Five Things Athletes Can Do Right Now To Help The Environment
Five Things Athletes Can Do Right Now To Help The Environment. Youth sports aren’t about wins and losses; they are essential because of our children’s physical and social development, and we can take that one step further. By encouraging young athletes to become active participants in sustainability we have an incredible opportunity to change the world.
From the use of single-use plastics at game venues to large amounts of energy needed by lighting systems to all the carbon emissions from driving to games and practices, playing sports can contribute to our ever-increasing pollution levels. As parents, coaches, and admins, we must be environmentally responsible when we involve our kids in sports. We should teach them sustainable practices early on so that they can model these behaviors into adulthood. The environment is our legacy to future generations, and protecting it should be a priority now more than ever.
What youth sports contribute to the environment
First, let’s remember the positive ways playing youth sports can have an impact on the environment. In many cases, sports programs will take place in outdoor settings such as parks, fields, and open spaces. These areas often benefit from the upkeep that is required to maintain sporting facilities, including the removal of litter, regular mowing or trimming, and the planting of trees and plants. Additionally, by participating in outdoor sports, young athletes are able to develop a deep appreciation and connection to nature that can encourage a lifetime of environmentally conscious choices. Overall, youth sports can foster a love for the outdoors and a sense of responsibility for protecting the environment for future generations.
So, how can we find a balance between youth sports and sustainability? Here are a few ideas to consider:
Transportation is one of the biggest environmental impacts of youth sports. Parents drive their kids to practices and games, and teams travel to tournaments, often generating a lot of carbon emissions in the process. To reduce the carbon footprint of youth sports, consider alternatives like carpooling, public transportation, or even biking or walking to games and practices. According to a study by the American Public Transportation Association, carpoolers reduce their CO2 emissions by an average of 43%. That’s equal to taking between one and three cars off the road! Carpooling also reduces congestion on roads, which further reduces air pollution.
Single-use plastics like water bottles and snack wrappers can add up quickly at youth sports events. Encouraging kids to bring refillable water bottles and snacks in reusable containers can help reduce waste. Additionally, look for ways to reduce waste at practice facilities, tournaments and events, such as recycling bins and composting programs. Doing this can have a huge positive impact on the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paper recycling alone reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 180 million metric tons in 2019, which is equivalent to taking 39 million cars off the road for a year. Additionally, composting food scraps can help reduce the amount of methane produced by landfills and other forms of waste disposal. By reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, recycling and composting also conserve valuable resources like water, energy, and virgin materials. Therefore, no matter how small, each contribution to recycling and composting can make a big difference in preserving
Choose Eco-Friendly Equipment
Sports equipment can be a significant source of waste and pollution, particularly if it’s made from synthetic materials that don’t biodegrade. Choosing equipment made from sustainable or recycled materials can help reduce the environmental impact of youth sports. There are actually entire brands of sporting equipment that are vegan and biodegradable. They may not be game official, but could work for practicing at home. Every little change can help. Additionally, consider donating old equipment instead of throwing it away, or purchasing used equipment from secondhand stores or online.
Protect Local Eco-sytems
Our kids can play an important role in protecting local ecosystems. They can learn to recognize and respect the habitats of native wildlife, be mindful of the impacts their activities have on natural areas, and spread awareness about ways to protect the environment. Kids can participate in beach cleanups, launch recycling campaigns on their teams, volunteer for park maintenance projects or join a local environmental organization. Even small actions, like picking up litter or planting trees, can make a difference in preserving our planet’s ecosystems. Teaching children to understand the importance of and take care of their local environment is an invaluable lesson that will last them a lifetime.
Here are 5 actionable ideas you can start today
- Have the coach incorporate recycling and clean up efforts after each practice and game.
- Encourage players to bring reusable water bottles to reduce plastic waste.
- Parent can pack and provide them with energy-efficient snacks such as fruits and vegetables.
- Organize community service projects that involve cleaning up local parks or beaches.
- Have club or organization wide carpool days
These activities not only promote environmental awareness but also teamwork and a sense of purpose. By implementing these simple ideas, you can empower your players to become eco-friendly ambassadors both on and off the field. Ultimately, it’s up to us as leaders to take charge, inspiring all those around us—especially young athletes—to pursue responsible action that nurtures sustainability for ourselves and for generations ahead.