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Top tips to become an environmentally sustainable sports club

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We all know that climate change is affecting the way we live and we are feeling its impact in sport too. Flooded pitches, extreme heat and poor air quality are sadly becoming more common which is why it’s important we do what we can for the environment.

Here are some top tips to help your club be more environmentally-friendly.

1. Start making simple energy-saving changes

If your club has its own premises, there are quick and easy changes you can make to be more energy efficient and reduce your carbon emissions. 

Simple things like turning down your heating a notch, adding thermostats to radiators, draught proofing and turning off appliances at the socket all help us to save energy – and save money!

You can also be savvy with your lighting, replacing your light bulbs with energy efficient LED ones, while motion sensor lights in changing rooms, hallways, and toilets can also be a good idea. Meanwhile, eco-shower heads can help save energy and water and cost as little as £15.

2. Make your facilities more energy efficient

Join the growing number of clubs across Wales who are swapping their old energy-intensive floodlights for modern LED floodlights. And the great news is that Sport Wales can support you with this via the Be Active Wales Fund.

Or how about switching to solar energy? Depending on your facility, installing solar panels could shave thousands off your energy bills in the long run while doing wonders for the environment. 

If your club would benefit from energy saving measures such as better insulation, a more modern boiler, solar panels and LED lights then look out for details of Sport Wales’ brand new Energy Saving Grants, launching in May 2023.

3. Travel in a green way

Travel to training and competitions all adds up and impacts on our environment. One way of reducing fuel emissions is to encourage club members to walk or cycle to your training sessions and matches, whenever possible. O r if they do really need to use a car then they could share lifts instead of driving solo. For those long distance away fixtures, booking a minibus will help to cut down your collective carbon footprint. You may even want to consider developing your club’s own green travel plan to help encourage members to reduce their reliance on cars.

4. Reduce your plastic waste 

Changing your club’s culture around the use of plastic can have a big impact. It takes a bit of planning but it is very achievable. 

Why not try these simple steps:

  • Kiss goodbye to water bottles. Did you know that 725,000 plastic bottles a day are used in Wales? They take hundreds of years to break down and end up in our oceans, harming wildlife. Refuse to sell bottled water and provide easy access to drinking water instead, encouraging people to refill.
  • Offer discounts on hot drinks to those who bring their own reusable coffee cups.
  • If you do need single-use cups, plates and cutlery, source paper and wooden alternatives that are compostable and reusable.

Find out how Uplands RFC became the first sports club in Wales to receive an award from Friends of the Earth Cymru after they decided to ditch the plastic.

5. Make your sports grounds eco-friendly

Across Wales, there are hundreds of football and rugby pitches, golf courses, cricket grounds and bowling greens. And they all need maintaining and keeping in tip top condition.

But chemical fertilisers and pesticides are wreaking havoc, polluting the local water supply and endangering local wildlife. However, more and more companies now offer greener alternatives to help you maintain an organic sports pitch. 

And while you’re at it, why not try harvesting your rainwater to help with watering in the summer months and composting your grass clippings? In the off season, leave the grass to grow to attract wildlife.

Red wild flowers in full bloom
A wild flower garden near a sports pitch.

6. Let nature thrive

If you have outdoor space, think about areas where you can leave the grass grow long to help create a busy wildlife habitat. Dandelions, buttercups and clover are all great sources of food for pollinators – so don’t be tempted to weed them out. Don’t have much space? A few pots blooming with nectar-rich flowers will make a world of difference for our bees and butterflies.

Did you know you can even get accredited for your efforts? The Wales Biodiversity Partnership runs the 'Bee Friendly' initiative to protect bees and other pollinators. So if you’re interested in becoming officially Bee Friendly, find out more.

7. Help achieve net zero with sustainable food and drink

If you’re a sports club that serves food and drink, then make an effort to buy local whenever possible to help reduce carbon emissions. 

It’s also worth finding out if you have any food surplus hubs near you. These voluntary organisations save food from being wasted and share it with the community. Your club could help make sure food goes into bellies and not bins!

8. Recycle and reuse 

Get as much life as possible out of sports kit by passing it on to younger members. And encourage members to think about passing on or selling equipment, such as cycling shoes or football boots, once they’ve outgrown it. 

Make sure you have clearly labelled recycling bins and make use of your local recycling services for things like furniture, electrical items and batteries.

9. Switch your club’s current account to an ethical bank

Deciding where to bank can, surprisingly, have a big impact on the environment as many invest in fossil fuel companies. To help you decide whether to switch, take a look at Ethical Consumer which rates the ethical and environmental record of 31 UK current accounts.

10. Switch to a green energy supplier

It’s been difficult to switch to a different energy supplier during the cost of living crisis but hopefully wholesale energy prices will begin to fall again soon. And when you do consider switching, take a look at green tariffs.

Green energy suppliers get their energy from renewable sources such as hydro, solar, wave or wind power so it’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Take a look at Sport Wales’ Environmental Sustainability Plan to find out how we aim to play our part in achieving the Welsh Government’s net zero ambitions.

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