Within the sustainability industry, there is currently a conversation on whether “green” can be thought of as masculine. The prevailing view in some sustainability circles is that “going green” is thought of as more feminine. Though making more conscious and responsible purchasing decisions has no gender-specific connotations behind it, to some, the stigma still appears to exist.
According to a new study, “Is Eco-Friendly Unmanly? The Green-Feminine Stereotype and Its Effect on Sustainable Consumption” from the Journal of Consumer Research, people identify eco-friendly practices as “feminine” practices. They also found that men might avoid sustainable behaviors and products ENTIRELY, all just to “protect their masculinity.”
In an article from Quartz covering this specific subject, the reason for this stereotype is unclear. Some point fingers at green marketing or at women just “tending to be” more responsible. However, in terms of green marketing, it seems that if masculinity has been affirmed then males will feel more comfortable “going green.”
Enter the expanding world of sustainability practices and sports. Can the increased expansion of this market help to dismantle some of these stereotypes?
Recently, the US Department of Energy’s initiative announced its support for green leadership within sports venues. According to the DOE, within the past few years, “the sports community has realized the importance of taking action on clean energy and is now playing an increasing leadership role on sustainability. And for many of the sports teams and leagues, these efforts have started with the stadiums. Today, there are about 30 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certified sports venues that have been completed, or are currently in the construction phase according the U.S. Green Building Council. Even more have implemented energy efficiency projects and other resource conservation efforts to significantly reduce their environmental footprints. The leading efforts of these stadiums, and the many millions of people they reach, clearly reverberate throughout the community.”
According to the Green Sports Alliance, the U.S. Open is now greener than it has ever been, with its “practical and measurable initiatives designed to save water, conserve energy and improve both its materials selection and indoor environmental quality.” They’re generating less energy, water and waste, and they’ve used some recycled building materials.
Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, just received the “Energy HERO” Award, for their “outstanding leadership and innovation to conserve resources and protect the environment.” Like the Grandstand for the U.S. Open, they’ve also improved water and energy efficiency, saving thousands of gallons of water and they’ve cut energy usage by 40%.
FIFA just became the first international sports organization to join Climate Neutral Now, pledging to control the greenhouse gas emissions that will be related to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The PGA of America just announced Constellation, a U.S. energy supplier, as their Official Energy Provider and Sustainability Partner. According to an article with the Green Sports Blog, the partnership will help PGA by minimizing the 2016 Ryder Cup’s carbon footprint, as well as the overall environmental impact of the PGA’s events.
NFL and College Football are also promoting green behaviors and practices.
The University of Colorado has opened a zero-waste aluminum can tailgate zone. Similarly, the University of Southern Carolina has a zero waste tailgate certification program for tailgate parties. Virginia Tech has a “Tailgate Toolkit” to help improve recycling and energy sustainability processes while tailgating. And that’s only just a few of the colleges pushing their sustainability efforts in the sports world. Although it’s more difficult for the NFL, many of the team’s stadiums have a major focus on energy efficiency to help lessen the costs and overall impact on the environment. Stadiums such as AT&T Stadium, FedEx Field, Levi’s Stadium, MetLife Stadium, Georgia Dome, Gillette Stadium, and more are just some of the top energy efficient and sustainable stadiums in the NFL.
With MLB, NHL and NBA, green practices are extremely prevalent. Each of these organizations has their own green initiatives and teams. Whether it’s the stadium’s recycling efforts/capabilities, the energy being used in the lights and scoreboards or the water used to create an ice rink, they’re all constantly doing something environmentally friendly to help continue to push sustainability forward in the sports realm. Additionally, they’ve all three chosen SustainU to create sports-licensed apparel for their fans out of 100% recycled materials that are Made in the USA.
It’s apparent that sustainability is becoming more pronounced across many sports properties and leagues. But, how can the overarching perspective on sustainability affect individual action and potentially help “masculinize” green behavior in sports?
Sports fashion provides an amazing medium to actually influence popular culture. For example, just think about basketball and how the length of men’s shorts and socks has been directly affected by what is worn on, around and outside the court.
Apparel may hold one of the keys to mainstreaming sustainability across any perceived gender line. It has the very unique ability to bring people together. Think about the when you see someone wearing your team’s logo or colors and how this instantly provides a connection.
So, if we can influence what is worn to show unity, pride and passion in the sports culture, this could potentially spill over to other areas of life. Apparel could be a great first step in consumers making more sustainable lifestyle choices.
The sustainable message of recycled technology and domestic investment is gender neutral. Consumers seem to be growing in their desire to support brands that can tell an authentic story and provide great products. As we look to the future, we see sports as a gateway to more sustainable practices for male and female fans alike.
- Journal of Consumer Research
- US Department of Energy
- Green Sports Alliance
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- Green Sports Blog
- University of Colorado
- Electric Choice
- Bleacher Report