|name: David Chernushenko |
company: Green & Gold
type of activity: sustainable sport
In this section, YXC has developed an imaginary interview with a friend of ours that we’ve already enjoyed working with on other projects with UNEP. He’s one of the most brilliant and agreeable experts in the field of Sustainable sports. M. David Chernushenko, is a member of the International Olympic Committee's Sport and Environment Commission and is President of The Green & Gold Company.
Could you give our readers a little information on what your company is about?
I am president of The Green & Gold, a company that develops ‘green’ business strategies for sports organizations that are looking to reduce waste and conserve resources. Our guiding formula is:
Inefficiency = Waste = Costs/Eco-Efficiency = Waste Avoidance = Savings.
How did you get started and why?
I first saw a need for sustainable development in the sports sector after hearing Canadian athletes gripe about poor environmental practices at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics: raw sewage bobbed around the wind surfers, recycling containers weren’t available at sporting events and poor air quality dogged the marathon. Moreover, environmental deterioration is impacting everyone's ability to do outdoor sports, not only Olympic athletes.
Before creating Green & Gold, in April 1998, I had been involved in sustainable sports for years, serving as Director of Sustainable Sports for the Delphi Group, an Ottawa-based consulting firm and I had worked with the U.N. Environment Programme.
Why are people attracted to your organisation?
Many sports decision-makers would like to implement better environmental and social management practices but are unsure of where and how to begin: we provide guidance on how to move towards sustainability.
Moreover, business owners are starting to see being sustainable as a competitive edge: reduced insurance costs for environmentally safer projects and avoiding costly environmental reviews are two examples of financial benefits for ‘sustainable businesses’.
How did you gain and maintain their trust?
As a company that promotes sustainability, we have decided to "practice what we preach". With our initiatives, which include the installation of a photovoltaic renewable energy system for our office, we try to:
How do you ‘measure’ the success of your organisation?
- Show the curious and the sceptical that the technology exists, that it is reliable, and that it has many useful applications.
- Influence Policy Makers by showing that companies exist that will embrace solar energy if public subsidies were shifted from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.
Many organizations, in sports or otherwise, have already shown that the process of moving towards sustainability can be stimulating and profitable, without being especially difficult: change is possible and with change comes opportunity.
What were the major obstacles encountered and how did you overcome them?
One of the greatest challenges you face in "greening" sports at any level is the belief that more environmentally responsible behaviour will cost money. In the short term, this is sometimes true. However, many possible steps you might take are often simply a matter of avoiding unnecessary costs and eliminating habits, purchases, and practices that are both environmentally harmful and costly. Reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides and herbicides on sports turf and golf courses will save money, reduce health risks, and lower operating costs. In the long term, almost all examples of sustainable sports behaviour will be more economically sound as well as environmentally and socially beneficial.
And your last comment for us is...
It’s simply not good enough to accept that the direction in which sports seems to be heading is somehow inevitable, not unless we are prepared to accept that the future for sports is one in which victory and profit are the principal motivators and in which athletes, communities and the environment pay the price. If there are things about the sports industry we do not like, it is up to us to work to change them.