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London Olympics good example of sports' embrace of environmental stewardship

Environmental activists are celebrating as the sports world seems to be more comfortable with embracing environmental stewardship not only as a business necessity, but also as a way to engage fans. This Olympics, in particular, has been particularly environmentally friendly.

The London Olympic Games are selling themselves not only as a way to revitalize a run-down part of the city, but also as the greenest Olympics, with plenty of venues designed to be recycled.

Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and director of its sports greening project, argues sports can have a huge influence on environmental attitudes — regardless of whether it’s an Olympic year. Hershkowitz says sports have had a history of pointing society in the direction of change.

"Our government, is not leading the way on global climate disruption, on biodiversity loss," he said. "Based on past cultural shifts, it’s clear that Congress does not always lead the way — gender equality — it was not Congress that led the way on gender equality."

Sports are extremely influential in U.S. society — 13 percent of Americans say they pay attention to science, while 61 percent say they pay attention to sports.

"The sports industry is non-political," Hershkowitz said. "So, if there was ever an industry that could confirm for us the non-partisan mainstream nature of environmental stewardship, the need for better environmental stewardship, the sports industry is a great spokesperson for that cause."

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