Thursday, June 21, 2007

Green Tennis

Tennis and revolutions have a long history. Taken on a tennis court near the Palace of Versailles during the French Revolution, "The Tennis Court Oath"(serment du jeu de paume) was a solemn collective vow by French deputies to continue to meet despite a royal prohibition to do so until a constitution had been written. Today an even more violent revolution is happening-seemingly irreversible and dramatic climate change impacts due to the human footprint upon this planet. Perhaps a newer version of "Tennis Court Oath" needs to be taken-"We swear never to separate ourselves from our connection with nature, and to reassemble whenever circumstances require, until responsible environmental best practices are enacted in the realm of tennis and fixed upon solid foundations." Our many diversions and games offer us all a playful and entertaining manner in which to respond to these challenges those future generations and we must endure. Play is an essential component of our innate humaneness. Conservation is an essential component our collective survival. People who enjoy tennis can all lessen their impact through three key "R" actions:
  • "Reduction" of pollutants
  • "Reusing" resources
  • "Recycling" of waste
Environmental initiatives such as energy and water conservation and renewable energy sourcing can take numerous creative forms. Since environmental issues are becoming more apparent, the potential for the game of tennis to become greener is expanding. The "tennis industry" can only diminish its carbon footprint through a sustainable game plan that leads by example. What's more there are considerable public relations benefits to attract more people to the game if tennis can demonstrate that it champions conservation.

Some assume that tennis's environmental impact is not significant compared to other sports. Did you know that most tennis balls are made out of recycled rubber and that asphalt is the leading recycled product in the U.S. with an impressive 80% recycling rate? Golf, seemingly the greenest of sports, has been linked to pesticides issues, habitat destruction and water shortages on a large scale. The various golf associations and stakeholders have addressed these issues through several dedicated environmental organizations and technical developments. It's hard being green--every sport has some environmental implications. However, there are simple conservation measures and best management practices that enhance sustainability. There are ways to become more mindful and to lessen ecological impacts. There are many examples simply in new lighting products that both prevent pollution as well as diminishing the cost to the consumer.

So as global resources dwindle and government regulations increase, the tennis industry can certainly benefit by implementing measures that support more sustainable and renewable energy, minimize the use of raw materials, and reduce ecological damage. Tennis is played for many reasons, among them for better health: if the players benefit from improved health, they can also help to improve the health of our environment.

There are modest financial incentives to encourage more environmentally responsible behavior. Current environmental trends are pressuring the public to become more and more aware about the uses of energy and other resources. As in tennis there will be "winners" and "losers" depending on what current practices in the industry are adopted.

There are emerging sectors (e.g. green building) that provide rating systems of how they may become carbon neutral. It is not unimaginable that there may be some sort of ingenious 'green scoring' criteria developed in the future to provide useful feedback and to encourage responsible environmental management.


Tennis infrastructures such as clubs and stadiums can undertake simple energy audits to better protect and insulate these structures. Modest investments, with short- or long-term ROI, can be explored. Long-term investments that require more money, such as solar panels, wind turbines, or other renewable energy technologies may be also evaluated depending upon the needs and interests of facility managers and owners, as well as users. Let's simply focus on the area of lighting. Lighting consumes up to 20% of our home energy use and up to 30% of our workplace electricity expenditure. Nevertheless changing to more efficient lighting must be addressed in a comprehensive manner. For example, mercury is an essential ingredient in energy-efficient lighting and long-lasting light bulbs. Computer monitors and lamps, when thrown away, can discharge mercury and other toxins into the environment. Fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps also contain mercury. We know mercury is a potent nerve toxin that damages the brain, liver, and kidneys and causes developmental disorders in children. Lamp manufacturers have reduced the use of mercury over the years. One hundred fluorescent lamps contain approximately 4 grams of mercury. If improperly handled or disposed of, mercury lamps contribute significantly to mercury emissions.

Light-emitting diode (LED) is a 45-year-old technology that delivers no heat output and delivers an average of 32 lumens of light, and LED bulbs burn about 50 times as long as the average incandescent bulb. Recent university research and other technical advancements are expected to contribute to LEDs replacing incandescent light bulbs in the next five to seven years.

Reducing, Reusing and Recycling Waste

Innovative procurement of environmentally friendly products can lessen waste by bulk purchase of products made from recycled materials or reused and refurbished goods. While making recycling easier by collecting all recyclables in one receptacle can increase participation, it can also increase contamination. There are many types of successful recycling programs all over the US that have demonstrated they can be simple as well as cost-effective.

Many tennis facilities recycle beverage containers and paper. Expanding these enterprises to concentrate on greater tonnage materials and disposal of toxins (e.g. paints, cleaners, etc.) is a great next step. Event recycling initiatives have proven to be successful depending upon the size and location of a tournament. However, truly green events require support by both the staff and public. It is essential to put the horse before the cart-concentrate on reduction and then on reuse. Creating attractive opportunities to recycle in an uncomplicated manner can be also explored. Proper design, planning, and implementation require good materials and skilful communications in order to muster public support. Reuse is in action in all four major tennis tournaments since they have permanent restaurants that use china, glass and silverware-not paper and plastic.

A number of tour events have a waste collection system involving more than one bin, so recyclable items are separated by the user. Many of these are in western European countries where environmental awareness has been prevalent for a couple of decades, and where the city authorities have established the rules.

Lawn Care

Lawn management design makes a huge difference because collectively our lawns-home, business, or sporting venues--impact significantly on water bodies. If you rely on a lawn service to maintain your lawns or use a landscaper, please request them to become more mindful of good conservation practices and help them become better stewards. In proper lawn management, grass clippings do not need to be removed from the lawn (this is termed "grass cycling"). However if grass clippings are collected and composted, they should be mixed with other yard waste to provide bulk and a proper ratio of two important plant nutrients, carbon and nitrogen (C/N). Otherwise, the clippings may compact and restrict airflow in the compost pile and cause unpleasant odors as well as noxious bacteria. Improper lawn maintenance can result in excessive lawn fertilization and is a significant source of nutrient pollution to our water bodies. So developing and implementing home nutrient-reduction strategies is critical. Better-managed lawns would reduce the amount of excess nutrients entering our water bodies and improve water quality.

Landscape Design

Take steps to replace under-utilized lawn areas or areas where grass does not grow well with other vegetation, mulch or even rocks. Savvy tree planting with good environmental planning can help reduce runoff and save on cooling costs to your home or workplace. Xerescaping or designing gardens that minimize water use is another option.

Other Opportunities

Water conservation is becoming essential in more arid locations and facilities are exploring new low-water consumption technologies. Such emerging technologies include underground watering for soft courts, waterless urinals, and water flow restrictors on showerheads and taps. Also water reuse is becoming popular where recycled water is used for lawn irrigation or water barrels used to collect roof rainwater.

Going Forth

There are many other ways to conserve and be green tennis players. The above just gives you some ideas to begin with. Developing greater incentives to be green is critical just as keeping score in tennis is critical too.

As climate change takes hold and it gets warmer, it would be wise for the tennis community to become greener and less brown. There are a number of actions that can be taken now at club/facility level, regional level, and national level and globally. The more tennis players who awake to become lean and green the healthier our game will grow. May you enjoy the many "happy returns" of taking care of yourself and our planet both on and off the courts!

* The writer and broadcaster Chris Bowers is currently working on tennis's first formal research into the sport's environmental impact, and will be reporting his results at the International Tennis Federation's third Tennis Science and Technology congress in September.

A Cool Idea to Plant Trees

Our country is at its greatest when we see that people are in trouble and we respond by giving a hand making our world a better place. Today we Americans are in environmental trouble and need help ourselves The time is perfect to engage in Americans of all walks to plant trees. Whether citizens wish to lessen global warming or to beautify a neighborhood, people long to show they care. What better way to bring our community together then attract people from the city, suburbs and the countryside united in planting trees for our future. Also such a campaign (i.e. Be Cool, Plant Trees) can join groups, organizations, governments, businesses of all facets to come together celebrating that by planting trees. The results is we both enriched people an experience in saving our land and investing in our psychic well being.

What better way to make this dream become real then to plant a tree. If every citizen can be offered the privilege to help the land what possibility can America demonstrate their love for this country. There is no better time or need then to challenge America of all walks to get their shovel out and plant trees. Global warming, water pollution control, involving youth in civilian conservation and other benefit can be experience if we can create the opportunity to make this a reality.

Planting trees conserve energy, reduce stormwater run-off, beautify surroundings, and create additional community and socio-economic benefits. There are other invaluable resources developed ─ our youth and the link that preserving our land helps our collective well-being.

Let’s learn from history and activate American youth to preserve their outdoors and plant new life. Children planting trees directly invests them to importance of future conservation work and the importance of public service.

To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the creation of the CCC, The Corps Network and the CCC Legacy Foundation will launch a campaign to raise awareness of the CCC, modern Corps and the benefits of planting trees to society and the environment. This campaign will include an event on CCC Day, March 31st, 2008, and will conclude on Public Lands Day in September of 2008. Throughout the campaign Service and Conservation Corps and other partners will complete a variety of tree planting projects and hold local media events that bring together CCC alumni with the Corps members of today. This campaign will also be linked to The Corps Network’s federal policy efforts to engage more young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, on public lands.

In the process of our efforts we may also invite other organizations into a nation-wide tree planting campaign concentrating on children and others to pay tribute by a challenge, “two billion trees planting in the next five years to help reforest America of trees because of the formation of the CCC. Exploring additional efforts can further promote our mission is to get children involved in conservation activities so to benefit from this rich legacy of direct experience in showing respect for our natural resources.

The CCC served as a catalyst to develop the very tenants of modern conservation. By investigating dynamic partnerships with diverse organizations our efforts maybe can further promote this tree planting campaign. For example uniting all together tree planting activities in American today can be as simple as developing an umbrella interactive web site networking all the efforts into one national and promotional outreach program.

Similar to Johnny Appleseed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he first became elected established the CCC, the single greatest conservation movement in history. His love for trees and getting the young outdoors to save the land, FDR commented was getting them to become shareholders in our country’s future.

In closing, by developing this Be Cool, Plant Trees campaign we can tap inspirational leaders to champion this endeavor. History teaches us the power of once again motivating citizens results in an wildfire effect. However instead of destroying our forests we will be creating new ones. Finally, tree samplings, shovels, dirt and human hands can bond together an American celebration benefiting our collective hearts, minds and souls. Let’s pass the shovel now for this legacy only will continue if we may learn from

A Green Dream for Shenandoah Valley

Nearly 90 percent of the Washington DC metro region depends on the Potomac and its major tributary, the Shenandoah for clean drinking water. Also the Shenandoah valley supplies billions dollars in agriculture, timber, tourism and other environmental benefits. One hundred years ago we wisely established the George Washington National Forest to help preserve this watershed.

According to the Chesapeake Bay clean-up estimates, well over $2 billion is needed to restore the Shenandoah River to meet clean water goals. To do this we must develop new jobs and outreach programs to meet these needs. More than 1,300 miles of rivers and streams in the Shenandoah watershed fail to meet Federal clean water standard because of excess nutrients, sediment, and other pollutants. To meet this challenge we must change our very attitude on how we do business from short term to long term profits and also account for how much we are willing to invest in the value of this watershed.

We must look how we can grow in an organic not inorganic fashion. Rapid growth leads to more roads, parking lots and roofs. These hard surfaces prevent rain from soaking into the ground naturally and result in significant increases in runoff with such things as automobile oil, lawn fertilizer and other pollutants.

We need to act now since there have been many fish kills of small mouth bass and red breasted sunfish populations in the last few years on the Shenandoah River.

How we develop in the Shenandoah Valley will impact our water, air and land.

Promoting improved technologies and programs can result in increased economic benefits through emerging “green” infrastructure requirements (e.g reduced runoff volumes and nutrient export from a site).

New innovations must be explored as we see these as beginning economic development tools for our valley since how we allow our land to be developed can be a win/win situation if we exercise prudence. How we respect our valley raises fundamental questions about what new jobs we can provide for future generations. Now nearly 75 years ago 2 billion trees were planted by Civilian Conservation Corps. Since the first camp began right in the middle of the valley, training the youth in conservation has historic implications.

New Advancements = New Jobs

The valley can become an advocate for new eco-employment opportunities and stimulated new businesses to come to this region to support this demand for green industry.

Design “With” Nature

Similar to how water runs down our roof down spouts it can be cleaned when plants absorb and recycle this spoiled water. Everyone has an opportunity to design a rain type garden to prevent pollution and water our plants and lawns since waste lots of money on watering and flushing with valuable drinking water instead of water reuse.

Such improved site design can also reduce the need to clear and grade the area increasing erosion control practices and can result in significant cost savings to builders. Much of the reduction in capital costs can be attributed to a reduction in impervious cover.

Non Point Pollution Prevention Measures

The greatest challenge in the environmental protection today is getting individuals to not do such things as litter, conserve water and energy, improperly throw away their toxic household by-products, fertilize their lawn, reduce their waste, and other sustainable measures. These directly or indirectly impact the Shenandoah Valley watershed is and such behaviors must be targeted and changed since this is the largest source of pollution, our collective selves.

Wastewater and Water Reuse Pollution Prevention Measures

How our well, spring, cistern, septic, alternative or municipal water/wastewater system operates and is managed plays a critical role on keeping our water clean. Failing systems, source water pollution and other problems all impact the watershed. Measures to address this infra-structure and development management tools are critical. Water reuse is going to be another key technology to develop.

Improved Best Management Practices, Pollution Controls, Training and Social Marketing

American’s need to realize we face another form of serious terror, how we foul our environment. Just a simple act of throwing a can out of a car has an environmental impact. Collectively, how people change their car oil, or clean-up their animal waste or fertilize their lawn impact the Shenandoah River. People cause pollution and the source to control it. Without collective behavior change and improved good housekeeping measures the greatest source of our water impairment.

Air/Land/Water Impacts = More Pollution

The more we pollute or over regulate one medium without creating economic or incentives to change may result increasing environmental pollution to another area. This history of environmental regulation is good proof. Without integrated comprehensive planning numerous environmental conservations measures can be done in vain. If you improve conservation but allow for increased use it may be like bottle water situation of today. You have increased its package but not necessarily improved the product and created more plastic and cost. Expand Interstate 81 without alternative rail or greenway structures and it will be seen in 30 years as a major infrastructure blunder and it will cost future generations to rebuild.

Reduce First, Reuse Second and Recycle Last

More people recycle today then vote resulting in both a blessing and a curse. Reuse and reduction are far more favorable ways to better our environment then picking up grass and glass bottles at the curb. Maybe a better investment can be made in composting new top soil and creating reusable oil filters as best use of limited resources and dollars

Below is an entire summary of possible best management opportunities to promote future prosperity for Shenandoah Valley:

1) Integrated Watershed Green Technology into Agenda for Action – research and develop key employment training, technology, water quality improvement measures together into one economic development plan. Pull together income from fisheries, agriculture, industry, and recreation and tourism. Also show indirect drinking water treatment costs, health care costs, and other environmental economic benefits. Show prevention saving and document income from recreation and tourism and increased property values and show the natural capitalism from reduction in energy costs, health care costs, flood control and stormwater quality and pollution treatment costs.

a) Wastewater

b) Employment Opportunites – work with colleges and develop specific training

c) Better Site Design – cluster development, impervious cover limits

d) Erosion and Sediment Control – improve channel protection, clearing and grading,
and other pollution/sediment contols *

e) Stormwater regulations, floodplain protection

2) Wastewater and Water Reuse Pollution Prevention Measures

How our well, spring, cistern, septic, alternative or municipal water/wastewater system operates and is managed plays a critical role on keeping our water clean.

3) Improved Best Management Practices, Pollution Controls, Training and Social Marketing People cause pollution and the source to control it. Without collective behavior change and improved good housekeeping measures the greatest source

4) Reduce First, Reuse Second and Recycle Last

More people recycle today then vote resulting in both a blessing and a curse. Reuse and reduction are far more favorable ways to better our environment then picking up grass and glass bottles at the curb. Maybe a better investment can be made in composting new top soil and creating reusable oil filters as best use of limited resources and dollars.