Green Sports 101

Being a sports enthusiast doesn’t necessarily make you a polluter – but a range of plastics and chemicals in sports equipment does have an impact on the environment. Besides the number of sports equipment that ends up on landfills, there’s also the issue of ethical sourcing and fair trade. Here are some new innovations and great environmentally-friendly sporting goods available on the market:

Biodegradable golf balls

While biodegradable golf balls aren’t a new invention, they’re not used nearly as often as they should be used at the golf courses. Many golf balls end up in lakes and rivers and these drifters can take anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years to decompose if they’re not thrown away with regular waste. What’s worse is the fact that a smashed golf ball contains large amounts of zinc and other damaging materials.

A professor at the University of Maine and an undergraduate student has developed a new biodegradable golf ball to be used on cruise ships (or any place where golf balls would end up in water). These golf balls are made of crushed waste lobster shells with a biodegradable binder and coating.

“We’re using a byproduct of the lobster canning industry which is currently miserably underutilised – it ends up in a landfill,” lead scientist Professor David Neivandt told the UK’s Daily Maverick.

“We’re employing it in a value-added consumer product which hopefully has some cachet in the market,” said Neivandt.

Not only are these golf balls eco-friendly, but they are also cheaper than regular golf balls (because the raw materials for the lobster shell balls cost next to nothing) and they perform almost as well as the real thing.

Alex Caddell, an undergraduate student at the University of Maine involved with the project said the “flight properties are amazing” but they don’t “fly quite as far as a regular golf ball, but we’re actually getting a similar distance to other biodegradable golf balls.”

The University recently filed for a provisional patent and they are working on using the material for other commercial biodegradable products like plant pots.

Fair trade sports balls manufactures a number of sports balls (such as soccer balls and footballs) that have been certified green and produced from fair trade practices. The best part is that all their after tax profits go to children’s charities such as Room to Read (an organisation that runs literacy programs for kids) and Boys & Girls Club (a charity that focuses on the development of young boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence and belonging). Not only is it environmentally friendly – it’s also ethical.

They offer discounts for bulk purchases and you can also get these sustainable sports balls customised for your business or team. Check out their online retail store.

Bamboo surf boards

Gary Young from Bamboo Surfboards Hawaii started building bamboo surfboards in the 1970’s. The surfboards are made from bamboo, which is an eco-friendly, durable and natural material. Bamboo is also lightweight, making it perfect for surfing.

According to the website, bamboo can be made as light as a glass board, while far stronger. Bamboo also has a unique flex and can be made in most custom shapes.

Eco-friendly kayaks

Walden Kayaks are made from recycled HDPE plastics (such as those found in milk bottles). According to the company’s estimations, they have diverted over 600 tons of this type of plastic from landfills.

What makes HDPE a practical option for kayaks is the fact that this material can be welded for repairs and the plastics can (once again) be recycled once the kayak has reached the end of its life.

These kayaks weight about 17kg and there are over 20 models available in five colours.

The ultimate green running shoes

Brooks running shoes are made from recycled materials and contain biodegradable mid-soles. “Each and every part in this fast, groundbreaking shoe has a sustainable element, including soy-based inks and recycled materials,” reads a statement on the company’s website.

Solar powered MP3 player

MSI’s “Solar Mega Player 540” is an MP3 player that uses a solar module to charge its lithium-ion battery. Once the battery is fully charged, it will be able to play music for up to 10 hours.


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