By Rich Neher

Image from Rich Neher/LA Tennis Examiner

Image from Rich Neher/LA Tennis Examiner

“To solve the serious environmental problems facing our planet, we need to shift our culture toward more sustainable practices. Sports are hugely influential and can play a significant role in causing a ‘green’ ripple effect of enormous proportions, encouraging industries and consumers alike to improve the choices they make every day. I’m proud to have co-founded GreenSlam and help launch the greening of the US Open and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with NRDC, and I applaud the work they are doing to green professional sports.” — Tennis Legend, Billie Jean King

Environmental Responsibility for a Sustainable Future
Prior to 2008 The USTA Board was tasked with lessening the environmental footprint and helping to create a sustainable future for the largest-attended annual sporting event in the world, the US Open Tennis Championships. Quote from the USTA web site: “Since the inception of the initiative in 2008, the USTA has diverted 1,300 tons of waste through recycling and composting, saved 2,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, offset enough electricity to power over 1,000 homes for one year, recycled 2.2 million plastic bottles, and entertained 2.4 million fans who have arrived via mass transit. Each year the US Open increases the amount of waste it diverts from landfills and last year’s event had the greatest impact diverting over 60% of its waste through recycling and composting.”

“Our courts may be blue, but we’re thinking green”
That’s the environmental pledge of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), which hosts more than 700,000 fans each year during the two weeks of the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Just by switching the paper used to print programs to 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, the USTA saved 2,123 gallons of wastewater and avoided emitting 441 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases and 129 pounds of solid waste.

Leading the charge for the USTA as it relates to the US Open Green Initiative is Lauren Davis, Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives at headquarters in White Plains, NY. The former Litigation Case Manager for an international law firm, joined the USTA in 2006 as Senior Paralegal in the Professional Tennis Department and became Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives in 2010.

Davis says that the US Open “is focusing on showing fans that attend live tennis events that the reuse practices in place really pay off.” Examples: Waste generated from the previous year is recycled as compost to feed flowers on the Open grounds. Tennis ball cans become lanyards the following year. Seventy thousand spent tennis balls are strategically reused.

Davis suggests that the tennis fans “know what they are supposed to be doing and they know it’s important not only for the US Open, but also for the entire country.”

Read the full article and Q&A with Lauren Davis here.