Firstly, sustainability matters in all parts of life, not just sport. Being fully sustainable is near impossible, but that said, we’re not doing enough. We’re not here to shun anyone for their habits, we just want to inspire people to be a little better day by day.
Sustainability in sport is huge and refers to many areas of the game. It encompasses the kits teams wear, the food sold at grounds, fan transport options on match day, lighting in stadiums, what happens to old football shirts, and much much more. Whether clubs and players have a plan in place to work on their footprint or not, we still need to be doing a little more at every level of football.
The Final Third is a brand that’s driven to change football for good, so in this article, we’re just going to focus on why sustainability matters in football and ways we might be able to make the game do more good than harm to the environment.
Sport at the highest levels is generally seen as a theatrical or religious event where thousands of people travel, consume, and use resources to watch these games. We do this too. What football fan doesn’t. To think we can fix this instantly is silly, but clubs and fans can do more to help kick start change.
Let’s look at lighting for example. On September 19, 2021, Tottenham Hotspur hosted Chelsea at home. What made this fixture special was that Tottenham aimed to make it the worlds first ever ‘net-zero’ game at an elite level, meaning any carbon emissions create on the matchday were reduced as much as possible by using renewable energy where they could, with the remainder offset through natural projects that remove emissions from the atmosphere. Love or hate Spurs, it was a great start.
That said, one game isn’t enough. All clubs at elite levels need to look at implementing this every game. When the big clubs with the loose change work hard to makes these moves, the smaller clubs follow. Even though most clubs might not have the means and knowledge to run at net-zero, clubs like Tottenham Hotspur, Real Betis and Forest Green Rovers can help pave the way.
While it’s great to look at what the elite clubs can do more of, we think it’s extremely important to address ways we can improve the sustainability of sport at the grassroots level.
Grassroots have the easy job. They’re agile and flexible due to their size and their impacts will likely hit harder and trickle down to their players more than elite clubs would trickle down to fans.
Grassroots clubs have a range of quick wins they can implement ASAP. Here’s a little list:
1) Set up an effective recycling/organic waste scheme in your clubs. Offer recycling, garbage and organic bins at games and have them disposed of appropriately.
2) Ban single use plastic at canteens. No more plastic lolly bags.
3) Use organic fertilizers. For those taking care of the pitch, make the switch.
4) Use sustainable kit manufacturers for your future kits. Your players will feel good and play better.5) Donate old kits and equipment to charities that give it to others. No more football gear in landfill.
Implementing even just 1 of these tips is a great way to reduce your clubs impact on the earth. We know change isn’t quick, but it has to start somewhere.
The more clubs get around introducing change, the better impact they’ll have. No one will hate you or your club for wanting to improve.
If we, as a team, can introduce changes for the better we can improve the game as a whole and both teach and allow future generations to play the game we love.