Kicking plastic out of sport
By Hannah Amor, project officer, Environment Agency
Watching my Mum run her first half marathon, aged 8, I was surprised to see everyone throwing their rubbish to the floor as they ran the course. At that age I had already been taught that littering was wrong. Why was it different when you ran a race? Attending rugby matches, aged 12, with my Dad, I was yet again surprised to see the amount of litter left behind in the stadium. Are we also not taught to take our litter away with us?
Fast forward many years and I had the ability to influence the project I worked on in the Plastics and Sustainability team at the Environment Agency. I remembered those childhood experiences. The more I thought, the more research I did, I found that sport could influence thousands of people that may otherwise not engage with environmental issues. Three billion people watched the Tokyo Olympic games 2020. That is a huge platform to showcase sustainability and make it the new norm for people taking part in and watching sport.
With a pressing need to tackle the climate emergency everybody has their part to play. Reducing avoidable plastic consumption is a great stepping stone in the right direction. By minimising resource consumption, we are reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, directly reducing our carbon footprint.
While it may seem daunting at first to think about how you can reduce plastic across a whole venue, everyone must start somewhere. Think small and tackle items one at a time.
A great place to start is by making a pledge to reduce one item of avoidable plastic. This can give you focus and a timescale to work towards. We have teamed up with the Big Plastic Pledge, run by Olympian Hannah Mills, to help everyone achieve their sustainability goals. Make your pledge here.
It is important to remember that everyone is on a sustainability journey, no one is doing it perfectly, but by trying and showing willing you can make a difference. Through sport you can encourage others to make a difference too. Shout about what you’re doing so that fans and participants can come on your journey with you. They may make changes in their own life because of what they’ve seen at their favourite club.
In my role at the Environment Agency, I have helped to produce some fantastic practical guidance to help venues, events and clubs take steps to reduce the amount of avoidable plastic they use. You can find this guidance on the Preventing Plastic Pollution website.
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” Nelson Mandela