Green Athletics is a group of student athlete leaders committed to promoting sustainable practices within the UVA athletic community, building a connection between sports and environmentalism through acts of engagement, education and service. Under the guidance of the UVA Office for Sustainability, Green Athletics promotes University sustainability goals and initiatives, focusing specifically on efforts in outreach and engagement. Each year, Green Athletics plans and executes a range of projects and events to promote sustainable thought and practice among student athletes, coaches and administrators.
Over the past year, Green Athletics undertook five projects. The first project was an environmental literacy survey. Using the University Sustainability Literacy & Values survey from 2019 as inspiration, Green Athletics created a survey to assess student athlete knowledge, values and behavior in the realm of sustainability. The group found that while students indicated a strong interest in sustainability and a basic understanding of its definition, they were generally unsure about specifics and unaware of UVA Sustainability initiatives. Green Athletics plans to use this data to inform its work going forward and repeat the survey yearly to monitor progress.
The second initiative was a plant-based tabling series. The goal was to educate student athletes about plant-based nutrition and provide them with opportunities to sample healthy treats. Snack offerings included zucchini bread, peanut butter energy balls and banana nut bread. Green Athletics found that student athletes were excited to sample the plant-based snacks and interested in learning more about cooking plant-based meals.
The third project involved two Soles 4 Souls drives. These donation events gave student athletes the opportunity to donate shoes and clothing to those in need. Green Athletics held both events in front of the John Paul Jones Arena over a few days each. The group found that the fall event, when student athletes receive their new gear, was more successful than the spring donation drive.
The fourth project was a sustainable menstrual hygiene education series. In planning for this series, Green Athletics researched menstrual product waste, sustainable alternatives and the impact of menstruation on athletic performance. Based on its research, Green Athletics planned a tabling series during team practice times involving educational graphics and sustainable product giveaways. The goal of these events was to engage women’s teams about the waste associated with traditional feminine products and educate them about sustainable alternatives. The group found that student athletes had a range of reactions to the sustainable menstrual products – some positive and some negative.
The final project was a push for diversion-and-donation during student athlete move-out. Green Athletics partnered with two local organizations, Refurnished Cville and UMovers, to organize transportation from off-Grounds housing to local donation locations. The group set two dates over popular move-out weekends and set times for pick-ups at four different locations. The goal was to divert waste from the landfill in favor of donating items to those in need. Green Athletics is looking forward to increasing communication efforts to get more student athlete participation in future years.
With this being the first year back to normal University functions, Green Athletics spent much of the year regaining momentum and adjusting to in-person events. Considering the challenges associated with this transition, Green Athletics is proud of the work it accomplished. The group successfully managed both its online presence and in-person influence, planning five successful projects to engage, educate and serve the Virginia athletic community.
As the 2022-23 school year approaches, Green Athletics hopes to expand its size and scope. By increasing its membership and sphere of influence, Green Athletics can have both a larger impact on the Virginia athletic community and a greater chance of continued momentum.
Interested in staying updated on Green Athletics happenings? Follow @virginiagreenathletics!
Cameron Bentley is a rising 3rd-year in the College of Arts and Sciences, studying Environmental Thought and Practice. She is a member of the Virginia Women’s Rowing Team and the leader of Green Athletics. Cameron is committed to engaging and educating the UVA athletic community about sustainability. She hopes to inspire other athletes to become environmental advocates.