At the start of last semester, Penn’s Green Campus Partnership expanded its Eco-Reps program into the athletics department. The program — which has already been instituted in college houses, Greek living, Hillel and academic departments and offices — is now working to raise awareness for environmental issues and encourage sustainable behavior in the athletics community.
There are currently 13 Athletic Eco-Reps from different athletic teams, including gymnastics, football, women’s lacrosse, field hockey, rowing, baseball, swimming, soccer, wrestling and fencing.
Eco-Rep Dan Schupsky, who is also the aquatics coordinator and assistant men’s and women’s swimming coach, explained that the Athletics Eco-Reps aim “to act as an internal consulting group and comb through each athletic team to find out how each can be greener.”
The Eco-Reps spent a large portion of last semester planning for the launch of their program. College sophomore Sara Allan, a gymnastics Eco-Rep, said, “Identifying issues and benchmarking were crucial to getting the program off and running, and I am really looking forward to moving forward with the projects we set up this semester.”
The group has brainstormed many ideas, including “an e-waste recycling day at a basketball game, a composting bucket giveaway at a volleyball game or a tree giveaway at a soccer game,” Schupsky said.
One of the Athletics Eco-Reps’ most significant accomplishments this semester has been the ShoeBox Recycling program. The Eco-Reps have placed ShoeBox recycling bins in many locations around campus, including the Pottruck Health and Fitness Center and most men’s locker rooms. People can donate used shoes in these new bins, and the shoes will be repurposed and sold at low prices to shops in open markets around the world.
The Eco-Reps have also been setting up recycling bins on sports team buses.
In addition to their recycling efforts, the Eco-Reps have been collaborating with Penn’s sports nutritionist to develop a more sustainable and healthy food guide for athletes. Similarly, they have been working with the Waste Management and Service committees of the Penn Environmental Group to set up “recycling days” at basketball games.
The Athletic Eco-Reps’ Energy Committee has also been “working with facilities to make sure all excess lights are turned off and to get power strips in the training rooms,” Allan said.
“I am really pleased with the state of the Athletics Eco-Reps program,” said College senior Samantha Lieberman, student coordinator for the Eco-Reps program. “The students are exhibiting a lot of drive and initiative under the direction of Dan Schupsky.”
The group, however, has found it difficult to find time amid its members’ busy schedules, especially considering that all of these Eco-Reps are athletes.
Even with all their accomplishments, the Eco-Reps have many goals for the future. They hope to soon have an Eco-Rep on every varsity team. They also plan to place more recycling bins in and around athletic facilities, to use more LED lighting, to purchase products that are more sustainable and to push the University toward a more efficient use of transportation for athletes.
Schupsky even suggested that teams consider using public transportation for competitions near campus.
On Jan. 29, the Athletics Eco-Reps, along with Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership and the Natural Resources Defense Council, are hosting an event which will focus on athletics as a catalyst for environmental awareness and action. The event will be held in Bodek Lounge at Houston Hall.
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