My husband loves college football and last weekend was his weekend of non-stop college football madness. At one point, he didn’t know which channel to flip to and which game to watch. But as he screamed with every passe and touch down, all I could think of was all the toxic plastic that went into making the astro turf that these kids were rolling around in and all the plastic helmets that are crashing and thumping.
Can you tell I’m not much of a football fan? He claims I’m a “Killjoy”.
Well, that might be true because I’m not much of a baseball fan either as he was getting excited with watching the Yankees last night, all I could think of was how much electricity was being used to light up the stadium and how much pesticide was on the field. And all these sports generating tons of garbage, plastic and non-plastic, left by the fans.
Then, I started to wonder, is there a sport that’s eco friendly?
Here is a short list of sports I came up with and their environmental impacts.
- Field Sports (Soccer, Baseball, Golf, La Crosse,) – too much toxic pesticide, herbicides, and fertilizers to keep these lawns nicely groomed and manicured. In addition, 30 million new balls are made every year, 2.5 billion gallons of water/day are used to water golf courses and 2 million barrels of oil per day of energy is used to light up the stadiums at nights.
- Indoor Court Sports (Basketball, Fencing, Racquetball) – requires polished floors with polyurethane or other similar toxic finish with volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) creating indoor pollution, and again, lighting which requires energy.
- Outdoor Sports (Skiing, Skateboarding, Rock Climbing, BMX) – equipments that require fossil fuel to make, mostly non-recyclable, enormous amount of electrical energy and water required to operate ski resorts, skateboarding parks that are made with non-recyclable materials, and direct physical impact on the natural resources by climbers, skiers, and bikers.
- Water Sports (Scuba Diving, Boating, Surfing, Sailing) – polluting the waterways, disturbing the natural habitat underwater, most of the equipment that touch water is made of fiberglass and polyurethane foam, which are non-recyclable and the dangerous VOC’s from the epoxies. Also, most of the clothes for water sports is made with petroleum based material.
- Road Sports (Running, Cycling, Rollerblading, Walking) – there are minimum amount of plastic involved in making these equipments but clothing is still in question as none of the moisture wicking material is made with all natural fibers for sports. One good aspect of this type of sports is that there are no energy needed to operate a facility, no specific surface need to be manufactured or maintained to accommodate these athletes.
Of course I left out many more but these are the ones that immediately came to mind.
So, as I grumbled about this disheartening list, my husband stated, “You see, no sports are eco friendly so I’ll stick with couch surfing which is eco-friendly.”
Not so fast, honey. I discovered that there are more and more companies that are manufacturing eco friendly sports gear, clothing, and equipments. And there are operators of resorts that are using alternative energy sources to be more green.
Here are just a glimmer of glimpses of ways in which sports and recreation industry is embracing the environment as it moves towards the green direction.
- MLB seeks to be more eco-friendly but adopting new methods for managing the stadiums.
- Skiing green: check here for a guide to skiing and snowboarding in eco friendly ways
- For recycled surf boards, check resulf.org
- For snowboards made with sustainable methods check venturesnowboards.
- List of eco friendly golf courses, check greenopia.
And finally, for a comprehensive guide to green outdoor sports, check planetgreen.
As a side note to my husband – couch surfing being green? Let’s see. TV is made with non-recyclable plastic, requires electricity to be turned on, snack foods (even if they are locally grown organic carrots) were produced by using energy, comfortable room temperature also requires electricity or natural gas, the couch was manufactured using up precious natural resources, as well as treated with toxic stain and fire resistant chemicals.
So no such luck dear, couch surfing is not so eco friendly either.
Me thinks we should hit the road and go for a long walk…the “Killjoy” that I am.