Arsenal: top of the sustainability league?

Every generation is significantly more environmentally aware than the last - we have a responsibility to our younger fans to ensure that we are providing that leadership for them.

Hywel Sloman, Operations Director at Arsenal

Receiving an Arsenal top for my birthday was all it took for me to become a fan when I was a child. The fact that many players were French might also have helped! Alas, the last couple of years haven’t been too glorious for the club. You won’t see Arsenal and top of the league in the same sentence very often.

However, Arsenal came second in the English Premier League sustainability table of 2020. The rankings were created by BBC Sport and the Sport Positive Summit following research and analysis of eight sustainability categories; clean energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, single-use plastic reduction or removal, waste management, water efficiency, plant-based/low-carbon food options as well as general communications around sustainability.

Arsenal came close seconds to their arch-rivals, Tottenham. In the context of environmental sustainability, we can put rivalries aside and applaud positive initiatives taken by any club in the league.

Beyond the sustainability tables, Arsenal became the first Premier League club to sign up to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. This initiative is aiming to align the community of sports with goals set by the Paris Agreement. In doing so, Arsenal has committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.

The club has proactively been working to reduce its carbon emissions. Since 2016, Arsenal has partnered with Octopus Energy to ensure they would be powered by 100% renewable energy. Since then, this partnership has enabled the club to reduce its carbon footprint by 10,7 million kilograms of CO2. It is equivalent to the CO2 emissions generated from 24,773 barrels of oil according to this EPA calculator.

Other sustainability initiatives from the club include the installation of a water recycling system at the Colney training grounds as well as the replacement of single-use plastic pint cups with re-usable alternatives. A much better way to enjoy your half-time pint!

In a similar fashion to how other corporate organisations would approach environmental sustainability, Arsenal has written its own environmental policy. It refers to how the club is working to improve waste management practices and reduce its energy and water consumption. You can find out more about how they are tackling these challenges on their website.

Hector Bellerin

Some of Arsenal’s efforts to fight climate change are lead by our beloved Spanish right-back, Hector Bellerin. Last season, Bellerin partnered with the NGO One Tree Planted following his commitment to planting 3,000 trees for every Arsenal victory. He also supported the planting of trees at the club’s training base.

Bellerin is also known for his support of veganism. As explored in my article on climate change and diets, veganism is a great way for individuals to reduce their individual carbon footprint. Additionally, the health benefits of the diet are claimed by many athletes such as Djokovic, Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams. For more information on veganism and sports, I’d highly recommend you watch the Netflix documentary “Game Changers”.

I became a vegan around three years ago and at first, I just wanted to try it and detox my body. Initially, I thought I’d eat meat as a ‘treat’ — but, being vegan just worked for me. After a month of being vegan, I felt stronger — and I didn’t struggle with ankle injuries anymore. I began to feel more energetic on the pitch — and I began to notice a real difference.

Hector Bellerin

Overall, Arsenal fans can hope the performance of the club will be as good on the pitch as it is off it. As fans of the world, we can all hope Arsenal will lead the way and inspire other sports organisations to rethink how they approach environmental sustainability.

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Pierre-Louis Godin

Pierre-Louis Godin

Always looking to learn more about environmental sustainability and climate change. I'll mostly be writing about these topics!