Sport: how to reduce carbon footprint

Entre les différents moyens de transport pour trouver le spot parfait, la planche et la combi non-recyclables et la wax polluante, le surf a un lourd bilan écologique... Une aberration pour un sport qui se veut proche de la nature !

Between the different means of transport to find the perfect spot, the board and non-polluting and recyclable combi wax, surfing has a heavy ecological balance … An aberration for a sport that wants to be close to nature!
(Photo EpicStockMedia)

Golf, tennis and hiking are not so green that one grows. If we practice these physical activities without adopting good conduct, their ecological footprint can indeed be heavy.

This is not to mention the impact of sports events and championships for their organization, often deploy large resources.

Meeting with Didier Lehénaff, designer of Eco-Games and President of the Association “SVPlanète” (a Green Sport for my Planet) that says “this is not the sport itself that is polluting but more how to practice it. ”

Climbing and hiking: to preserve the local ecosystem

The main environmental risk of climbing or hiking is its impacts potential ecosystem and the local habitat. Hiking in natural places called always the question of respect for biodiversity and natural heritage. To perform these activities safely, “we must know and respect his civic duties to the ecosystem,” says Francis, informed and passionate hiker, author of the blog The golden rule for hiking is all about walking (and stay) on marked trails. Turning off the roads or go off the beaten degrades the planet by causing irreversible soil erosion.

The flora is also very important. It is essential to respect the trees, not to burn anything on their bark and do not pick flowers, mushrooms or berries in his way, especially in a nature reserve or a national park. Finally, do not move the stones as you cross below it nestles a whole microcosm essential nature. If you hike with your dog, hold the leash well during your run and do not let him walk anywhere. Do not attract animals with food as this may change their diet and most importantly, observe silence so as not to frighten the local wildlife. Not least, it is forbidden to make a fire in the wilderness.

Golf: the green on the dock

Sport synonymous with great green expanses, golf is an activity that consumes a lot of water and chemicals at construction land and for the maintenance of the green. Unfortunately, this is not all: irrigation (done half of the year), regular mowing and the impact of the production of the golfer’s equipment is far from virtuous to the environment. Maintenance of a golf necessarily require the use of astronomical amounts of fertilizer, pesticides and water. Indeed, certain land use up to 5000 m³ of water per day.

Also, clippings surfaces cause a high CO2 pollution from mowers and movement of flora and fauna. “Practitioners and managers of this practice must therefore find a compromise between the strict constraints inherent in the maintenance of golf areas and the preservation of the natural environment that welcomes” says Didier Lehénaff.


Tennis: recycle bullets

With 14 million tennis balls used each year in the hexagon, tennis wastes are important: a tennis ball offers thousands of years to degrade in nature. An ecological aberration given that its life is up to two years. Fortunately, actions have changed a bit since the deal particularly since 2009, the French Tennis Federation launched the “yellow ball” operation, an ecological project, sustainable and inclusive. This is to collect used balls with clubs and to value by transforming them into sports surfaces.

Indeed, gathered 40,000 bales can produce 100 m² coating. In total, 1.6 million used tennis balls were collected from leagues to then be transformed by the company COVED rubber granules, this grinding being carried out in an appropriate and environmentally friendly processing center. Finally, this year, the environmental impact of the French Open reduction efforts are driven by the dynamism promoted by the organization in Paris of the COP21 (Climate Paris 2015) in December: “Sport has a role to play in the fight against climate change. It embraces the entire company, we have a duty to be responsible and sustainable if we want France to be. “Says Thierry Braillard, Secretary of State for Sport.

Water Sports, prefer local spots

Water sports such as diving and surfing are also far be exemplary. The trip to go to a heavenly place? Heavy ecological balance. Often in search of the best waves, the surfer does not hesitate to deploy all the stops to cross the planet in search of the best spot. Boards, wax, combinations … the surfer equipment also leaves behind a well remember polluting the environment. Indeed, the surfboard is made up of highly polluting and dangerous materials that generate during processing, 100% non-recycled waste, and the evaporation of liters of chemical solvents such as acetone.

Acknowledging this impact, some brands have found sustainable alternatives and cleaner. This is the case of the company that uses Notox instead of glass fiber, flax fiber, requiring less energy and very little fertilizer during its production. Manufacturing combinations also has a heavy impact on the environment, particularly linked to the origin of the raw materials such as neoprene, pure petroleum derivative and therefore not 100% recyclable.

Some combinations comprise only 40% neoprene and 60% Yulex® a rubber made from guayule plant very low in water consumption, which requires no pesticide and whose latex is renewable without substances allergens. Finally, wax, essential product to any surfer is composed of products derived from petrochemicals (such as paraffin) and obtained from crude oil. It seems that the classic wax is gradually replaced by a soy wax, 100% natural ingredients and biodegradable (waxes, oils, rosin …) or beeswax and the Landes pine resin (as the Bio-Wax GreenFi or brands).

Material and equipment: renting instead of buying

Regarding sports equipment, manufacture of shoes or her outfit has not in itself a heavy impact on the planet, but its negative impacts associated with raw materials from upstream and chemicals used in their production or processing (leather and plastics among others). Didier Lehénaff, “whatever its subject, the better for sporting manager then renting its equipment, especially if his occasional practice remains, so to favor the pooling of resources and the sustainability of the material.”

Moreover, some regional councils invest in sports equipment and put it into rental. This is the case of SVPlanète Association (A green sport for my planet), chaired by Didier LEHENAFF, which organizes every year a collection of sports equipment which are then redistributed to the poor of Brazil or Tunisia. Finally, there are also recycling centers that repair sports equipment, in order to extend their life or convert them to other uses.

If you must buy your equipment, try to favor less-impact materials, namely, eco-designed materials or products which have obtained an environmental certification or label.

Eco-Games, sustainable and unifying events  –

Nearly 90% of emissions of greenhouse gases generated by a sporting event come from displacement that it entails. If we add the waste, bottles or containers dumped in nature, over-consumption of water and energy, or the millions of goodies distributed, the planet takes a big hit!

Eco-Games born in 2004 in the state of Bahia in Brazil, are a concept of eco-friendly sports events dedicated to the environment and sustainable development. The first French Eco-Games were held in 2007 in Normandy, Burgundy and Ile-de-France. Today, a dozen regional Eco-Games are organized every year in France. Maximizing the use of existing local resources and their systematic pooling, preference to local partnerships, limited greenwashing, promote personal and social development of participants rather than their performances are all principles advocated by, among others, those games.

To see if your city soon organize a sustainable sport event, visit the Eco-Games site.

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