In these harsh economic times people are going to make more selective purchasing decisions. They may no longer choose to spend money in places that don't create a connection to them, their community or that doesn't have a positive impact on the planet. While soccer creates a great community atmosphere and we will all feel connected to a team that bears our chosen name, one of the things that Seattle Sounders FC can do is to mitigate their environmental impact.
This not only makes good business sense, it also is just plain good sense. It is through endeavours like this that a local business icon is continuing to reinvent itself. Starbucks is also an affordable luxury like a sporting event in some ways, but Howard Schultz is adamant that operating with good values will help people make their choices in favor of the Green Apron.
Now is a time to be bold. Now is a time to invest, truly and authentically, in our people, in our corporate responsibility and in our communities. The argument--and opportunity--for companies to do this has never been more compelling. A recent opinion piece by former Vice President Al Gore Jr. and David Blood makes this point eloquently. "Sustainability and long-term value creation are closely linked," they wrote earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal. "Business and markets cannot operate in isolation from society or the environment."
I share that belief, and it has guided me and my partners over the past three decades, as we have grown Starbucks into the company it is today. Sure, we are the first to admit that Starbucks is by no means perfect. We have made our share of mistakes. But I can tell you unequivocally that as Starbucks confronts today's economic challenges, it will do so while remaining true to our principles and fostering a culture that genuinely embraces our collective humanity.
Several of the commitments we recently announced are directly related to the environmental impact of our business, to include, but not limited to;
-Pro-actively impact climate change by offering farmers incentives to prevent deforestation. Pilot programs with Conservation International in Sumatra, Indonesia and Chiapas, Mexico are underway.
-100 percent of Starbucks cups will be either reusable or recyclable
-25 percent of cups will be reusable
-Increase recycling available in our stores
-50 percent energy used in our company-owned stores will come from renewable sources by 2010
-Reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by making our company-owned stores 25 percent more energy efficient by 2010
-Significantly reduce water usage
-All new company-owned stores will be certified green by 2010
-Champion tropical rainforest protection as a solution for climate change
These choices are being made not just because they are good for the planet, but because they are also good for business. Starbucks isn't the only company in the Seattle area doing the right thing in order to make more money in the long term. The Seattle Mariners have an active recycling program, reduced their energy usage and even had a Carbon Neutral baseball game.
In the Greater Puget Sound it only makes sense for business to capture our communities' enthusiasm for environmental stewardship for any business, but it particularly makes sense for a business that has Green as one of its colors to make every reasonable effort to be Green. This is one of the issues about which I have been adamant concerning my likely to fail run for the Membership Council, but it is one that I will continue to champion.
My initial idea was centered around the idea that the gameday giveaways should not just be clutter and memorabilia, but things which have a use as well as carry the Seattle Sounders FC brand outside of the stadium and the soccer loving world.
The first of these steps I suggested was that one of the gameday giveaways should be reusable shopping bags. These should be made either of cotton, hemp or recycled plastic. They should be in bright Rave Green with the Sounders FC logo prominent and the logo for a sponsoring grocery store as well. This provides branding for SSFC on the streets of our city, provides a utility to offset the upcoming plastic bag tax, and lastly creates a revenue stream through the sponsorship of a grocery chain that attaches itself to the Rave Green as Green concept. A large size reusable shopper can cost anywhere from 10.95 to nearly 50 dollars. This kind of giveaway helps reduce landfill usage, lowers up-coming fees for game attendees and is just one of the right things to do.
Other giveaways like this that could help would be reusable water bottles and reusable gameday beer/soda mugs. All are things that fans would like, would use, would carry the brand, and would be good for our earth while making the team sponsorship money.
But these are only small steps, though profitable. What else could the team do?
First&Goal should install solar panels along that huge roof line at Qwest Field. This is not a revolutionary idea, just a good one. The San Fransisco Giants in Major League Baseball have installed small solar arrays to help offset energy costs. But this is a concept that is already being used in Soccer parks in the USA to include the team that ended the USL Sounders run in the US Open Cup this year. The Charleston Battery, in not-known-for-green South Carolina, installed a small solar array behind one of their goals.
These though are much smaller efforts than what I am encouraging. Nuremburg Stadium (one of the host facilities for the 2006 World Cup) installed 1000 square meters of panel on its roof. There were plans for a largish stadium in China hosting the 2009 World Games to have its entire roof covered with panels as well.
For the doubters it is notable that even during the worst times of the year for sunlight in Seattle we recieve 1.6 hours of solar insolation a day and are directly comparable to Germany. During the summer months we get nearly five hours a day of solar insolation.
While this will not move Qwest off of the grid, it would help reduce the team's impact while making a hell of a publicity splash for both of its occupants. As our dollars need to be stretched consumers want to know that our dollars are going to institutions of value.
In this 21st Century era of "Responsible Capitalism" Sounders FC needs to make Rave Green another Green initiative