Northwest sports teams commit to deepening green efforts

Mar 21, 2011

Major league sports teams in the Northwest have been recycling, composting food waste, cutting their power use and more.

Consider the Mariners. From 2006-2009, the team:

  • reduced natural gas use by 60 percent
  • reduced electricity use by 30 percent
  • reduced water use by 15 percent

Now, the Mariners and other teams from Seattle, Portland and Vancouver B.C. are forming a non-profit with the goal of spreading the green gospel to stadiums nationwide.

Last year, Mariners games at Seattle’s Safeco Field generated well over 1,000 tons of waste. The team’s aggressive recycling program reduced the amount that went to the landfill by 70 percent.  

Scott Jenkins, Mariners' vice president of ballpark operations says it's part of a larger change. 

Within sports, and within society in general, we've always been a culture  of consumption. And what we really need to do is instill a culture of conservation. It's always been cool to consume bigger, faster, stronger. But there's a smarter way to consume, where you consume less ... It should be cool to conserve.

Jenkins also chairs the board of the newly-formed Green Sports Alliance. The group is developing a set of best practices for teams to reduce their environmental footprint across the board.

Allen Hershkowitz, with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says his environmental group is advising the teams on ways to walk the green talk.

We're looking at their energy sources, we're looking at the chemicals they're using on the field, we're looking at the food they sell. We have a lot of folks doing a lot of reviews to make sure than when Major League Baseball or the NFL or the National Hockey League say that they're greening, that it's authentic. 

It’s also good business.  The Mariners say their conservation efforts are saving them $500,000 a year.

Founding members of the Green Sports Alliance are the Mariners, the Seahawks, the Sounders FC and the Seattle Storm, as well as the Portland Trailblazers and the Vancouver Canucks.