For Philadelphia's NFL team, green is more than the color of their uniforms. Since 2003, the Eagles franchise has pioneered a program -- appropriately called "Go Green" -- that saves energy, reduces waste, helps save the planet, and sets a great example for their city and beyond.
The concept pervades all aspects of the team's operation, from the playing field to the kitchen, and the locker room to the stands.
"Go Green is a way of life for the entire organization," says team co-owner Christina Lurie, who with her husband, Jeffrey, accepted the EMA board of directors' Ongoing Commitment Award on behalf of the Eagles at the Environmental Media Awards Nov. 13. "It's important that we all reduce our carbon footprint."
Toward that end, the franchise replaced the million plastic cups, bowls, plates and utensils used annually with biodegradable ones made from corn and switched to recycled paper products -- saving nearly 3,000 trees a year.
They converted vehicles to run on biodiesel -- the cooking grease from the stadium kitchens -- installed solar panels at the team's practice facility that will generate more than 16 thousand kilowatt-hours of energy, and purchased 14 million kilowatt-hours of wind power to run Lincoln Financial Field and its training complex 100 percent off the grid. The result: a reduction in carbon emissions equal to planting 67 trees a year, something the team actively promotes.
The Eagles organization planted hundreds of trees in the hurricane-devastated Mississippi River Valley, and has done the same closer to home in Pennsylvania, at schools, parks and in the six-and-a-half-acre Eagles Forest in suburban Philadelphia.
Team members regularly make Go Green public service announcements that reach out to the community, encouraging fans to recycle and plant trees. A section of the Go Green website targets kids, as does an animated cartoon featuring players and the team mascot. Older fans get the eco-message via the Eagles cheerleaders' annual calendar, featuring the squad in organic cotton and recycled-plastic bikinis, accessorized with jewelry made from old computer chips. It's printed on recycled paper, of course.
Other Eagles employees have incentive to Go Green as well. Everyone on the payroll received two free compact-fluorescent light bulbs last April for Earth Day, and the organization reimburses anyone who switches to wind energy at home.
Co-owner Jeffrey Lurie is optimistic that other sports franchises will follow the Eagles' lead. "Hopefully in five or 10 years it will be run of the mill, what a sports team does, and we'll look back and say, 'We didn't do anything exceptional. We just led the trend,'" he says. "Hopefully more people will find other ways of doing what we're doing, and we'll learn from them."