Community events provide an excellent opportunity to promote your environmental initiatives, while providing opportunities for the general public to connect with your organization and its values. Community events also allow your organization to develop stronger community ties and give back to the community, all while establishing opportunities for positive press and benefiting the environment.
There are a wide variety of environmentally-related community events that your organization could consider organizing. These events can be a great way to educate and engage with the public on environmental protection. For example:
- Clean Up Day: consider coordinating athletes and staff members to work with local organizations or school groups to clean up an area of the community such as local parks, playgrounds, beaches or other outdoor places. This could involve picking up trash, planting trees or other vegetation, restoring playgrounds, or installing new infrastructure like recycling bins.
- Recycling Drives: consider organizing a recycling drive that encourages members of the community to come and drop off old electronics, used sports gear and/or appliances for recycling (make sure you use e-Stewards-certified recyclers for any electronics recycling). Your drive could incorporate incentives like interactions with athletes or a chance to win tickets or memorabilia.
- Planting Trees: consider coordinating athletes and staff members to work with local organizations or school groups to plant trees.
- Eco-Award Events: consider organizing an event with athletes to award local organizations or students for their commitment to protecting the environment.
- Eco-Friendly Product Giveaways: consider having staff or athletes give away eco-friendly reusable grocery bags in exchange for fans bringing in their single-use plastic bags for recycling, provide fans with energy-efficient light bulbs upon exiting games, and/or hand out magnets with recycling or greener living tips.
Professional Sports Green Team Examples
Many sports leagues and teams have hosted a great variety of community events as part of their commitment to the environment.
Each year during NBA Green Week, for example, the league and teams organize several community events. “NBA Green Week highlights the importance of environmental protection while encouraging fans to do their part by incorporating green habits into their daily lives,” says Kathy Behrens, executive vice president of social responsibility and player programs for the NBA.
In 2010, the NBA partner HP worked with the Miami HEAT, the Houston Rockets, and the Dallas Mavericks on special service projects throughout NBA Green Week, including a beach clean-up event, and refurbishing homes with Rebuilding Together. Also during the 2010 NBA Green Week, the NBA Store in New York City hosted a footwear drive to collect slightly worn athletic shoes for donation to Hoops 4 Hope, a global nonprofit organization teaching life skills through basketball to youth in southern Africa. Customers who brought in shoes received a 20 percent discount on purchases of new athletic shoes.
During the 2011 NBA Green Week, the National Basketball Association and Sprint launched a Facebook application called “Unlimited Acts of Green,” designed to help fans make greener choices in their daily lives. The app included a list of green acts for fans to select from, including cell phone recycling, and displayed the resulting environmental benefits associated with all fan pledges, including amounts of greenhouse gases, electricity, and water saved.
The following team-based community events were also among those incorporated into NBA Green Week 2011:
- The Celtics organized a clean up day with local 8th graders throughout the city of Boston.
- The Chicago Bulls honored its All Star Green Team comprised of students who excel at getting others to participate in recycling and improving environmental issues at their schools on “Go Green Night.”
- The Golden State Warriors and Esurance teamed up with the non-profit organization “Urban Releaf” to plant trees in West Oakland to beautify the area and combat pollutants naturally.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder took part in a trash pick-up at a local Boys & Girls Club with the Mayor and City Council.
- The Orlando Magic partnered with NBA Toyota Project Rebound and “No Fault” on resurfacing two basketball courts using recycled tires.
- New Orleans Hornets staff members worked with “Save the Wetlands” to plant trees along the Gulf Coast and in the marsh areas.
- The Dallas Mavericks gave away reusable grocery bags in exchange for fans bringing in their single-use plastic bags.
- The Phoenix Suns provided fans with energy-efficient light bulbs, reusable grocery/tote bags, green wristbands, and magnets with recycling tips.
Major League Baseball has led teams of volunteers at All-Star Games in using eco-friendly materials to complete projects for local communities, including refurbishing a number of Boys & Girls Clubs and a community garden, rehabilitating a veterans’ home, and constructing playgrounds. These projects typically entail not only refurbishment with features like solar hot water heaters, Forest Stewardship Council certified wood, and low-flow plumbing fixtures, but also include educational components.
For example, in 2009, MLB’s work with a Phoenix veterans’ home included constructing a new onsite greenhouse for use by the facility’s cooking staff, as well as forming horticultural clubs to demonstrate and teach about sustainable food practices.
MLB teams also organize many community events related to environmental protection and awareness, including:
- Players from the Washington Nationals join community volunteers to pick up trash, plant trees and help beautify the Anacostia river area in 2010.
- In 2011 the San Diego Padres partnered with Buster Biofuels to help power local school buses with renewable, non-toxic fuel.
The 2011 All-Star Game, held at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, the National Hockey League incorporated many community green initiatives, including an All-Star Open Street Fair before the All-Star Game where corporate sponsors Honda and North Carolina State University hosted sustainability booths and educated fans about their recent environmental initiatives. The headquarters hotel, Raleigh Marriott City Center, also donated unused toiletries, boxed lunches, packaged food, and clothing to Raleigh Rescue Mission.
NHL teams have also organized many community events related to environmental protection and awareness, including:
- In 2012 the San Jose Sharks partnered with Sims Recycling Solutions to run a community e-waste collection event with attendees gaining access to the team’s pre-game morning skate and raffle tickets for a chance to win exclusive autographed Shark’s merchandise and memorabilia.
- In 2011 the Buffalo Sabres Green Team partnered with non-profit Cell Phones for Soldiers to recycle used phones to provide U.S. troops with free methods of communication with their loved ones.
- NHL League Green Team partnered with Restore Hockey to collect and recycle used equipment donations from the community during the 2012 Winter Classic. All donors were entered to win signed NHL memorabilia, courtesy of the NHL Foundation.
Since Rock and Wrap It Up’s launch in 2003, over 60 professional sports organizations from MLB, the NBA, the NHL, the NFL, and the AFL have participated in their food donation program. For example, all 30 teams in the National Hockey League work with Rock and Wrap it Up to pack up all prepared but unsold concession food on game nights for redistribution to local places of need. Over the course of the initiative’s first full season, NHL Clubs provided 163,000 meals to people in need and diverted 105 tons of food from landfills and incinerators across North America. For this food diversion program, the EPA honored the Boston Bruins with the Environmental Merit Award, and four NHL clubs in the New York area (Region 2) and four NHL clubs in the Midwest (Region 5) with the Environmental Quality Award, the EPA’s highest recognition awarded to the public for environmental protection.