Forest Green have become the frontrunners in the effort to make football more sustainable. Credit: Unsplash, Guillaume de Germain

”Sustainability is critical to all sectors and sport is no different” says Chief Executive and founder of BASIS, Dr. Russell Seymour as he talks to Dominic Challis about sustainability in modern day sports.

BASIS (The British Association for Sustainable Sport) was founded in 2010 by Dr. Russell Seymour.

Dr. Russell Seymour, 41, founded The British Association for Sustainable Sport in 2010
Dr. Russell Seymour, 41, founded The British Association for Sustainable Sport in 2010

Dr. Seymour says the overall mission at BASIS is: ”To empower sport in the UK, to become a world leader in sustainability, and with the urgency dictated by the science.”

To Dr. Seymour, it is the opportunity and the reach of sport that makes it unique.

He continues to explain that sport has the opportunity to reach and influence millions of participants and fans to talk about these issues of sustainability in a genuine way where people will listen.

If people see sustainability in the context of their sport, then it is likely to have a much more powerful effect than if a politician or a campaign group talk about it.

Awareness and understanding are key to sustainability – people will respond better when they understand the issue and when it is relevant to them.

Dr. Seymour says that the simplest rule to follow for a sports club to become more sustainable is the ”don’t waste” rule, borrowed from Sir David Attenborough.

”Reducing consumption and waste is an excellent starting point for clubs of all sizes and individuals – this applies across all sorts of areas including energy use (carbon emissions), travel, waste, food etc.”

Football club Forest Green Rovers F.C. (F.G.R.) have a mission to become the world’s first carbon neutral football club and have been described by FIFA as ”The world’s greenest football club.”

Based in Gloucestershire, F.G.R. began their journey in 2010 when green energy industrialist and owner of the wind turbine powered electricity company ‘Ecotricity’, Dale Vince, became club chairman.

They have introduced sustainability measures like 180 solar panels on the roof of ‘The New Lawn’ stadium, electric car charging points, water recycling, the first robot lawn mower to be used by a British football club, the world’s first organic football pitch by using organic fertilizer, and a vegan food menu for players, staff and fans.

Dr. Seymour says that F.G.R. are in a unique position because their Chairman, Dale Vince, ”has a very strong and deeply held personal position when it comes to sustainability.

”It would be great to see more clubs managing their facilities like F.G.R. do, but the model is unlikely to be created in the same way.

”Having said that, F.G.R. have proven that it can be done, I would encourage other sports clubs to try and follow in the footsteps of F.G.R.”

Dr. Seymour believes that sustainability within modern sports clubs has already started and some clubs, venues and governing bodies have done more than others – but there is a lot more to do to embed sustainability into sport today.

When asked what sustainability means to Dr. Seymour and BASIS, he says that there is an impact to everything we as people do, and therefore sustainability affects everything.

He continues to say: ”Our position is that sport is a good thing as it has so many benefits, we must make sure that we don’t cause any unnecessary impacts, mitigate and adapt where we can and talk about the positive actions taken.”