Environmental awareness is everywhere — even in sports.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better start up,” event coordinator Dan Schupsky said.
Schupsky, the head of Penn Athletics Eco-Reps and assistant varsity swim coach, kicked off the Penn Athletics Eco-Reps and Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership dinner Tuesday night, an event promoting the Greening Penn’s Campus Initiative.
These two on-campus groups were joined by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), to promote environmental awareness within the athletic community.
Alice Henly, the coordinator of collegiate sports for the NRDC and keynote speaker at the event, discussed the role of sports at all levels in promoting the ‘greening’ movement.
“Environmentalism is not just about polar bears,” Henly said. “It’s about people.”
Henly spoke about the profound impact of professional sports on American culture, explaining that many Americans are exposed to green initiatives just by promotions at professional sporting events.
“We help to advise the [professional teams] how to implement effective programs such as more efficient water and waste practices, and then publicize them,” Henly said.
The NRDC helps promote the greening movement within professional sports teams while avoiding ‘greenwashing.’
“Greenwashing is when you are saying that you are doing a lot to improve the environment,” Henly said. “But in fact you are overstating your actual accomplishments, and you are not actually benefiting the planet.”
Schupsky continued the talk by discussing the achievements of the Eco-Reps thus far and their plans for the upcoming semester.
“In the fall we got to know each other,” Schupsky said. “We discussed how we can inject ourselves into athletics and what needed to be changed.”
Sophomore gymnast and Eco-Rep Sara Allan also participated as a panel member during the Q&A.
Though excited about the level of interest, the environmental enthusiast said there is still much more that can be done.
“We need help from everybody,” Allan said. “Whether it’s just a supporting role, or actually getting very involved.”
Both Schupsky and Allan detailed several upcoming projects that the group will take on, including putting recycling bins in all the locker rooms and adding more LED lights within the athletics facilities.
“It’s really about being a good neighbor,” Schupsky said.
Since Penn’s recreational facilities are used two and a half times more by non-varsity athletes than their varsity counterparts, promoting green initiatives in these facilities reaches deep into the community.
And Penn is not the only school to go green — the Quakers are joined by both Ivy and non-Ivy universities throughout the country. This event was just the beginning of the greening of Penn’s campus, but it will take the drive of the students to propel it further.
“This was an amazing event,” Henly said. “With excellent turn out in terms of real passion and interest from students.”