There are many reasons for pursuing environmentally sensitive policies and programs. The many environmental benefits of such a program include:
Supporting Public Health
Improving the environmental performance of your facility’s operations helps to protect public health. Fossil fuel-generated energy and transportation produce air pollutants that can cause respiratory illness and increases in hospital visits. In addition, coal-fired power plants – which provide half of all the electricity consumed in the United States – are the world’s number one emitter of mercury, a neurotoxin that is now found in rivers and streams throughout the world. Mercury can cause developmental and neurological disorders, especially in children.
Reducing your organization’s environmental footprint can improve public health protection in other ways as well. Reducing paper consumption helps protect habitat, reduces global warming pollution and reduces the amount of toxic chemicals emitted by the paper industry, including dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals known to humanity; using less toxic cleaning products and low-emissions paints can improve the indoor air quality of your facility and contribute to healthier fans and players; and installing water meters, low-flow faucets, and showers can help ensure that there will be enough clean water for future generations.
Protecting Clean Air
The transportation and energy sectors are the two biggest causes of global warming, acid rain, and smog. Cars and power plants also release small particles into the air that can impair respiratory function and cause cancer. By increasing energy efficiency, promoting alternative transportation, and supporting renewable energy, your organization can contribute to cleaner air.
Defending Clean Water
Almost half of the world’s population lives without access to a reliable source of clean water. In the United States, water pollution affects many of our nation’s rivers, streams, and lakes. Two of the biggest causes of water pollution in the U.S. are agricultural and urban runoff. Agricultural runoff consists mostly of sediment, pesticides, fertilizers, and sediment. Many pesticides can cause cancer and other illnesses, while the nutrients in fertilizers can deplete oxygen in water, making it unsuitable for fish and other aquatic life.
Urban runoff occurs when rain flows over impervious surfaces like roads, roofs, and parking lots. Urban runoff collects pollutants which can include oil and gasoline, trash, and toxic heavy metals like mercury and cadmium. Agricultural and urban lands are not the only sources of water pollution. Mining, forestry, and other industries also make significant contributions.
Your organization can make a helpful difference by purchasing products that cause less water pollution. Organic foods, for example, are made without pesticides and fertilizers and therefore cause less water pollution. Buying renewable energy reduces the amount of water pollution associated with oil and coal production, and purchasing recycled paper reduces water pollution from virgin paper mills, which are among the most polluting factories in the world.
Your organization can also help prevent water pollution by controlling and capturing rainwater and preserving pervious surfaces (such as grass and gravel) around your facility, which can reduce runoff.
Responding to the Threat of Global Warming
Since the beginning of the industrial age, people have been burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal, releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. As the concentrations of these compounds rise in the atmosphere, they trap more and more heat. Scientists agree that our world is heating up, and that human activity is a primary cause.
Global warming may have many adverse consequences, including increases in droughts, hurricanes, floods, and other severe weather events; significant rises in sea level; and increased spread of diseases once confined to the tropics. Whole industries, from farming in the Midwest to skiing in the Northeast and Rocky Mountains, may be affected.
The projected costs of global warming to our economy and public health are staggering. Fortunately, solutions exist. Smarter procurement practices, increasing energy efficiency, and purchasing renewable energy can help reduce the threats of this global crisis.
Since the rise of life on earth, the planet has experienced five major periods of global extinction. Now, we are entering a sixth major extinction period, this one caused by humans. As urbanization and agriculture encroach on natural habitats, there are fewer resources and less habitat for the millions of other species that coexist with us. These threats to biodiversity are made worse by the threat of global warming.
By responding to the threat of global warming – through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and transportation innovations – your organization can also help preserve biodiversity. Reducing paper use and buying paper made with postconsumer recycled content reduces pressure on terrestrial species dependent on natural forests. By implementing polices that protect and conserve water, your organization can help reduce the risk to aquatic species. And by publicizing these policies, your organization can help raise awareness and inspire others to do the same.