Penn continues to advance its commitment to promoting a sustainable university culture by encouraging environmental consciousness within Penn’s athletic community. This year Penn’s membership in The Green Sports Alliance (GSA) and the emergence of the Athletics Eco-Reps program demonstrate how we are building sustainable practices in athletic settings.
Penn formally committed itself to greening its athletic community by joining GSA. GSA is a non-profit organization that helps sports teams, venues, and leagues enhance their environmental performance. Through communication and networking with other members of GSA, Penn has received invaluable guidance on developing athletics sustainability initiatives. The Penn Quakers is not only the first member of the Ivy League, but also the first university on the East Coast to join GSA.
According to Julian Goresko, sustainability associate, “Athletics also gives us a platform for leadership and awareness, since so many people pay attention to sports. The partnership between GCP and Penn Athletics will keep growing, and it’s valuable to have the GSA membership as a formal showing of our commitment.”
Another crucial element in the GCP-Penn Athletics partnership is the Fall 2012 launch of the Athletics Eco-Reps program. Managed by sustainability staff in FRES and geared towards student athletes, this is the newest branch of the Penn Eco-Reps environmental leadership program. The Athletics Eco-Reps develop inter-team programs to help members of Penn’s athletic communities adopt more sustainable lifestyles. In the 2012-13 academic year, there were 13 Athletics Eco-Reps, representing 11 of Penn’s varsity teams. Eco-Reps raise awareness of environmental issues and aim to impact the sustainable practices of individuals across campus.
In April, the Athletics Eco-Reps successfully made Penn Relays more environmentally friendly by sponsoring and encouraging reduction and reuse. They conducted a pilot program that reduced water bottle usage and organized booths that promoted sustainability education. As the largest track meet in the world, Penn Athletics hosted over 100,000 athletes and spectators and 13,000 water bottles are typically distributed during the 3-day event. The Athletics Eco-Reps’ successfully reduced usage by offering athletes reusable cups and tap water for refilling bottles. Additionally, the Athletics Eco-Reps organized booths outside of the stadium for athletes and spectators to take a sustainability quiz and win a reusable water bottle from GCP.