Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Greening DePaul’s Sporting Events

If you have every been to a college sporting event of any type then you have witnessed first hand the mess that is made by spectators and their consumption manufactured goods. My proposal for DePaul University is to take action and make sporting events a zero-waste activity. I have witnessed this on a large scale by the University of Colorado at Boulder with their zero-waste program otherwise referred to as Ralphie’s Green Stampede. The zero-waste program makes an effort to cut carbon emission, reduce waste and recycle at all their home football games played at Folsom Stadium. The program is comprehensive and accounts for transportation, recycling and composting, responsible vendors and eco-friendly merchandise. Vendors that supply cups and food containers for the games are compelled to insure that they are either recyclable or compostable. This program is supported all the way through the athletic department at the University of Colorado and is active message or it’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Bohn. DePaul can learn from this example and may benefit from a having a smaller athletic program.
Sporting events draw in a lot of attention to DePaul from outsiders. Instituting a zero-waste program for sporting events compliments the universities goals of educating people about sustainability as well as demonstrating sound practices. There are various ways to institute these practices and even more ways to promote these ideals during sporting events.

Steps Forward:
-Educating athletic staff on sustainable issues.
-Assessing student body and fan awareness of environmental impact of sporting events.
-Establishment of student led green cheerleaders that promotes green practices at home games.
-Promotion involving athlete wearing green wristbands as a demonstration of support for sustainability.
-Look for sponsorship from green companies.
-Pursue alternative snacks to serve at events that have been sustainably produced.
-Develop strategic plan to make athletic department more green and sustainable.
-Off setting carbon emissions emitted by air-conditioning and heating systems.
-Develop fundraising activities during sporting events.

One of the largest obstacles facing a green movement in athletics is the cost and return on investment. However, DePaul Athletics has some history with developing sustainable practices that have reduced cost. Wish Field on the Lincoln Park Campus utilizes artificial grass or FieldTurf. The turf, which is utilized by softball and soccer, eliminates the need for excessive watering, pesticide use, carbon emission, and is made out of recycled material. Information about the environmental impacts of FieldTurf can be found here.
The Men’s basketball draws the biggest crowd and presents the largest challenge of all other programs due to the fact that they play at the All-State Arena which is not a facility managed by the university. Steps forward do not have to be grandiose or incorporate all athletic programs all at once. According to sustainability in athletic programs is a growing trend and in it is time for DePaul to act in order to maintain and edge. These initiatives to make DePaul’s athletic department has the potential of increasing fan loyalty and represents a missing element in the universities sustainable movement.

-Kevin Nestor

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