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Jolly Green Giants: Baseball’s Little Known Sustainability Award

This time last week, hundreds of thousands lined the streets of San Francisco for the victory parade for the San Francisco Giants. Despite the rain (or perhaps because of it – these guys can add ‘rainmakers’ to their many accolades!), Giants fans cheered along as the winners of a third World Series in the past 5 years made their way on orange and black adorned buses to a reception at City Hall.

Three World Series wins in five years is an incredible achievement by anyone’s measure, but the Giants also hold another MLB record that also deserves some serious props: for the past six consecutive years, the San Francisco Giants have won the MLB Green Glove award. This award is given to the Major League Baseball team who has the highest recycling rate and diverts the most waste from landfills; in 2013 the Giants had a diversion rate of over 86%.

As reported here in ecowatch.com, The Green Glove award came out of the initiative that the MLB began back in 2006 with its alliance with the Natural Resources Defense Council. By establishing the MLB Greening Program, the partners created a central resource to encourage more sustainable best practices across the 30 major league teams.

To date, some fantastic work has been done. A quick visit to the MLB Greening Program website reveals, for example, that the San Diego Padres are now recognized as an official green business, and that Fenway Park (home, of course, to the Boston Red Sox) has a wealth of environmental programs in place including stadium solar panels, solar-powered ‘Big Belly’ waste compactor cans and the use of bio-diesel fuel in all their mowers.

This is all great news, but to me, I think the MLB is missing a trick in not being making more of the work that is happening. For example, I just happened to stumble across the Giants Green Glove record (and it didn’t seem to be widely known to other fans I spoke with). Additionally, in such a highly competitive environment, there’s an opportunity to play off that (pardon the pun) and make things like the Green Glove much more coveted, celebrated and publicized. I’ve often talked before about how a little friendly competition can really help keep focus and get sustainability targets met, and believe that could work well here.

Let’s be honest, recycling rates are never going to conjure up the same headlines and interest as Derek Jeter’s retirement or Madison Bumgarner’s arm, but in a sport that keeps millions enthralled every single year, there’s an opportunity to weave sustainability into the conversation so that eventually acting sustainably is as second nature as the 7th inning stretch! Bring on the 2015 season!

 

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