On April 10, Massachusetts environmental groups launched a campaign asking the state's beloved Red Sox baseball team to "go green," an Environment Massachusetts press release reported.
In their joint "Sox Go Green" campaign, Environment Massachusetts and MASSPIRG Students are specifically calling on the team to source 100 percent of the power it uses for Fenway Park, its Florida spring training facility and all other team operations from renewable energy.
The campaign is not at all antagonistic to the team, but rather urges the Red Sox to use their name recognition to inspire other Massachusetts institutions to take environmental action.
"As a lifelong Sox fan, I know how important this team is in the eyes of everyone who lives in Massachusetts," MASSPIRG chapter chair and UMass Boston student Morganne McGuirk said in the press release. "If the Red Sox go 100 percent renewable, other businesses and institutions will undoubtedly follow their lead."
The activists want the team to follow a two-step schedule. In five years, they want them to get 100 percent of their electricity from New England solar and wind farms. In 10 years, they want them to meet all their transportation and heating needs from renewables as well.
Activists point out that if the Red Sox head their suggestion, they will be joining seven Massachusetts cities and towns and major state institutions like Harvard and Boston Universities, as well as 120 major companies including Google.
If the Red Sox agree, it would not be out of character for a team with a history of taking environmental actions.
They were the first Major League Baseball team to install solar thermal panels in 2008, which were used to heat water in Fenway Park. In spring of 2015, the they planted Fenway Farms, a rooftop garden over the third-base side of the park. Produce from the garden is used to prepare food sold at the stadium.
But the Red Sox are not alone among professional sports teams in taking action on environmental issues.
In March, the National Hockey League (NHL) announced plans to increase its environmental commitments over concerns that climate change would threaten the frozen ponds on which many of its players first learned to skate. The NHL said it would focus on reducing carbon emissions, supporting energy efficiency, and reducing waste and water use.
In the world of Football, the Philadelphia Eagles have 2,500 solar panels installed at their stadium.
The Red Sox main rivals, the New York Yankees, have also taken environmental action. Since the team's new stadium opened in 2009, the team has used renewable energy certificates, which represent one megawatt-hour of renewable energy generated and delivered to the grid, for 100 percent of the stadium's purchased energy.
"If I know anything about Boston, it's that we don't like to come in second to New York," Environment Massachusetts State Director Ben Hellerstein said in the release. "The Red Sox should set their sights on winning the race to 100 percent renewable energy."
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
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Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.