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Green Tips for Recreational and Youth Sports

January 28, 2015

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The movement to green sports has largely focused on the “big dogs,” on professional franchises and big universities, or the organizations which have the resources to make large-scale operational changes. What about all those other athletic organizations out there? The smaller ones – the recreational leagues, parks, schools, and youth centers? What actions can they take to join in the exciting game of greening sports? Here are some actions and resources for smaller organizations that can benefit both the environmental and public health of local facilities and communities.


1. Consider Your Landscape

Most athletic facilities contend with important landscaping decisions: Which plants to use? How much fertilizer? Lawn or turf? Which solutions prevent hazardous pollution from getting into stormwater? Here are some resources that can help you make the right landscaping choices.


2. Tighten Your Waste Game

Even small facilities can improve the ways they manage waste. From implementing composting, to installing more recycling and compost receptacles and signage, to changing the way food gets consumed and tossed – there’s lots to be done.

  • Encourage parents and athletes to bring their own water bottles in lieu of bottled water. Instead of providing individually packaged drinks, provide bulk water or drinks.
  • Green team snacks and concessions. A school or league-wide campaign can help convince parents and coaches to serve compostable food or food with less packaging. When possible, buy locally produced foods to sell at concessions.
  • In locations where compost or recycling collection is not available, the ‘snack parent’ can also be the recycle/compost parent and collect any materials that can be recycled or composted and place in proper bins in their home. The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Greening Advisor boasts a stellar section on pursuing the goal of Zero Waste.
  • Finding a place for extra food can prevent waste and feed those who need it. Rock it and Wrap It Up works with sports organizations and schools to recover food and help feed the hungry.


3. Change Your Lights

Switching to LED lighting can generate huge savings of energy and money. Here’s a convincing argument. The same principles apply to larger scale sports facilities (gyms and fields) that may still be using fluorescent lighting fixtures.

  • The Seattle Mariners just replaced their old metal halide lights with LEDs. The new lights are expected to reduce energy consumption by 60 to 70 percent and last 30 times longer than the old ones. Smaller facilities and schools can replicate these results on a smaller scale. Fans in Seattle can join the Mariners in installing efficient LED lighting. Seattle City Light offers discounts on LED bulbs from certain merchants:
  • Fans outside of Seattle can check the Utility Rebate Program for your state or call your local utility. For more information on green sports and to learn what teams are engaged, visit the EPA Green Sports page.
  • Look for opportunities to use small-scale solar power at kiosks, out houses, to power outdoor scoreboards or lighting, or in other remote locations that currently rely on generator power.

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4. Hold Green Fundraising Events

Green fundraisers can make some green.

  • Set up an e-waste collection event with a local electronics recycler, and have team members ask for donations as guests arrive to drop off e-waste. PPRC produced an Introductory Toolkit for Conducting Community E-Waste Collection Events offers step-by-step advice for planning a successful e-waste drive. Also see the E-Waste Directory.
  • Many cities have banned car washes in most locations due to stormwater concerns. So rather than holding a car wash, work with a local car wash company to sell tickets as a fundraiser. Brown Bear is one company that offers this.
  • For fundraising events involving meals, ensure the proper receptacles are available and well marked for compost, recycle, and waste. If you use one-time-use dishes, purchase compostable or recyclable products.


5. Water Management

Water is an essential and precious natural resource. Here are some ways you can help save it.

  • Wherever possible, convert water fixtures to low flow.
  • Install dual-flush toilets and use clear signage, like “up for liquids, down for solids.”
  • Inspect for and fix leaks in irrigation systems, bathroom fixtures, and elsewhere, in a timely manner. Especially check toilets.
  • Some additional tools for the water conscious can be found at WA Green School’s website. Also, check out the EPA’s WaterSense program for listings of WaterSense approved products.
  • Finally, no facility or organization is too small to consider their stormwater impacts. If you have a parking lot, you likely contribute to stormwater issues in any region. For instance, litter, leaves, and other debris can inhibit stormwater drainage, and/or impact stormwater quality. King County and City of Seattle offer some great resources and suggestions about how to reduce stormwater pollution. Check out King County’s tips to reduce stormwater pollution as well as the City of Seattle’s page on Green Stormwater Infrastructure. Also check out PPRC’s recent guide, Non-Structural Best Management Practices for Sports Venues for some cost-effective ways that you can manage stormwater and prevent pollution from flowing into local waterbodies.


6. Look to the Stars

Just as you can improve your athletic skills by watching professional athletes, you can improve your greening skills by watching professional facilities. A number of professional teams, especially in Seattle and Portland, are implementing model green practices. To see what they’re doing, here are a few great resources:


If you’re considering any of the above actions, you may want to check out PPRC’s Greening Sports page, which provides many more useful resources and links. Also, our Greening Sports Directory connects you straight to contacts that can help you solve any of your greening issues.


– Cyrus Philbrick, Communications Manager

& Michelle Gaither, Industrial Engineer

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