Alex Blackburne explores the ugly truth behind the environmental impact of football, and the measures that some in the sport are taking to turn things around.
Football may have the age-old moniker of ‘the beautiful game’ attached to it, but when it comes to being a sustainable sport, the word ‘beautiful’ is arguably the least appropriate of the lot.
With an average of over 35,000 fans attending each Premier League match in the 2010/11 season, and a total of over 13 million fans flocking from far and wide across the country during the campaign, carbon emissions from travelling to football are evidently high.
To combat this, green energy company Ecotricity has set up an Electric Highway – the world’s first national charging network for electric cars, which, if it catches on, will make travelling to away games far more sustainable for fans.
“When it comes to travel, football fans set a fine example in keeping their carbon footprint to a minimum“, said Michael Brunskill, a spokesperson for the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF).
“A significant proportion of fans use public transport, especially trains, and organised supporters’ coaches to get to away games. And in terms of home supporters, the FSF’s 2009 Fans’ Survey showed that the majority of fans travel less than 20 miles to watch their team.”
It’s not just travelling that bumps up a club’s emissions, though – just think of the stadiums with their power-hungry floodlights. It doesn’t help that we live in a ‘healthy and safety gone mad’ culture, as Manchester City found out in 2008, when their plans to build a wind turbine in order to help power their floodlights were blown down because of the fear of icicles falling from the blades.
Manchester City, though, are one of a handful of clubs taking steps to become a more sustainable business. In August this year, they released a sustainable procurement policy, which states, “Manchester City Football Club recognises that the supply of goods and services to the Club should take account of how and where things have been made, the ethical origin and how they will be disposed of”, and lays out various measures in order to achieve this.
On the surface, this is all well and good – a positive step forward for the sport. But the fact that the club is owned by one of the world’s richest men – Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who made his £500 billion fortune in the oil industry in his native United Arab Emirates – the scheme could just be another case of corporate greenwash.
In 2008, Ethical Consumer magazine published a report into the ethical and environmental initiatives of all 20 Premier League clubs. Manchester City was labelled the “most progressive” club, Middlesbrough topped the kit manufacturer ratings and Aston Villa did best for sponsorship.
Rob Harrison, editor of the magazine, admitted surprise at some of the results.
“Football, as an industry, tends to score better on ethics than other industries we review – such as supermarkets, banking or clothes“, he said.
“It is, after all, a potentially sustainable activity with a promising future in a low carbon world.”
If more clubs followed the lead of Ipswich Town, for example, who in 2007 claimed to have “reached the target of becoming the UK’s first Carbon Neutral Football Club“, then the sport as a whole would become globally respected, not only for its power in a sporting capacity, but in an environmentally-responsible one, too.
So, what else can be done?
Well, for starters, players must change their ways. Driving round in fuel-guzzling four-by-fours certainly doesn’t help lighten the environmental impact of the sport.
The former Manchester United and England full back, Gary Neville, is a keen sustainability advocate, building his very own eco-home and co-founding Sustainability in Sport, an organisation aimed to “support the continuing growth of sport within UK communities, whilst reducing the associated environmental impacts“.
Meanwhile, former England goalkeeper, David James, is also well-known for promoting green issues.
These are just two high-profile, well-respected figureheads in the sport that are aiming to make a difference. Footballers are up there with the best when it comes to being role models, so imagine the impact if David Beckham or Wayne Rooney decided to endorse the nature of investing ethically.
An area that lets football down in terms of its reverence in the sector is its finances. Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o recently became the highest paid footballer when he signed for Russian club, Anzhi Makhachkala, in a deal that pays him a reported £17.9m a year after tax.
The debate surrounding footballers’ wages is probably best saved for another feature entirely, but it’s hard to justify paying someone that much for doing something that is essentially a game and not a job.
Changes to football certainly won’t happen overnight. It will take a lot of Gary Nevilles, a lot of Ipswich Towns, and a lot of Ecotricitys to make a real difference.
Then, and only then, will the sport live up to its nickname: the beautiful game.
The FSF welcomes suggestions from Blue & Green Tomorrow readers on how fans could best tackle their environmental footprint, in the context of supporting their team. They’re a member’s organisation so visit their website to join for free and have your say.
Otherwise, if you would like to find out more about how you can set an example to others by investing ethically, ask your financial adviser, if you have one, or complete our online form and we’ll connect you with a specialist ethical adviser.
How Going Green Can Save A Company Money
What is going green?
Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.
The first step in going green
There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.
Making needed changes within the company
After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.
Reducing the common paper waste
Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.
Make money by spreading the word
Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.
1. Weather stripping
If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.
Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.
Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.
2. Programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.
Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!
3. Low-flow water hardware
With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.
Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.
Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.
4. Energy efficient light bulbs
An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.
New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.
5. Installing solar panels
Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.
Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.
From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!
These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.
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