The National Hockey League has picked the Pittsburgh Penguin’s brand new LEED Gold hockey stadium as the “perfect place” to kick off its new recycling campaign, which will focus on getting tailgaters to recycle their cans and bottles when they attend the 2011 NHL Winter Classic game today. It’s yet another example of the leadership role that major league sports are taking to claim the American civic landscape as a platform for sustainable choices.
Pittsburgh Sports and Recycling
The Penguins are one-third of Pittsburgh’s major league franchises, rounded out by the Steelers and the Pirates, and all three teams have stepped up their sustainability game in recent years. The Steelers’s new pre-game recycling activities included treating tailgaters to a solar powered tire pump, and the Pirates are into the third year of a comprehensive sustainability program that includes food waste composting (Marc Gunther of CNN notes that the Pirates’ ownership is from the same publishing family that gave us Mother Earth News, by the way).
The city’s sports teams are not operating in a vacuum, by any means. Local aluminum industry giant (and emerging solar energy powerhouse) Alcoa is heavily involved the new recycling activities, which are taking place in the context of a long-running sustainability effort that involves the city government and a consortium of environmental groups, businesses, educational institutions and non-profits. The goal is to promote long term economic growth without a repeat of the devastating environmental problems that plagued the city during the height of its industrial period.
Local Leadership and the National Picture
As for any prospect of meaningful national action on climate change, many members of the incoming Congress continue to advocate for high-risk fossil fuels and insist on pussyfooting around sustainability issues, as if they’re afraid to talk with the American public like grownups. Fortunately, if we can’t look to our legislative leaders for leadership, at least the American sports industry is more than willing to pick up the ball.
Image: Penguins by HighlandBlade on flickr.com.
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