Mary V. Harvey Looks at What it Means to be Green in the Sports World

gb&d magazine
By Mike Thomas

Former World Cup champion and Gold Medal–winning soccer goalie Mary V. Harvey has been an active part of the American and international sports scenes on and off the field for nearly three decades. She has been environmentally conscious for even longer. Upon returning to the U.S. in 2008 after a five-year stint with FIFA overseas, she became chief operating officer for Women’s Professional Soccer and began looking for her “next opportunity to give back.” After a chat with Green Sports Alliance Executive Director Martin Tull, her search was over; several months later she was on its board. The position enables Harvey, who now serves as principal of Ripple Effect Consulting, to combine her lifelong passions to great effect.

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gb&d: You went from high-profile player to high-profile advocate. How did you become involved in environmental issues?

Harvey: It’s an interesting progression, I suppose. I grew up in Northern California, and two things happened during my early teenage years. One is that that first drought of ’76, ’77. I remember water rationing. I remember putting bricks in the toilet and everybody’s lawns were dying and we were using the laundry water to water plants. I remember my mom painting, with fingernail polish, what 13 gallons looked like on the bathtub. And to this day, I take two-minute showers. You go through something like that, it makes an impression. The other thing that happened growing up is that the family next door, their oldest son became a really early advocate for recycling. So at an early age, I had an awareness of the importance of reusing. 

gb&d: What does it mean to be green in the sports world?   

Harvey: The origins of the green sports movement are a bunch of stadium operators in the Pacific Northwest who are in this environmentally conscious community—Seattle, Portland—and they’re trying to match up the values of the community with how the stadium operates and conducts itself. Because people in these communities come into these stadiums and they don’t see things that they’re used to seeing and they’re like, “What’s going on here?” So there’s an expectation [from] fans and communities, when they go to professional sports [events], that the professional sports organizations are going to mirror the values they have.

gb&d: What is the Green Sports Alliance doing to educate the sports world about the importance of going green? 

Harvey: First of all, we’re a convener. So every year, we convene people who are actors in this space, [from] people who run stadiums and arenas to people who work in front offices at teams or leagues to vendors who participate in compostable food projects [and] sustainably made textiles. So we convene the industry, and that in and of itself provides value to people who are active in this area. Beyond that, we work individually with members and share case studies and make them available. Pretty much soup to nuts what you can do to address any one of a variety of areas. On top of that, there are webinars every month that do a deeper dive into each one of these areas and provide educational material.

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Penn State University Researcher Helps Beaver Stadium & Other Sports Venues Reduce Waste

The University Network
By Susan Chu

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Penn State University’s Beaver Stadium, home to the Nittany Lions football team, is the second largest university stadium in the U.S. It hosts seven home games each year with attendance for each game reaching anywhere from 110,000 to 150,000. Imagine the waste generated in the stadium and the surrounding parking lots, which together occupy 110 acres of land! Fortunately, Judd Michael, professor of business management for natural resources industry at Penn State, has been helping Beaver Stadium reduce waste on game days. He is also using his expertise to help other sports venues, such as Pocono International Raceway and NASCAR Green, find “green” solutions.

The University Network (TUN) spoke with Michael about his efforts to make sports venues more environmentally friendly.

Zero Waste Showcase at Beaver Stadium

Michael’s efforts to reduce waste at Beaver Stadium started in 2013 when he partnered with Green Sports Alliance and NatureWorks to make the President’s and Governmental Affairs suites section of Beaver Stadium a zero waste showcase. The initiative resulted in 95 percent diversion of landfill waste at the first home game in 2013 and 100 percent diversion by the last game. Diversion in 2014 was also 100 percent at each game. If the same initiative were applied to the whole stadium, over 50 tons of waste would be diverted after each game.

Michael also collaborated with various departments at Penn State, including the President’s Office, Office of Donor Relations, Office of Governmental Affairs, Hospitality Services, Intercollegiate Athletics, and Office of Physical Plant, to make the initiative a success.

He relied on more than 30 Penn State students as his zero-waste ambassadors at each game to educate and engage fans on the zero-waste goals. “I have had multiple undergrad and graduate classes working on the campus zero waste projects,” Michael told TUN. “This has been good experience for the students and they have made a tangible impact on operations while gaining valuable skills.”

The initiative introduced the use of eco-friendly cups, utensils, plates, and straws from Ingeo. “Packaging and foodservice items were the first step in achieving our zero waste goals,” said Michael in a statement. “Having Ingeo’s ASTM-certified products allowed us to have confidence that the materials we collected would be compatible with our university composting system. We were also confident that the suites clientele would not be disappointed in the performance of the foodservice items provided by StalkMarket.”

Compostable materials from each game were taken to Penn State’s own composting facility and converted into mulch over time, so it could be used on campus or sold to others. “We are lucky to have our own state-of-the-art composting facility where we can test various materials and send compostables with a very small transportation footprint,” Michael said. He credits NatureWorks and PepsiCo for their contribution to the university’s composting efforts.

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Yale Athletics Attends the Green Sports Alliance Summit

Written by Yale Sustainability

Lindsay Crum and Kevin Discepolo presented at the Green Sports Alliance Conference

Lindsay Crum and Kevin Discepolo presented at the Green Sports Alliance Conference

Staff members from the Yale Office of Sustainability and Yale Athletics attended the Green Sports Alliance Summit held at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, June 27–29. Participation in the conference follows the launch of the Yale Athletics Sustainability Action Plan in 2016, exemplifying a continued dedication to implementing sustainable athletic programming at Yale.

The conference aimed to mobilize action toward positive environmental and social change across communities inside and outside of sports venues. Participants included university staff and faculty, professional sports teams, non-profit organizations, and sports leagues, among other sports-affiliated groups.

Lindsay Crum, Metrics and Program Manager at the Office of Sustainability, moderated and spoke on a panel, which included Kevin Discepolo, Assistant Athletic Director of Facilities, Operations, and Events; a representative from the University of California, Davis; and a representative from the University of Denver. Panelists spoke about the intersection of sustainability and athletics in collegiate sports.

“The conference reinforced the fact that Yale is on the right track with sustainability and athletics, but also reminded us that there is still plenty more to do,” says Crum. “It was an energizing experience, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to sustain this energy as we pursue more projects from the Athletics Sustainability Action Plan.”

In March 2016, the Yale Athletics Sustainability Task Force launched a Sustainability Action Plan that outlined opportunities for energy efficiency, waste reduction, land use efficiencies, and increased communications around sustainability efforts. One of the goals is for Zero Waste Game Days, wherein no litter remains after a game, and everything that is discarded is placed in the appropriate bin.

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