Invisible Friend (organic t-shirt)
Is it time that ‘the beautiful game’ goes green? Indeed it is. Football is England’s most popular sport, and there is so much that can be done – from the pitch to the food to the kit to the footballs. If you’re not a footie fan: football is the round ball you kick and head, American football is the same (but you kick and pass the oval ball). And soccer is American football, but with a round ball. So now you know!
There are tens of thousands of football clubs in England, and only around 20 have high-earning players (a premier footballer can earn £50,000 a week, compared to a train driver on £1000). That’s due to supply-and-demand (if people did not attend so many matches and buy designer kits, they would not be paid this much). Most football clubs are community-run on low budgets, and a few are ‘owned by the people’, rather than by rich billionaires. Liverpool is one of England’s most passionate community of footie fans, and have come to love their new (German) manager, after he carried on the tradition of having nothing to do with The Sun newspaper (after it disgracefully blamed the fans for the tragic Hillsborough fire disaster). The city has boycotted the paper for over 25 years (it only recently offered an apology). Non-profits can help budding young footballers include:
- Football Beyond Borders
- Football Foundation (grants for pitches)
- Street League (helps unemployed youth)
- The Street Soccer Foundation (runs a 10-week program)
Tips for Greener Football
- Forest Green Rovers (Somerset) is owned by Dale Vince, who runs green energy company Ecotricity. His players eat a plant-based diet when playing (half-time food is also vegan) and the players wear bamboo football kits (washed in eco detergent). The organic pitch is maintained with compost tea and seaweed fertiliser, there are Pavegen (power-storing tiles), electric car charging points, and an upcoming wooden stadium to house 5000 people, with 500 trees and new hedgerows.
- Most footballs are still made from leather, often in countries with poor animal (and human) welfare conditions. Check footballs are leather-free as some ‘Fair Trade’ ones are made with animal ingredients. Most ethical footballs are made with latex. SOCCKET was developed by four female Harvard students for developing countries: it generates energy as children play with it, so they can use the light to study (without chopping wood or kerosene lamps).
- You can get free football kits from Kits n Boots (recycled) or buy used kits from Boot X Change, Old School Uniform & Uniform Swap Shop.
- Many football boots are made with K-leather. Animals Australia reports the boots are made by shooting kangaroos, then clubbing or decapitating the joeys left in the pouch (if they escape, they starve or get eaten). David Beckham stopped advertising them, due to pressure from animal welfare charities, but Adidas has released them again as ‘Copa Mundial’ boots. Switch to vegan football boots (and donate to a kangaroo sanctuary).
From Man United to Making a Difference!
The Zero Waste Shop (Devon) is one of England’s first zero waste shops. This is like an upmarket scoop shop; take your own containers and fill up with with food & household goods. What makes this one unique, is that it was set up by ex-Manchester United footballer Richard Eckersley and his wife.
Fed up of a world obsessed with cars and clothes, Richard has also set up a ‘plant-based milk delivery service‘. He may not make the salary he once did, but he is living a happier simpler life. He says that if you told him he would quit football at 27 to become a shopkeeper, he would never have believed you!