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Green Athletics Program

Sustainability is a Team Sport

The Green Athletics Program aims to improve sustainability and waste management practices across the college’s 26 varsity sports teams. The program consists of a network of sustainability liaisons representing each team which meets regularly and facilitates implementing initiatives. The Green Athletics Program identifies team-specific solutions to reducing equipment waste, such as donating tennis balls to local elementary schools. It also leads department-wide initiatives, including reducing game day food waste and recycling used athletic shoes. Ultimately, the Green Athletics Program aims to build a supportive community surrounding sustainability within the college’s athletic department, engaging athletes, coaches, and fans to instill long-lasting sustainability and zero-waste practices. 

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Sustainability Liaison Role 

There are currently 29 sustainability liaisons representing 24 teams. The role of the volunteer sustainability liaison position is to provide feedback on respective teams’ sustainability practices, attend regular Green Athletics meetings, and facilitate the implementation of new initiatives. We held two Green Athletics meetings, one in Spring 2023 and one in Fall 2023, which were widely attended by the liaisons and generated successful dialogues about sustainability within the Athletic Department. 

Team-Specific Solutions

After auditing the college’s 26 varsity sports teams, we learned that many teams use sport-specific pieces of athletic equipment that are difficult to recycle. Some teams, like the men and women’s squash teams who donate used squash balls, already work to minimize their equipment waste. In the spring of 2024, we are implementing a new program to donate used tennis balls to local elementary schools. We plan to reduce other types of equipment waste, such as unusable hockey sticks, going forward. 

Department-Wide Initiatives 

Food Waste 

After auditing the college’s 26 varsity sports teams, we learned that many teams generate excessive food waste on game days after receiving food from our college’s dining hall. To address this issue, we provide an option for teams to request compostable bags to take on the bus on game days. They can use these bags to bring uneaten food back to the dining hall where it can be composted instead of disposing it at the game day facilities. We are also developing a new game day food ordering process. This process will involve athletes filling out a spreadsheet with their game-day food choices, which coaches will use to request a specific quantity of food from the dining hall that matches their team’s demand. Additionally, we are working with the college’s dining hall and nutritionist to tailor the game day food menu to better meet athlete’s needs and reduce the quantity of discarded food.  

Sneaker Recycling 

The Green Athletics program established a sneaker recycling program in coordination with the Amherst College Athletic Department and an external organization called GotSneakers. There are two collection bins in our Athletic Center where athletes may deposit their unwanted athletic shoes in any condition. We then ship these donated shoes to GotSneakers, which recycles them. 

Other Initiatives 

We aim to reduce the amount of waste generated in teams’ locker rooms, including shower products and towels.