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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.