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How sport can improve sustainability

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part from having major health benefits, sport has the immense power to inspire fitness and an alternative lifestyle to drugs and crime in youths, to unite a nation, and heal old wounds. South Africa is one of the best examples of the latter when one thinks of how the Springbok team’s victory in the 1995 World Cup united a seriously divided South Africa behind President Nelson Mandela. There can be no doubt that this made South Africa a better place for all. Some aspects of sports could, however, have a negative impact on the environment and eco-systems. Equipment, clothing, footwear, facilities and infrastructure are, for example, necessary for the practice of nearly every type of sport — which inevitably has an impact on the eco-system and environment as they contribute to the ecological footprint (impact on the natural environment) of the sport.

Governance

Creating a better life for all

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Sustainability is a way of life that makes the world a better place for all. The broad term covers many ways of improving life: from protecting natural environments, ensuring cleaner air, reducing waste, to improving the health, living and working conditions of people

Enjoying healthy activities in the fresh air… surely few activities can beat sport when it comes to sustainability? Not so. It is true that sport plays a major role in improving the health and welfare of communities — but some aspects of sport can be bad for sustainability, NELLE DU TOIT reports

Harmful toxic substances can, for example, be used during the manufacturing of sports equipment — PVC, for example, is one of the most toxic substances and can be found in some cheaper sporting equipment. The manufacturing of some sports equipment can threaten species like Australia’s kangaroo population that provide the sought after leather (k-leather) for the manufacturing of top-end football boots. But many of the top international — and South African — sports brands have introduced sustainability into their Code of Conduct and their manufacturing processes (see www.sportstrader.co.za and follow the link to: What brands are doing to make the world a better place). Sport facilities and events consume energy and can contribute to air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation, as well as habitat and biodiversity loss, soil erosion and water pollution. Sport facilities, manufacturers and venues all have a responsibility to examine the effects they have on the environment and apply the most sustainable efforts possible to their business. Athletes and sport stars can, however, make an immensely positive Your Sport 2nd Quarter 2009

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