Sadey Rodriguez, UVA Office for Sustainability Green Athletics Intern

Over the past year, many of our lives have taken a detour. Most notably, a global pandemic stormed the world, shifting the way we live, work, and socialize. For most student-athletes, this meant no more practice or game days, but for others the pandemic brought on even heavier challenges. COVID-19 has intensified many ongoing systemic racial and social injustices that disproportionately affect BIPOC communities. On top of the threats posed by COVID-19 on these communities, the climate crisis will, and already is, amplifying racial and social disparities.  

In previous years, the student-athlete run group focused on waste minimization efforts, but considering recent events, the Green Athletics group has prioritized tackling topics of intersectional sustainability, which advocate for both the protection of people and the planet.

Here are some initiatives Green Athletics has taken on this year:

A 4x4 grid, alternating between pictures of athletes (both male and female), pictures of food, and squares with the names of the recipes. Text is written in white and sample recipes include peanut butter granola and savory oatmeal.
Student athlete plant-based recipe features

SHARING PLANT-BASED RECIPES FROM STUDENT-ATHLETES

Through Instagram, Green Athletics shared 8 different plant-based recipes from student athletes to promote meals that are lower in green-house gas emissions and still provide nutritional value, which is essential for athletic performance.

Tall orange box with blue geometric design and the words "soles for souls"placed on the sidewalk. In front of the box are a pair of navy blue and white Nike sneakers and a gray Nike t-shirt that says "Virginia Soccer" on it.
Soles4Souls (S4S) donation drive set-up

HOSTING A SHOE AND CLOTHING DONATION DRIVE WITH SOLES4SOULS

Green Athletics collected 40 pairs of shoes and 125 pieces of clothing from student-athletes and coaches to donate to Soles4Souls, an organization who helps people in developing countries launch and sustain their own small businesses through selling donated shoes and clothing.

ORGANIZING A THREE-PART SPEAKER SERIES

January-March, student-athletes engaged in climate change and racial justice related conversations with UVA faculty. Speakers included Professor Deborah Lawrence, climate change researcher and policy expert, Lela Garner, UVA Sustainability Coordinator, and Rollin Johnson, Madison house Director of Program Management.

Zoom screenshot of 9 members (3x3 grid) all smiling for the camera
Speaker series over Zoom, featuring Prof. Deborah Lawrence (middle)

HOSTING A FOOD DRIVE WITH UVA COMMUNITY FOOD PANTRY

Green Athletics collected 400 lbs of food donations from student-athletes to the UVA Community Food Pantry, a student-run initiative that provides essential food and hygiene items to food insecure students, faculty, and staff at UVA.

Female student wearing black & navy blue and white sneakers, sitting next to many cans and non-perishable food items collected during a food drive. Some food is held in red or silver crates and some is laid out next to where the female is sitting.
UVA Community Food Pantry drive, featuring Sadey
Tall green box next to a hand sanitizer station. The box is labeled with a recycling sign for mask recycling.
Mask recycling at the McCue Center

HELPING IMPLEMENT A MASK RECYCLING PROGRAM

Student-athletes helped implement and promote a mask recycling pilot program in athletics spaces including Boar’s Head, Mc Cue, and The Park. Instead of being thrown out, used masks were sent to a Terracycle, a company who recycles typically non-cyclable items.

Zoom screenshot with both male and female students in a 9-screen grid (3x3). The bottom right box is completely black and has no one in it.
ACC Sustainable Athletes meeting

ORGANIZING CONFERENCE-WIDE SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES

Green Athletics members helped expand ACC Sustainable Athletes, a conference wide group of student-athletes interested in sustainability, by recruiting student-athletes from other universities to join. They also organized a three-part speaker series with ACC Sustainable Athletes featuring Sam Kelly, UVA Sustainability Special Projects Coordinator, Oppong Hemeng, NC State Sustainability Program Specialist, and Lela Garner, UVA Sustainability Coordinator.