UBC Undergraduate Research

Sustainability in Athletics : Textiles Recycling Program Finan, Siobhan; Haysom, Sarah; MacTaggart, Laura; Shephard, Danae


The aim of this SEEDS project was to develop a clothing and shoe recycling program model within a subset of UBC Thunderbird teams to reduce the waste from athletic gear. Four varsity teams were selected for the recycling trial: men’s volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s volleyball and women’s basketball. It is our hope that this recycling program will continue with these teams and expand to the other 21 varsity teams at UBC in the future. Furthermore, this project involved creating a survey tool that can be tested in a future SEEDS project to assess the sustainability literacy of varsity athletes and to better understand how they view the environmental impact of their sport. The idea for this project emerged when one of our students attended the 2017 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference in San Antonio, Texas where members of the Green Sport Alliance presented on the possibility of advancing sustainability goals through sport. Specifically, the idea for this project is based off a program at Ohio State University where they have partnered with Nike to recycle approximately 4,000 pairs of shoes they purchase each season for their varsity teams (Oberly, 2018). All students in this SEEDS project are current or previous Thunderbird volleyball players and understand firsthand the challenges that athletes and sport managers face to reduce the environmental footprint of athletics. The volleyball and basketball teams were first approached the week of January 29-31. The general overview of the project was explained and teams were given a recycling bin to put in their locker rooms. Two recycling bin collections occurred, on March 1st and April 3rd, where materials were weighed, sorted and put into storage at War Memorial Gym. The recycling program was very successful: after two months of collecting clothing, 137.48 lbs of material were donated (247 individual items) and donations included sport shoes, shirts, hats, children's clothing, sport balls and jackets. One key recommendation from this project is to expand the recycling program to include all 25 UBC varsity teams which would require a one-time payment of approximately $1,922, approximately 37 hours per school-year and the involvement of teams, coaches and facilities staff. It is predicted that at least 3,500 lbs of gear and $550 could be earned each year by recycling textiles with Trans-Continental Recycling Inc. Money from this project could fund further sustainability projects in athletics. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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