Written by Kim R. Noble
The great thing about building an inclusive green economy is that it allows people from all walks of life and all industries to help grow healthy, sustainable communities. A green economy requires bold leadership from organizers on the ground all the way up to CEO’s in the boardroom. So, imagine my excitement, when I fulfilled a life long dream of visiting the White House to celebrate two of my favorite loves – sports and the environment. “The White House Sports and Sustainability Forum”, held on July 19, 2012, honored sports industry professionals who are leading the way in moving the green economy forward. It’s not every day that you get to go the White House!
This Sports Forum brought together a diverse audience from around the sports industry who are making huge strides in corporate environmental sustainability. All the U.S. major professional sports leagues attended, as well as several athletes, including former hockey players, and even a female NASCAR race driver!
Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, caused me to take notice as she set the tone for the day’s discussion. Jackson said, “It’s not ok to watch from the sidelines,” being a huge sports fan, she encouraged us all to get into the ‘green’ game. She went on to say that although we were there to celebrate innovative sustainable practices in the sports industry, there’s still so much to be done.
After Jackson’s opening remarks, I could hardly contain my excitement when I noticed Pro Bowl NFL Full back Ovie Mughelli sitting across the room! Where’s my Atlanta Falcons jersey when I need it? But I wasn’t there to get an autograph; I was there to meet an athlete doing his part through teaching children to ‘go green’. Mughelli, two-time Pro Bowl NFL Fullback and Planet Green’s Top 5 Eco Athlete, gave the closing remarks.
Mughelli spoke from the heart about why he lives what he believes and shared that his children were his inspiration for his green work. He wants to give them clean air and water today, so that 20 or 30 years from now they will know he made a difference. Through The Ovie Mughelli Foundation, he is touching the lives of children who attend his green sports camps. There, he shares the green message with kids that have no idea what the ‘going green’ issue involves. “They have to deal with other issues like poverty, hunger and bullying; the environment isn’t on their radar”, said Mughelli. He established football camps to address these issues and embeds educational green practices into his program, pretty cleaver!
The football star will soon be teaming up with Green For All to further spread the news about the environment and green jobs. Mughelli solemnly admitted that years from now no one will remember how many touchdowns he caught, but his environmental work will live on. Check out Ovie Mughelli’s blog on the event.
The event showcased Leaders of League Sustainability, Hall of Fame Green Stadiums and Champions of Supply Chain Innovation efforts to highlight the economic and environmental benefits that recycling, water conservation and renewable energy initiatives are providing sports venues—all while educating fans on how to be more environmentally responsible. For example, organizations such as the St. Louis Cardinals and the Portland Trail Blazers have cut their stadium energy use by 24 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Mike Lynch, managing director of Green Innovation for NASCAR spoke about using American-made ethanol fuel in its racecars, this high-performance racing fuel is part of their overall effort to go green. Using this American-made product creates American jobs while also reducing harmful emissions without sacrificing performance.
What an event! The sports industry’s adoption of sustainable practices has been notably successful, and the success stories were truly inspirational. But it doesn’t stop with just one forum. We all can do our part to be environmentally conscious and help move the green economy forward. To see videos from the event, visit https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouseCEQ.