The National Hockey League’s Efforts To Go Green

As a big hockey fan, I was interested to find out about some of the initiatives the National Hockey League has created to make a positive impact outside of the sport. “Hockey Is For Everyone,” a program promoting equality and diversity in the game of hockey, as well as “Hockey Fights Cancer,” are two fantastic community out-reach programs. There is, however, one program I’d especially like to point out: “NHL Green.” When it came to my favourite sport, I had never really thought about the different ways teams could reduce their ecological impact. Turns out there’s quite a few.

For example, the NHL has their very own Food Recovery Program. At games, lots of people enjoy snacking on a hot dog or hamburger while watching the game, but what happens with all the leftover food in the kitchens? With the Recovery Program, the league ensures that prepared but untouched meals from all 30 of the leagues arenas are saved and sent to local shelters – 163,000 meals in 2010, in fact. This amounted to 105 tonnes of food waste being diverted from land fills.

NHL Green has also launched the “Gallons for Goals” initiative, a commitment to restore 1000 gallons of water to rivers that have run dry for every goal scored this season. That means that the Toronto Maple Leafs will have contributed to over 200,000 gallons of water, and Markham-native Steven Stamkos will have personally accounted for over 50,000 gallons of water (the guy’s a goal scoring machine!). Not only is it a great initiative, but it’s also an interesting way to raise awareness of freshwater scarcity with teams and fans.

NHL Green has many other policies and initiatives in place, such as auditing arenas for their energy consumption and efficiency, collecting old hockey gear from fans to be re-used and recycled, and launching tailgate party recycling initiatives. NHL Green has been recognized for its efforts with the 2011 Sport for the Environment Award, so let’s hope its good example encourages other sports leagues to keep up with their own efforts in environmental sustainability.

-Phil

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