In order to make a difference for the environment, everyone needs to do their part, and soccer leagues are no different. Here are some ways your organization can take better care of the earth and its resources.
1. Create More Sustainable Facilities
There are quite a few soccer leagues that have built sustainable stadiums. From sugarcane seats to wind-powered electricity, some of these stadiums are even completely carbon neutral. This may not be possible for everyone, but you can make improvements on your facilities to ensure they’re more sustainable. Research the best solar panels for your building and location, install more energy-efficient light bulbs, and seal your windows and doors to make the best use of your HVAC systems. These efforts will reduce your carbon footprint, and even though these changes may be more expensive up front, your wallet will thank you for the lower energy bills.
2. Start Better Field Maintenance Practices
Maintaining a soccer field requires a lot of water. While you may not be able to cut down on how often you need to water your fields, creating systems to collect and recycle rainwater to use instead of the city’s water supply will increase your field’s sustainability. You can also experiment with the times of day you water and your irrigation system’s design. Reducing the amount of water that evaporates before it can soak into the grass by watering in the evening and early morning will lower the amount you use. In addition to reducing your field’s water consumption, you should also look into growing the grass organically. The chemicals used to keep the field green and lush often leach into water sources, so reducing the number that you use and opting for more natural options will help protect the people, plants and animals that rely on the water supply.
3. Reduce Waste
Another way your soccer league can be more environmentally friendly is by reducing waste. Provide reusable water bottles for your players, coaches, and staff, and encourage trainers to find and use products with less plastic packaging. (Just make sure you also provide them with the budget to do so, as these are usually more expensive.) Place recycling bins around your facilities and put up easy-to-read signs about how to use them effectively. If you have fans who purchase souvenirs and concessions, make efforts to cut down on plastic lids and straws, and use biodegradable utensils and dishes. It may not seem like much at first, but all of these little efforts will add together to make a greater impact than you think. It will also help establish a culture of caring for the environment within your organization and with your fans.
4. Source Your Food Locally
Purchasing commercial-grade food for your teams and fans uses a shocking amount of fossil fuels. Food has to be packaged and shipped across the country and sometimes multiple continents, which requires gas, oil and water. Combat this by choosing to purchase your food from local farmers and vendors, as this will support sustainable farming practices and support the local economy. It will also provide healthier options for your players. Be prepared to do some extra marketing if you need to raise your concession prices because of this, but you may be surprised at how many people buy into what you’re trying to do.
5. Try Going Paperless
From office operations, to tickets and programs, you might be surprised at how much paper your soccer league goes through each year. Consider creating digital versions of programs that spectators can access by scanning a QR code or only providing digital versions of tickets. This will not only cut down on the amount of paper wasted, but it will allow you to save on printing costs as well.
The Main Takeaway
While creating an environmentally friendly soccer league may sound daunting, it’s important to just jump in and get started somewhere. Even the smallest changes can snowball and make a big impact.