Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for The Rolling Stones and the cofounder of MNN, talks to CBS sportscaster Greg Gumbel about how the NFL is going green. (Michael Lindsay and Nick Scott/MNN).

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Chuck: Hi, guys. Chuck Leavell here for the Mother Nature Network and welcome to another episode of In the Green Room. And as you can tell, we’re in a very special, very different green room today. We’re here at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. But please join me in welcoming my pal, Greg Grumbel.
Greg: I’m so glad to be with you. It’s good to see you again. We don’t see each other that often.

Chuck: I know it. I think the last time was in your home city of New Orleans.

Greg: That’s right, yeah. When you were playing some music and I was running around being a fan.

Chuck: Well, Greg, let’s get into some environmental issues.

Greg: You know, when we talked about me coming here and sitting down and talk, I talked with my friends at the National Football League.

Chuck: Right.

Greg: And I told them what it was and they sent me some information, because I am nothing if not prepared.

Chuck: Oh, good.

Greg: But you know, I really was pleasantly surprised, I guess, at the extent to which everyone has begun to tackle the problem and to see it as something that needs to be done. The NFL established a Green Team in May of last year. The commissioner, Roger Goodell, was instrumental, and the mission statement is to ensure that the NFL acts as a responsible steward of the environment by using resources efficiently and minimizing waste. And the goal is to improve the NFL’s use and management of energy, waste, and water at facilities and events and encourage best practices among NFL teams. Now, you know, to me, I go, well, that can just be so much, blah, blah, blah, blah blah. Does it really result in anything?

Chuck: Yeah.

Greg: But, what they do, they have energy audits at all three of their NFL facilities. They eliminate Styrofoam cups and replace them with reusable mugs and they’re talking about the elimination of 39,000 cups a year at their facilities alone.

Chuck: Wow.

Greg: Now, this is not including the various teams. You have 32 teams in the National Football League. They encourage them to do the same thing. They’ve made transitions to copy paper from 30 percent recycled fibers. They save nearly 300 trees annually. I know that’s close to your heart.

Chuck: Oh, yes. You know it is.

Greg: And what it told me is that it’s more than just lip service. That they actually do go out and do it. They have events planned. There’s an environmental plan now required by all future Super Bowl bids. Those cities that want to host a Super Bowl, they have to commit to this in advance or the NFL won’t even consider it. In Minnesota. The Vikings’ Planet Purple Week, is a series of environmental activities and events leading up to a green game in week six.

Chuck: Fantastic.

Greg: And Seahawks Green Day, major environmental awareness, education, and entertainment platform around the week three game. And, I guess I’m impressed because it’s really easy to say, and how many people other than you are gonna follow up and go, “Well, did you really mean what you say?”

Chuck: And it sounds like this is filtering over into other athletes and to coaches and all across the board.

Greg: You know, what it does, Chuck, is it takes me back to my early 20s, what we like to call “hippy days,” where actually the driving force was you can make a difference. You know, you really believe you can make a difference and I thought that the goal at that time was to do, to make a difference, whether it was a sit in or a marching here or a protest here or whatever it was. There are people in our generation who really felt they could change the world. And I don’t think that that can be underestimated with regards to this. I think that every little bit helps, and eight teams last year, 12 to 14 this year, and I know the commissioner is hoping for all 32 in the not-too-distant future.

Chuck: That’s very strong. That’s very strong. That’s wonderful words to hear. Greg, what a joy to have you on. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time.

Greg: Anytime.

Chuck: All of us look forward to your play by play on the whole season for CBS.

Greg: Thank you.

Chuck: I can’t wait to …

Greg: To do this again tomorrow?

Chuck: Yeah. We’ll do it.

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