Greening the Planet, One Race At A Time
Here’s an idea we love: tap into the athletes among us – by nature a passionate, dedicated group – and use their events and venues to advance environmental awareness.
Athletes for a Fit Planet is working to do just that — providing environmentally-responsible solutions for race and event organizers looking to reduce their event waste and emissions. Below, Chief Green Officer Bruce Rayner shares his experience, inspiration and vision for the future of environmental awareness in the athletic world:
I launched Athletes for a Fit Planet early in 2008. I had an epiphany at a race last year – after the race I was carrying around an empty water bottle and looking for a recycling bin, but there were none. All they had were trash cans piled full of plastic water bottles, paper and food waste. It occurred to me then that there was a need for someone to offer a service to help race organizers re-think their events so the environment would not have to suffer. I’m an avid triathlete and runner, and so my focus with Athletes for a Fit Planet is on these events for now — but I’m also branching out to include charity walks and student groups. When you think about it, whenever people gather together for an activity – be it a school, a race or a concert – there’s the opportunity to integrate environmentally responsible practices.
The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive. I get emails just about every day from athletes who say they are grateful for the work we’re doing, which is very motivating. Most of the race directors and organizers I talk to like what we’re doing and they want to do the right thing – but for them, it’s about cost and benefit. They’re not willing to invest more in the products and services they purchase for their events. I have to convince them that it’s an investment in their own future; if they don’t start down the eco-path now, they may not be here in a couple of years when it becomes the standard way to operate. When you look at the big picture, it’s not a significant investment.
My vision for success would be the widespread adoption of an international environmental standard for certifying athletic events. Without a standard for defining what is acceptable eco-practice, you’re going to have a lot of green wash – which we are already seeing today. Athletes for a Fit Planet is working with a standards organization – The Council for Responsible Sport - that will be launching the standard criteria in early 2009. Beyond a standard, I’d like to see the day come when athletes demand that event organizers and the companies that support them are environmentally responsible. It should be second nature that we do all we can to protect and repair the land, water and air. Unfortunately, today it’s not second nature – FitPlanet is helping to educate and inform athletes, race directors and the companies that support them so that day will come sooner rather than later.
Chief Green Officer
Athletes for a Fit Planet