opportunity.

 

GreenSportsBlog: Neill, what do you mean by your company’s name, Purpose + Sport?

Neill Duffy: Well, using the “+” sign was very intentional. I wanted to connote the notion of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

GSB: Kind of like 2 + 2 = 5 and that being the right answer.

ND: Exactly! When you add purpose to sports you get amplified results for all involved.

 

Neill Duffy

Neill Duffy, CEO, Purpose + Sport (Photo credit: Purpose + Sport)

 

GSB: And how did you and Tony connect?

Tony Ponturo: Well, in 2010, the St. Louis Sports Commission and National Sportsmanship Foundation launched the Musial Awards, to honor the athletes, male and female, who exhibit the best in sportsmanship, just like the legendary Cardinals Hall of Fame outfielder from the 1940s-60s, Stan “The Man” Musial. While not a member of the commission at the time, I consulted with them and have remained a fan of their work. Neill and my paths crossed when the National Sportsmanship Foundation asked Neill if he could help take the awards beyond St. Louis to more of a national footprint. They also introduced Neill and I to each other We talked a lot more about socially responsible business and how sports needs to move into this space more aggressively as he was in the process of building Purpose + Sport. So it seemed like a natural fit for me to take on the advisory role earlier, which I did earlier this year.

 

Panturo Tony

Tony Ponturo, Purpose + Sport Advisory Board Member (Photo Credit: Purpose + Sport)

 

GSB: Got it. What a great pairing of expertise. So give our readers the Purpose + Sport elevator pitch…

ND: Happy to. Consumers increasingly expect corporations to stand for something more than just profit…and in turn corporations are responding by embracing purpose as a management philosophy. The business of sport has however been slow to embrace this move and that’s where we come in. We’re all about inspiring the business of sport to do good and do well. We provide purposeful strategic, commercial engagement solutions to sports sponsor, properties and non-profits to help them show up more meaningfully and remain relevant to the fans.

GSB: I guess I buy that, but with a bit of an asterisk. I mean, do consumers really care that the companies from which they buy their sneakers or cars do good?

ND: Absolutely. And the number that do is going up, especially among younger consumers. For example, the 2017 Cone Report found that 78 percent want companies to address important social justice issues and that 87 percent will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about and 76 percent will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs. Corporations are starting to get this. According to the April, 2017 State of Marketing survey from Salesforce.com, about 2/3 of the most successful marketing managers today are “purpose driven.” Companies that make sustainability — in the broadest, “environmental, social and governance” sense of the word — core to their brands really do engender greater brand loyalty among their consumer bases. It’s that simple. The problem, as we see it, is that, until now, sports have lagged the broader market in embracing purpose. In fact, not a single sports team, event or federation makes any list of the most purposeful brands.

GSB: That’s a real shame. What are the reasons, do you think?

ND: Firstly, there is a lot of inertia in the sports business system to continue doing things the way they always have. Why would we want to change something that’s working. Secondly, people have been so caught up of late in chasing the next piece of shiny technology that’s going to enhance the fan experience – the app that tells fans which restroom line is the shortest – that they’ve lost sight of the equal if not greater importance of the message…I’m a great believer in the message being as important if not more important than the medium. But, like I said earlier, that’s changing. Mars, which advertises heavily on sports, recently announced that it is committing $1 billion to a climate-focused messaging campaign. I’ll be surprised if this commitment doesn’t carry through to their sponsorship activation.

GSB: I saw that—it is FANTASTIC. Tony, you were at the center of the sports marketing-sponsorship-advertising nexus for more than two decades at Anheuser-Busch — you were VP of media, sports and entertainment marketing from 1991 to 2008. You ran the Busch Media Group, with 150 people, commanded a $600 million budget, worked with leagues, and teams and the rest. So how come more leading sports sponsors haven’t done the type of thing Mars is doing?

TP: My take is that sports haven’t seen the need just yet — but like Neill is saying, that is changing. One reason they haven’t jumped in may be that most sports fans have been men and, and, this is a generalization, but most male sports fans don’t care that much about a team’s social responsibility profile. They basically care about one thing: wining the game. Women sports fans, on the other hand, are much more socially conscious.

GSB: And since women sports fans, as a cohort, are growing…

TP: …It follows that the number of teams doing good will grow, as will the number of brands sponsoring pro-social programs — no doubt about it. In 2016, I taught at a conference at NYU on “Leadership, Social Responsibility and Sports.” We conducted focus groups there and found that women routinely mentioned a team’s social responsibility profile as being important drivers as to their attitudes about the team and their sponsors. ND: And, given the current US federal government’s hostility to environmental sustainability and other pro social programs, business should step into the breach and take a leadership position on purpose — a big chunk of the public is hungering for this.

GSB:…”Greed is GOOD!” said Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street…

ND: Exactly…that was the ethos back then. Since about 2000, the importance of purpose has been rising in that longitudinal study…People — men and women —are saying in greater numbers that while I need to do well, society also needs to do well. It’s just that sports need to get with the program. We saw something similar in the late adoption of operational sustainability by the teams and leagues which lagged what was happening in the corporate sector by 5-10 years.

GSB: How do you think most fans, male and female, will react purpose-themed sports initiatives.

TP: Fans tend to question “purpose” initiatives at first but, I believe, over the long haul, they’ll get on board.

GSB: So where does Purpose + Sport fit in?

ND: We aim to accelerate the process, deepen the impact and build business for sports sponsors, property owners and non-profits via Purpose-driven programs. We will show them how to bring to life doing good and doing well.

GSB: Can you give some examples?

TP: The Musial Awards are a good place to start. The 2017 version takes place on November 18 with an edited special airing in December. We are helping the Commission increase the awareness and value of the Awards beyond the St. Louis area. Our job is to bring the Awards’ focused, powerful message — that sports has the power to get people to take positive action and that fans and viewers will care — to broadcasters across the country, get them to say “YES!” to airing them. Having a national audience rather than a regional one is so much more appealing to most brands.

 

Musial Award Sign

 

GSB: On the one hand, I imagine that a TV show about athletes who do great things in the community will have broad appeal. On the other, I’m guessing that Stan Musial’s name doesn’t mean much for Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers…

TP: You’re right…People who are under 45 don’t really know Musial, outside of folks in St. Louis. So we’re focusing on making the awards themselves relevant to broadcasters in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, and beyond. Right now, there are around ten awards offered, with the big one being the Lifetime Achievement award.

ND: We’ve been able, by showing the value of and interest in “purpose,” to take the awards from St. Louis only to 39 markets. Our aspiration is to eventually find a national broadcaster to see the value in the awards and for national advertisers/sponsors to do so as well.

GSB: Congratulations on getting to 39 markets. It seems to me that, getting a national broadcaster, along with national advertisers and sponsors, to see the value of the Musial Awards tis a logical next step for Purpose + Sport. Good luck. Let’s move over to Green-Sports specifically. At the 2016 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies in Rio, there was a 5-10 minute vignette on climate change. A global audience of an estimated 1 billion people saw this. NEWS FLASH: THE WORLD DIDN’T STOP SPINNING!! But in North American sports, there hasn’t been anything remotely like that at the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff, etc. Why are sports leagues, even those that are greening aggressively like the NHL, loath to talk about it? Loath to run PSA’s on actual broadcasts of actual games?

ND: Wasn’t what Rio 2016 did great?

GSB: LOVED IT!

ND: I haven’t seen any insights around how viewers reacted to this segment but, for me, it made perfect sense. It was very relevant given the importance of the Amazon to global climate. Kudos to the IOC and Rio 2016 for supporting the decision by the creative directors for the ceremony – Fernando Meirelles, Daniela Thomas and Andrucha Waddington – to include this piece on climate in the ceremony. My sense is that the North American pro and college sports leagues take a very tactical approach to the greening of their events and view it more for its operational efficiency / cost reduction benefits than anything else. This mirrors what happened in the business sector more broadly where sustainability started off being about improving efficiencies before evolving to be viewed as a strategic imperative that could be engage customers and other stakeholders for competitive advantage. My view is that the business of sport is beginning to change their view on the role that environmental sustainability should play in their organizations — and that means telling environmental and climate stories to their audiences and fan bases not just being green behind the scenes. Another important part to his story is the role that the television producers play. Many of the producers involved today across all the major broadcasters have been doing what they do for decades. They have a tried and tested format that has worked for them and they are loathe to alter it. They seem to be prepared to remain relevant and up to date when it comes to the technology they adopt but are much less current as to the messages they convey. As fresh eyes and hearts start to infiltrate the ranks of the producers, I think things will start to change.

 

Opening Ceremonies Rio

Aerial view of the climate change vignette during the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio (Photo credit: Huffington Post)

 

GSB: Do you think teams and leagues are afraid of the politics of environment/green/climate change?

ND: When I worked with the 34th America’s Cup Event Authority in San Francisco (2013), the words “climate change” were taboo within the organization despite the fact that we had made a legally binding commitment to the City of San Francisco that we would deliver a carbon neutral event. At the time, the leadership of the Event Authority was concerned that any discussion around climate change would be polarizing. Two years on from this event, at the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, also in the Bay Area, we spoke openly about reducing our impact on climate change. Why were we able to do so? Thanks to bold leadership that celebrated rather than ran from the fact that Bay Area is a place where the acceptance of climate change is a given. It’s interesting to note that despite the Trump Administration’s position on climate change, Americans believe now more so than at any time in history that global warming is as a result of human activity and that the effects have already begun. This should give leagues, teams, athletes and sponsors the confidence to embrace this issue and I think we will as a result start to see more of them…

GSB: A la Mars…

ND: Exactly…We will see more of them openly aligning with the issue – particularly those where there is a direct link between the climate and the sport involved…winter sports, golf, sailing. In fact, Purpose + Sport recently advised a team that are preparing an entry for the 2021 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race on their purpose strategy. We brokered a partnership between the teams and Conservation International around a purpose very closely aligned to climate change and its impact on ocean health. I think this is a sign of things to come.

GSB: I hope and actually believe that you are right.

 


 

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GreenSportsBlog News and Notes: Meet the New Timberland Sustainable Boot…Same as the Old Boot?; Levi’s Stadium Advanced Stormwater Control System Explained; Musto Apparel Greens Its Game as Part of Volvo Ocean Race Sponsorship

Sustainable apparel and stormwater control systems make up today’s GSB News & Notes column. Outdoor sports leader Timberland just announced the launch of a new sustainable boot. This is great on its face, but it appears the new boot is no greener than one the company brought to market ten years ago. Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers and the first NFL stadium to receive LEED Gold certification, recently announced the details of its innovative stormwater control system. Musto Apparel, a leader in Sailing, Country and Adventure apparel, makes good on its sustainability commitment by reducing its packaging waste as part of its sponsorship of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean race.

 

TIMBERLAND INTRODUCES NEW SUSTAINABLE BOOT; COULD IT HAVE BEEN GREENER THAN ITS PREDECESSOR?

Timberland, the outdoor athletic apparel icon based in Stratham, NH, has been a sustainable business leader for at least the past 10 years. Back in 2007, it introduced its Green Index® label to measure and communicate the environmental impact of its products. Appearing on Timberland shoe boxes and then on other packaging, Green Index labels have the same look and feel as nutrition labeling on food, but instead of measuring calories and fat, Green Index labels look at energy used and waste produced in manufacturing, among other things.

 

Timberland Label

Example of a Timberland Green Index® label

 

Also in 2007, Timberland launched the Original Earthkeepers® boot, a breakthrough in sustainable footwear. Made up of 50 percent recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) linings and laces, 34 percent recycled rubber outsoles and certified leather with a silver rating by the Leather Working Group, Original Earthkeepers warmed the hearts of Green Index label readers.

Fast forward to 2017 and Timberland is again introducing a boot, the Eagle Bay, with an impressive Green Index label. But is its environmental “nutrition” performance that strong? According to a July 23 story in Just Means by Antonio Pasolini, the Eagle Bay ​only matches its Earthkeepers predecessor with​ the same silver-rating from Leather Working Group, the same 50 percent recycled PET linings and 34 percent recycled rubber outsoles.

 

Timberland Just Means

Timberland’s new Eagle Bay boot. (Photo credit: Timberland)

 

Given Timberland’s sustainable bona fides, shouldn’t the company have been able to increase the recycled content of its premier boot lines over a 10 year period? From where I sit, the answer should’ve been a resounding yes.

 

LEVI’S STADIUM’S ADVANCED STORMWATER CONTROL SYSTEM EXPLAINED

Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, made history when it opened in 2014 as it became the first NFL stadium to earn LEED Gold certification. And, while it opened during the midst of the extremely severe California drought, the stadium was built with an elaborate system for stormwater management.

With the drought now over, details about this novel system were recently made public and were laid out in a July 19 Environmental Leader story by Alyssa Danigelis.

Designed by HNTB, Levi’s Stadium is 1.85 million square feet, has a capacity of 68,500 (not including club seats and luxury suites), and approximately 30,000 parking spots. Ms. Danigelis, citing a new case study by stormwater collection treatment company Oldcastle Building Solutions, points out that “all those hard surfaces can generate enormous stormwater runoff…turn[ing] a football field into a muddy swamp…and a parking lot into a floodplain.” That the stadium site sits on land that has a high water table with storm drain lines close to the surface makes stormwater collection even more challenging.

To deal with stormwater in the parking lots, project engineers GHD installed a modular lineup of precast concrete biofiltration units. These contain cells made up of mulch, biofiltration media, and drainage rock. The biofiltration media units drain 5 to 10 inches per hour to be in line with the county’s requirements. According to Ms. Danigelis, “above ground the system resembles normal landscaping, but it allows the water to flow downward, get treated, and then go into an underground pipe. Microbes break down the filtered pollutants while the water irrigates plants and trees nearby.” Altogether, the stadium has six biofiltration systems in parking lots and areas right next to the building.

 

Levi's Stadium Parking Lot The Comeback

Fans stream into Levi’s Stadium from one of the parking lots that benefits from the recently announced stormwater control system. (Photo credit: The Comeback)

 

Ms. Danigelis reports that Oldcastle Building Solutions claims the systems “are self-sustaining for the most part and protect the surrounding areas from contaminated runoff.” This is particularly crucial because the San Tomas Aquino Creek flows right by the stadium and “ultimately feeds the ecologically-sensitive Guadalupe Slough as well as San Francisco Bay.”

 

MUSTO APPAREL IMPROVES ITS PACKAGING-RELATED CARBON FOOTPRINT

Musto, a leader in Sailing, Country and Adventure apparel, recently unveiled its new Official Volvo Ocean Race Merchandise Collection, coinciding with the 2017-2018 edition of around the world sailing race. Sustainability — especially concern about plastic ocean waste — played a key and constant role in the new line’s development.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing, the innovative, sustainability-focused sponsor of the boat manned by Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, challenged Musto to reduce the environmental impact of the plastic packaging used to deliver garments. Musto accepted, committing to find a more sustainable packaging alternative.

It wasn’t easy to make good on the commitment. There were considerable operational challenges on the road to reducing the environmental impacts of packaging while making sure the goods that customers receive remained top quality.

But, working with Vestas 11th Hour Racing and the sustainability team at the Volvo Ocean Race, Musto was able to identify pre-consumer waste as an area where efficiencies could be realized. This is waste generated in a manufacturing plant through the production of carrier bags, such as punch out holes and trimmings from measuring out plastic.

Pre-consumer waste is normally sent to landfill, but it was found that this plastic could be used as part of garment bags for delivery. This now means all Musto garment bags are 100 percent recyclable and are made from 30 percent recycled material.

The Musto manufacturing team also discovered that by adding a single fold to the garment delivery bags, the size could be reduced by 40 percent without any impact on product quality. These two initiatives will reduce the weight of plastic used in the manufacture, packaging and delivery of Musto goods by 70 percent.

Musto has committed to rolling out these innovations for packaging on all product lines in 2018. This is projected to save 11 tons of plastic a year, the equivalent of over 61,000 plastic bottles.

Mark Turner, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, said that “Partnering with Musto to make these changes reflects our commitment to sustainability, particularly, plastic pollution and our program to help ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’.”

 

Mark Turner Ainhoa Sanchez Volvo

Mark Turner, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race. (Photo credit: Ainhoa Sanchez,

 

“We…hope our [sustainable product line] will help raise awareness of ocean health,” added Petra Carran, Head of Marketing at Musto. “We are proud of the sustainability innovations we have made in the past six months and remain committed to further exploring this area in the future.”

 


 

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GSB News and Notes: Sports Sponsor Volvo to Make Only Hybrid and EV Cars; 2017 Final Four Gets Highest Level Green Certification; MLS’ C.J. Sapong Brings Urban Farming to Philadelphia

After a week off, GreenSportsBlog is back with a News & Notes column about a trio of Green-Sports winners: Swedish car maker and sports sponsor Volvo announced it will only be making hybrids and electric vehicles (EV’S) as of the 2019 model year. The 2017 Men’s Final Four in Phoenix received the highest certification possible from the Council for Responsible Sport. And C.J. Sapong of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union teaches kids in the City of Brotherly Love about nutrition. 

 

VOLVO WILL MAKE ONLY HYBRIDS AND EV’S BY 2019; SPORTS FANS NEED TO HEAR ABOUT IT

In a story that should’ve gotten much more attention amidst the Trump-Putin meeting at the G-20, Volvo announced on July 5 that every car it introduces from the 2019 model year (fall 2018) onward will have an electric motor as they will only offer hybrids or electric vehicles (EVs). The Swedish company is the first major carmaker to take that step.

Now, this doesn’t mean Volvo is ditching gasoline and diesel engines—at least not yet—but it does put them on an inexorable path to ultimately phase out and replace internal combustion engines with cleaner and more efficient drivetrains. The next big step for the company is to transform all of its current models into hybrids, as well as launching five EVs between 2019 and 2021.

This is the latest move in the Swedish automaker’s rapid carbon footprint reduction program. Ciprian Florea, writing in the July 5 issue of Top Speed magazine, noted that in 2013, “Volvo described V-8 engines as ‘dinosaurs’ and pledged to eliminate [them] from its lineup. Come 2017, and all new Volvo vehicles feature four-cylinder engines only, some backed by electric motors in plug-in hybrid versions.”

“This is about the customer,” said Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo president and CEO, in a statement. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish.”

 

Samuelsson Volvo

Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo president and CEO (Photo credit: Volvo)

 

To ensure increased demand for electrified cars turns into increased sales for Volvo and not its competitors, the company will need to promote its new hybrid and EV models.

That’s where the company’s sports sponsorships should come into play. Interestingly, in recent years, Volvo has exited the premium car industry’s traditional sponsorship bailiwicks of auto racing and golf, preferring instead to focus on environmentally-friendly sailing along with tennis.

 

Volvo Ocean Race, October 2017-June 2018

The 2017-2018 round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, which has sustainability coursing through its DNA, provides a fantastic platform on which to promote the switch to hybrids and EVs:

  • The 2017-2018 edition has adopted the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) Clean Seas initiative, plastic ocean waste reduction campaign.
  • The race’s commitment to reduce its overall carbon footprint will be on display through educational and science programs at the fan villages at each of the 13 race stops, from its start in Alicante, Spain to its conclusion in The Hague, Netherlands.

 

Volvo Ocean Race

The 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race will start in Alicante, Spain and end in The Hague, Netherlands.

 

The race’s timing and length, from October 2017 to June 2018, as well as its consistent, worldwide broadcast coverage (NBCSN will follow the race in the U.S., Rogers SportsNet in Canada and Sky Sports in the U.K.) offers the company a global, 9-month run up to the start of the 2019 model year (beginning in August-September 2018). One can easily imagine ads touting the Volvo hybrids and EVs, themed to the Volvo Ocean Race, airing on TV and via digital channels during race broadcasts. It would be a huge opportunity missed if such ads don’t run.

 

Volvo Car (Women’s Tennis) Open, March 31-April 8, 2018, Charleston, S.C.

While the Volvo Ocean Race makes only one U.S. stop (Newport, R.I., May, 2018), the company has another stateside sports sponsorship; the Volvo Car Open Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in Charleston, S.C.

The tournament, at least from publicly available information, has not made the environment nor sustainability a priority. That is unfortunate but Volvo can take the green lead at its own tournament by promoting its EVs and hybrids on site. And, more importantly, they can do so during Tennis Channel’s exclusive coverage of the event.

Tennis Channel, as of March, 2017, reaches 52 million U.S. homes and has one of the most affluent audiences of any cable network. Since at least two of its five EVs will be at the high priced end of the car spectrum, Volvo and Tennis Channel will make for a strong marriage. And, as title sponsor, Volvo will have plenty of advertising opportunities during the tournament to stoke demand.

 

2017 MEN’S FINAL FOUR IN PHOENIX EARNS COUNCIL FOR RESPONSIBLE SPORT’S HIGHEST CERTIFICATION

A record crowd of more than 77,000 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, along with an audience of millions more on TV and online, saw the University of North Carolina Tar Heels upend the Gonzaga Bulldogs, 71-65, to win the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship back in April. Likely unknown to all but a few folks at the time was the fact that the 2017 Men’s Final Four was under consideration for the top level of sustainability certification available from the Council for Responsible Sport.

Consideration has now become reality as the Council and Phoenix Local Organizing Committee recently announced that the 2017 NCAA Final Four Basketball Championship garnered the top-level Evergreen Certification for its sustainability efforts and achievements. As long-time readers of GreenSportsBlog know, the Council for Responsible Sport is an Oregon-based not-for-profit organization that provides independent verification of the socially and environmentally responsible work event organizers, from road races to cycling events to Final Fours, are undertaking.

 

UNC Final Four

The University of North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate after winning the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in Glendale, AZ. The 2017 Men’s Final Four recently achieved the top level of sustainability certification (Evergreen) from the Council For Responsible Sport. (Photo credit: David J. Phillip)

 

The Organizing Committee made the Evergreen grade by achieving more than 90 percent of the 61 total best practice standards offered in the Council’s framework across five categories: planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity and community legacy. Here are some highlights:

  • 91 percent of all unavoidable waste was diverted from the landfill via a robust recycling, reuse and compost strategy led by the City of Phoenix Department of Public Works, which has a 40 percent diversion rate goal for Phoenix by 2020.
  • 5,300 Fan Fest, Tip Off Tailgate, and Music Fest visitors took a water saving pledge (and a selfie to #DropBuckets4AZ). Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) pledged to restore 1,000 gallons of water to Arizona Watersheds for each picture taken, resulting in restoring 5.3 million gallons of freshwater into an Arizona ecosystem.
  • All of the electricity used at the Phoenix Convention Center for Fan Fest and at the stadium during the event weekend was sourced from clean energy sources through the purchase of verified Renewable Energy Certificates.
  • An e-waste collection, with the support of LG, resulted in the proper recycling of 925 pounds of electronic waste.

 

PHILADELPHIA UNION’S C.J. SAPONG TEACHES KIDS ABOUT URBAN FARMING, NUTRITION THROUGH “SACRED SEEDS”

C.J. Sapong has been a top performer in Major League Soccer (MLS) over his seven year career. The Philadelphia Union forward won the Rookie of the Year award and, while with Sporting Kansas City, earned MLS and U.S. Open Cups. This season, Sapong is off to his best start ever, with nine goals in his first 18 games.

 

Sapong Goal Eric Hartline

C.J. Sapong of the Philadelphia Union. (Photo credit: Eric Hartline/Goal Magazine)

 

But as impressive as that record is, it is what Sapong has been up to off the pitch that drew GreenSportsBlog’s attention.

Sapong, an avid gardener and a student of hydroponics (the process of growing plants in sand, gravel and/or water, but without soil), is working, with his new nonprofit Sacred Seeds, to help children in Philadelphia reach their potential through improved nutrition. ​He shared his story in a must-read, “as told to” interview with Kevin Koczwara in the June 21st issue of Good Sports. Here are some excerpts:

  • “After some incidents that nearly derailed my career, improving my eating habits helped me get back on the field. My experience opened my eyes to the importance of diet, and as I looked around, I could see kids weren’t getting the nutrients they needed, either. But for them, it wasn’t a choice. In Philadelphia…I could see food deserts depriving kids of their basic needs. So I began brainstorming ideas on how to bring healthy, nutritious food to less-fortunate children [by] empowering kids to take charge of their own diet while getting their hands dirty.”
  • “There is a serious problem in Philadelphia and other major cities with food deserts…where access to fresh fruit and vegetables is nonexistent because of a lack of grocery stores or farmers markets. Usually occurring in impoverished neighborhoods, food deserts have a negative impact on the people living in them…A healthy diet helps quell things like anxiety, depression, lethargy, and behavioral issues. With that in mind, I wanted to combine my research [into micro-greens, hydroponics and aquaculture] to help combat food deserts in Philadelphia.”
  • Sapong partnered with Temple and Drexel universities to launch Sacred Seeds. “We’re implementing hydroponics in the greenhouses…using recycled materials, like used and discarded tires dumped around the city…but want to eventually move towards aquaculture…where plants grow in an environment that is fed by fish that live in a tank under the grow pads, feeding the plants on constant loop while the plants provide nutrients back to the fish. [This allows] the greenhouses [to] almost [fully] maintain themselves while providing children and neighborhoods with nutrient-rich food for their diets.”
  • The Union’s leading goal scorer this season wants kids in Philadelphia to help lead Sacred Seeds. “We need to teach kids [to] feel the positive energy that comes with harvesting something you created. We want them to get their hands dirty, to dig and grow their food. Nothing tastes as good as the food you make and grow.”

 

Sapong Good Seeds

C.J. Sapong of the Philadelphia Union works with Philadelphia kids as part of the Sacred Seeds initiative. (Photo credit: C.J. Sapong via Instagram)

 


 

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GSB News and Notes: Self-Driving Buses at 2018 Winter Olympics; Reebok Pioneers Plant-Based Footwear; Vestas, Leader in Wind, Teams with 11th Hour Racing to Bring Sustainability Message to Volvo Ocean Sailing Race

Innovation is fast becoming a Green-Sports watchword and it undergirds today’s GSB News & Notes: PyeongChang, South Korea, host of the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be the first to feature self-driving buses. Reebok will bring plant-based footwear to the market later this year. And Vestas, the only global energy company dedicated solely to wind, partners with 11th Hour Racing to bring a forward-looking sustainability message to the 2018 Volvo Ocean Sailing Race.

 

 

SELF-DRIVING BUSES AT PYEONGCHANG 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS

South Korean telecommunications company KT Corporation plans to launch its next generation 5G cellular network in 2019. The Official Telecommunications Provider of the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in PyeongChang will use the quadrennial event to pilot the new technology. State-of-the art cell phones, 22nd century virtual reality devices and drone deliveries are only some of the 5G applications that will be on display at the Games.

In concert with the South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and partner companies Samsung Electronics, Ericsson, Nokia and Intel; KT Corporation will unveil self-driving shuttle buses in PyeongChang during the Games.

KT Corp

Self-driving shuttle bus from KT Corporation will be featured during PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games in South Korea. (Photo credit: KT Corporation)

 

Per a story by Yoon Sung-won in the Korea Timesthe self-driving buses were tested Tuesday (Monday in the US) at an event in snowy PyeongChang. “The bus was connected to a control center through the 5G network at the venue and drove itself through a short route. It automatically stopped as a car appeared in front of it and slowed down over a slippery road covered with snow.”

The driverless shuttles, which will bring fans, staff and media from the city center to a variety of Olympics venues, are projected to reduce energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions and accidents vs. their human-driven counterparts.

 

REEBOK TO MAKE SHOES FROM “THINGS THAT GROW”

The athletic shoe and apparel industries are bringing innovative Green-Sports products to market at a breakneck pace. Nike’s new FlyKnit shoes cut waste by 80 percent. adidas recently-launched UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley sneakers are made from 95 percent plastic ocean waste.

Reebok, a division of adidas, will join the greening fray by bringing plant-based footwear to the market later this year; an initiative the company says will create shoes that are “made from things that grow.” The first release will be a shoe that has an upper, the part that goes over the top of the foot, comprised of organic cotton and a base originating from industrially-grown corn (a non-food source). Reebok is partnering with DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products to create the “Cotton + Corn” shoes.

Reebok

Prototype of Reebok Cotton + Corn sneakers, made of plant-based materials. (Photo credit: Reebok)

 

The Cotton + Corn initiative impacts all three phases of the product lifecycle in textbook “Cradle to Cradle” fashion. In the development phase, Reebok uses materials that grow and can be replenished, rather than the petroleum-based materials used today. When the product hits the market, the company has ensured consumers that they won’t have to sacrifice performance and style. Finally, the plant-based materials in the the shoes are compostable at the end of the lifecycle. Reebok says it will take back used sneakers and compost them to grow the materials for the next batch of shoes.

Cotton + Corn

 

Bill McInnis, head of Reebok Future, told Environmental Leader’s Jennifer Hermes on April 5 that the plant-based shoes will be a bit more expensive to create at first than their traditional rubber, polyurethane, and synthetic rubber counterparts: the company is using new materials that it has not used previously and the small quantities at launch limit economies of scale.

The Reebok Future team has been at work on this concept in various forms for over five years. According to McInnis, its focus is on “making more sustainable products and minimizing our environmental impact” that don’t compromise on quality so consumers will not be forced to choose between style, comfort and the environment.

The price of the shoes has not yet been disclosed, according to Boston Business Journal.

 

VESTAS AND 11TH HOUR RACING TEAM UP TO BRING SUSTAINABILITY TO VOLVO OCEAN SAILING RACE

Global wind power company Vestas recently announced a partnership with 11th Hour Racing, to bring a strong sustainability message to the ’round the world 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race by their sponsorship of the American duo of Charlie Enright and Mark Towill. Before that, 11th Hour Racing, a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation which establishes strategic partnerships within the sailing world to promote systemic change for the health of our marine environment, will put sustainability front and center at this summer’s America’s Cup in Bermuda via its sponsorship of Land Rover BAR, the British entrant.

Enright Towill Billy Weiss VOR

Charlie Enright and Mark Towill will bring their sustainability message around the world in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, with the support of Vestas and 11th Hour Racing. (Photo credit: Billy Weiss/VOR)

 

The Vestas-11th Hour Racing-Enright-Towill campaign is a unique platform for the Danish company to promote its vision, which is to be the global leader in sustainable energy solutions.

“Our partnership with 11th Hour Racing sends a very strong signal with two leading players within sustainability combining forces to promote sustainable solutions within wind and water,” said Vestas President and CEO Anders Runevad.

Wendy Schmidt, 11th Hour Racing Co-Founder and President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, added: “Mark and Charlie have been serving as ambassadors for 11th Hour Racing for the past two years, having witnessed first hand during the last Volvo Ocean Race the many ways pollution and plastic debris are destroying ocean life and threatening all of us. Our partnership with Vestas is about inspiring positive change in the way we think about energy and the natural resources of the planet.”

The Vestas-11th Hour Racing sustainability message will start its circumnavigation of the globe with Enright and Towill when the race departs Alicante, Spain in late October. They then will travel 45,000 nautical miles with stops at Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff and Gothenburg before the finish in The Hague.

Volvo Ocean Race Map

Map of 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race (Courtesy Volvo Ocean Race)

 

 


 

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The GSB Interview: Damian Foxall, Bringing Canadians Closer to Nature Through Sports

The Canadian Wildlife Federation is Canada’s largest conservation non-profit, with a mandate to get folks from New Foundland to British Columbia, especially kids, to experience nature up close. According to Recreation Education Manager and world class sailor Damian Foxall, outdoor sports, especially sailing and paddle boating, play key roles in the Federation’s efforts. We chatted with Foxall about his life on the water and how it influenced his work linking sports to conservation.

 

GreenSportsBlog: Damian, first of all, how did you get into sailing racing and, in particular, around-the-world races?

Damian Foxall: I’m sure you can tell from my accent that I’m from Ireland. Grew up in County Kerry and have been on the water, primarily sailing since birth. I also developed an appreciation for nature and the outdoors from that time as Kerry is amazingly beautiful and wild.

GSB: I’ve been there; I know!

DF: Yes, I grew up near Ring of Kerry National Park, near Skelligs Rock. Just spectacular. And it’s a great area for sailing, wind surfing, fishing. I did all of those but sailing was my thing. So I left high school when I was 16, 17 years of age to sail.

GSB: Oh, your parents must’ve loved THAT!

DF: They weren’t too impressed, let’s just say. I thought about studying Marine Biology but the adrenaline rush of sailing took over. Delivered a boat to the Caribbean and never looked back. Spent from about 1987-1995 in the Caribbean sailing and becoming a dive master. Then I left the Caribbean to race in the TransAtlantic circuit, became the first non-Frenchman to win the rookie section in the French sailing circuit. And then I started sailing the around-the-world.

GSB: I cannot fathom that…

DF: Most folks can’t but it is an incredible experience. I was fortunate to win the Volvo Ocean Race as part of an American team in 2008. Also that year, took 90 days to win a 2-handed (two person crew) around-the-world race from Barcelona. Also in 2008, with the late, great Steve Fossett

GSB: The fellow who went around the world in a hot air balloon?

DF: Exactly. We set a record that still stands for the fastest non-stop around-the-world trip—54 days. Also I competed in the Quebec to St. Malo race, the only Canadian professional transatlantic race.

damian-foxall-volvo-ocean-race

Damian Foxall (Photo credit: Volvo Ocean Race)

 

GSB: That’s not a bad year, I’d say. So how did you get to Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Federation?

DF: Well I met my ex-wife in Quebec City so that’s how Canada happened. It turned out that the Canadian Wildlife Federation was involved with the Quebec to St. Malo race and its organizer, Sail Canada, through CWF’s Recreation for Conservation program. Sail Canada’s director at the time, Paddy Boyle, said “You know, you could be a good fit at CWF as they are looking to build up interest in water sports and concern for water stewardship amongst Canadians.” And so not long after that, I was working with CWF.

GSB: How do you bring sports and nature together?

DF: Wild About Sports is our program that links the two. It’s an integral part of our wildlife education efforts. We create workshops that include conservation and nature education as well as what it means to be outdoors and provide them to sailing, paddling and other water sports teachers. Conversely, we bring primary and secondary school kids out into nature and provide core curriculum out there.

wild-about-sports

Wild About Sports connects Canadian kids to water. (Image credit: Canadian Wildlife Foundation)

 

GSB: How does that work?

DF: I like to say “we take math outdoors.” And kids will always learn better when they’re outdoors; the data are staggering. It’s crucial that we get them out there. Inner city, suburban. Also, it’s very important to get kids with ADHD and autism outdoors. But back to the methodology. Let’s take sailing, for example. We use the prism of sailing to teach history, math, geography and more. Wild About Sports is just one of many CWF programs—including Wild Migrations, Leadership and others. In addition to Sail Canada, we’ve partnered with great organizations like Paddle Canada and Sailors for the Sea, which promotes clean regattas.

GSB: Has CWF developed programs for land-based sports?

DF: Yes. CWF created a “nature connections” program that connects cycling and soccer to nature. And we reached out to Cross Country Ski Canada as well and hope to get something going with them soon.

GSB: How about the National Hockey League, given hockey’s status as the #1…and #2…and #3 sports in Canada and the league’s strong commitment to sustainability?

DF: We need to build a partnership with the NHL—it’s very high on our “to do” list. Also high on our list are our efforts to protect marine mammals like the Blue Whale, Baluga Whale and the Humpbacked Whale from accidents during sailing races.

GSB: That sounds brilliant, important and probably not much is known about your programs outside of the sailing world. What does the marine mammal protection program look like?

DF: CWF assists organizers of sailing races to make sure the race course avoids population centers and provide very detailed maps for this purpose. We also instituted a reporting mechanism by which the racers can report collisions with large marine mammals as, despite the very best of plans, these kind of incidents do happen. So a database has been created with the International Whaling Commission. It’s really our, the sailing community’s, duty to accurately report these incidents.

 

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