Going Green Can Be Masculine, Too

Small and quiet hybrid cars, reusable shopping bags, eating organically; on the surface, going green isn’t the easiest thing for the typical male ego to adjust to. While some people would argue that the true example of masculinity is a man who doesn’t care what others think of him, let’s face it, men can be self-conscious, too.

According to OgilvyEarth, 82% of Americans consider going green “feminine.” That’s a big number considering that many experts have suggested going green is pretty much essential to our future. So how do we reach out to these men who are too afraid to take the next green step? One answer could lie within the most masculine pastime of all: being a sports fan. In the interest of “monkey see, monkey do,” here are a few things that some of the most popular sports leagues and organizations are doing to keep up with the green scene.

More than just Eagle Green: In 2003, the Philadelphia Eagles became the first professional sports team to introduce an environmental strategy by starting their Go Green program. Some of the steps taken through the program included operating Eagle facilities with 100% clean energy, installing three state-of-the-art solar panels, and recycling over 550 tons of waste. In addition, Lincoln Financial Field was the first NFL stadium to operate completely on wind and sustainable energy.

It’s a hit!: Last season, Major League Baseball partnered with the Natural Resource Defense Council in order to encourage its 30 teams to adopt better green initiatives. The NRDC created a website featuring suggestions for how clubs could improve energy and financial efficiency. The site tracks such things as water use, waste, and recycling at ballparks. Teams that have taken a swing at the NRDC’s suggestions include the Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, and the New York Mets.

Crossing sports lines: Back in 2010, six sports organizations (mainly based out of the Pacific Northwest) created the Green Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of sports organizations while encouraging their fans to do the same. Since then, nearly two dozen other organizations have joined while simultaneously reducing their environmental impact. For example, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ diversion rate (rate of converting from traditional disposal to green disposal) jumped from 27% in 2008 to 40% in 2010.

“Pedal to the Metal”: Most recently, NASCAR introduced a plan to go substantially greener. While it may be hard to believe that a sport based entirely around thousand pound cars racing in circles would have any incentive to go green, the organization has announced several initiatives. Some of those include collecting used fuel, planting trees to offset carbon emissions and deploying sheep to keep the infield grass short. While this will both save money and help the environment, NASCAR also hopes that the effort will also attract new types of sponsors who would have otherwise paid no attention to the sport.

Sure motivation to go green isn’t always about saving the planet when it comes to sports organizations. However, after taking a look at the ambitious projects that this fraction of green teams has embarked upon, hopefully the previously mentioned 82% will reconsider any preconceived notions about “going green.”

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1 comment about "Going Green Can Be Masculine, Too".
  1. Andrea Learned from Learned On, LLC , October 12, 2011 at 2:10 p.m.
    I completely agree, Frank, that sports is a great way to ease sustainability into a more masculine frame - and I'm a huge fan of what the Green Sports Alliance is doing, for one. I also see opportunity in reaching out to the less typically masculine shared values/common ground that a lot of men have over being parents, for example. What I mean is that: given the Ogilvy Earth findings, making green more manly is not your only choice for "selling" it to more men. Instead, you may want to identify and engage with the less stereotypically "manly" aspects of men. Parenthood is a universally human experience (for many but not all men) that can really connect people with the need to leave the planet in a better environmental state than when they found it. As sustainability communicators, we can surely strive to make "green" a man's concern without having to make it more (stereotypically) manly.