Going green while going for the gold at the Olympics

The countdown is on — the London 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics Games are only days away.

This major sporting event is enjoyed by tens of thousands of spectators in the host city and is watched by hundreds of millions of fans on TVs around the world demonstrating what a source of pride the event is for a nation and its athletes.

The slogan for this year’s Games is “Inspire a Generation.”  This slogan is truly fitting — not only do these Games promise to inspire a generation of people to be active and joyful, but also to inspire people around the world with its strong commitment to environmentalism.

This year, the Olympics Committee has worked hard to minimize the environmental impacts the Games traditionally have on the host country.  There are a variety of projects taking place to ensure that the environment remains a priority in this huge event.

The 2012 London Olympics will be the first car-free Games.  This means that people will be getting to the Games on foot, by mass transit, no- or low-emission vehicles and cycling.  There will be over 7,000 secure bicycle spots.

They will also be focusing on providing local food through small vendors that are Fairtrade certified in an effort to reduce transportation costs related to shipping food.  Interestingly, the world’s largest McDonalds is located in the middle of Olympic park.

As well, new infrastructure built for the Games has incorporated reclaimed and recycled materials that will leave a legacy for future generations.

Thought has even gone into team uniforms.  Team Canada’s track and field athletes will be wearing something really special.  Not only will they look stylish, but these uniforms have been specially designed by Nike to incorporate up to 82% polyester fabric made from recycled PET plastic bottles like plastic water bottles.

We too can be inspired by the Games’ environmental efforts by making our sporting activities more sustainable.  When participating in team sports, try carpooling.  Just think: a softball team with 15-20 players would generate 15-20 cars of traffic.  Carpooling will reduce gas emissions that are harmful to the environment.

And imagine the number of single-use water bottles that are used at one practice or game.  Ensure your team brings reusable water bottles.  If you do have to use single-use water bottles, bring them home and recycle them in your Blue Box.

If a parent or teammate is providing a halftime snack, make sure they bring fresh snacks in reusable containers.  Think freshly cut orange slices.  Collect all the rinds — they can be put in your GreenCart at home!  Our colleagues at HaltonParents have some great tips about sports nutrition.

And don’t forget to pass along old jerseys. Players are bound to come and go, so ask that they give their jerseys back for future teammates.

If you are planning a major sporting event like a road race in Halton, remember to consider providing Blue Boxes and GreenCarts to collect recycling and organics.  Halton Region provides waste diversion services to a number of community events throughout the year.

Whether we are competing at the Olympics or are just a week-end warrior, we can all be inspired to protect our earth now and for future generations.

Team Canada’s track and field uniforms are made in part from recycled plastic bottles

About joycewychan

I'm Joyce Chan, the Waste Management Program Coordinator for Halton Region where I am involved with project management. I am an avid skier and by using the Blue Box and GreenCart we can all help keep winter white.
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