By Jennie Saxe
It’s late August, and that means I’m getting ready for one of my favorite traditions: my annual trip to the US Open Tennis Championship in Flushing, Queens.
After a decade of attending the US Open, my first impression when I walk through the gate is still: everything about this place is so BIG. Huge stadiums. Jumbotrons. Giant banks of lights. Lots of people.
And possibly…lots of waste.
An event of this size has to accommodate the needs of hundreds of thousands of fans. Transportation, food service, groundskeeping, lighting, and waste management are all needed to make the event run smoothly. Those needs are enormous, and they could result in a tremendous impact on our natural resources. The good news is the United States Tennis Association (better known as the USTA) recognizes that this event – the largest attended annual sporting event in the world – can also make a huge difference.
The USTA’s environmental pledge – “Our courts may be blue, but we’re thinking green” – will be on full display during the US Open. Continuing efforts which began in 2008, this year’s US Open will feature a one-to-one ratio of recycling and waste receptacles, composting, encouragement of public transit, recycled content in paper products, conversion of food grease to biodiesel, local sourcing of food, and purchase of renewable energy credits, among other initiatives. All of these efforts reduce the impact of the event on our air, water, and land.
The event also provides a unique opportunity to educate tennis fans in attendance and those at home: sustainability initiatives are printed on draw sheets and shared through social media.
EPA’s sustainability-related programs support activities like those in place at the US Open. EPA also happens to be a founding partner of the Green Sports Alliance, which is meeting just a stone’s throw from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. This group brings together sports teams, venues, and leagues that want to minimize their environmental impacts. Participants in the Green Sports Alliance Summit have the opportunity to tour the venue to see first-hand how the USTA’s sustainability initiative at the US Open is making a difference.
I’m looking forward to some great tennis and seeing first-hand the USTA’s sustainability efforts in action. If you’ve never been to the US Open, you should check it out!
Dr. Jennie Saxe joined EPA in 2003 and is currently a Water Policy Analyst in the Water Protection Division of EPA Region 3 in Philadelphia. When not in the office, Jennie enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 children, cheering for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, and attempting to grow a vegetable garden.