Vernon Davis believes the NFL has the power to make an impact on our plastic crisis. While we’ve become accustomed to NFL players participating in charity work, more recently, we’ve seen some environmental activism within the league. In the summer of 2018, the NFL joined the Green Sports Alliance, which aims to inspire sports organizations to practice more sustainability. Kudos to the NFL! However, we still haven’t seen a ban on single-use plastic water bottles, a much-needed effort for any sustainability initiative. This is especially true for high-traffic venues where poor purchasing decisions of single-use plastic items are made by management and trickle down into bad options for guests that ultimately buckle our waste stream with plastic.
Single-use plastic bottles pervade professional football and the sports industry as a whole. Waste Management estimates that the top 200 stadiums in the U.S. see more than 180 million visitors yearly. Plastic bottled water, in its relatively short-purposed life span, has become the go-to for many athletes and fans wanting to hydrate quickly. Single-use bottled water is readily available everywhere; sold in stands, and gyms, given out at training camps, and littered in parking lots from tailgate parties. To their credit, many stadiums are ramping up their recycling efforts, yet this is only the first step in the right direction. Of course, diverting plastic from landfills with stadium recycling programs is an essential first step; however, it’s time stadiums start addressing the types of materials sold to visitors in the first place, like non-reusable plastics. Because when you truly come to understand the enormous harm that plastics have on our health and environment, it makes sense to stock better, healthier materials for visitors.
Vernon Davis Ditches Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles for refillable PATH
Vernon Davis, tight end for the Washington Redskins, is not happy about the amount of plastic bottle waste being generated, “I think they (single-use plastic water bottles) are a tremendous waste. After meeting with PATH and learning more about how the tremendous amounts of plastic we dispose of daily destroy our oceans, it upset me.”
The truth is that we have far better options than single-use plastic water bottles today, which is why it seems backward to continue supporting the 17 million barrels of oil that are required annually in the U.S. for producing this inevitable plastic waste.
The D.C. native feels responsible for sounding the alarm and inspiring more people to open their eyes to the plastic crisis, which has only emerged in the last 50 years.
“We (athletes) have a huge responsibility. We have a platform that we have been given to use for more than just talking about our stats from a game. We are looked at as leaders in our community and within our fan base. If we can use that influence to encourage our fans to make greener choices, we can be the catalyst for great change,” says Davis.
Where the Plastic Bottle Problem Begins - Manufacturing
Plastic bottles are created in abundance by manufacturers looking to maximize profits, which is where the problem starts. We tend to look at the very end of the cycle, the plastics in our streets, that go to landfills and that end up in our oceans. We look at the people who used the bottle before it got there. We point our fingers and say they must stop using plastic bottles or they must stop littering. However, the problem starts with the people who are profiting from and producing these plastic bottles in the first place. A fossil fuel dependent market was so pervasive in 2017 that they managed to produce 55 billion single-use plastic water bottles in the U.S. alone. Here we can see precisely where the real change must be made - manufacturing.
Turning petroleum into profits, specifically plastic production is why we even have plastic bottled water in the first place. Single-use plastic bottled water was not created for convenience because, logically, it is very inconvenient to have plastic pollution from hard-to-recycle materials, which leads to human and planetary health issues. It makes sense to reclaim our water and ditch the useless plastic bottles alongside sports leaders like Vernon Davis, who successfully educate teammates and others in the league about the destruction single-use bottled water is causing. "I have a good amount of guys on my team that has committed to removing plastic bottles from their life after teaching them about PATHWATER's mission. I am also working on doing so with others around the league," said Davis.
Vernon Davis' declaration against single-use plastic water bottles can have a tremendous impact on the NFL. Consider this, the total attendance at regular season games is consistently in the 17 million range each season. When you add to attendance numbers like stadium staff, operations and management, coaching, communications/broadcast staff, security, medical support, and all of the people who contribute to the production of NFL games, this leaves us with a massive opportunity to influence our single-use plastic bottle crisis in sports.
A Call for the NFL to BAN Single-Use Plastic Bottles
As a family-focused league, the NFL has a shining opportunity to follow leaders like Davis, who prioritize health and family values. Banning single-use plastic water bottles is about keeping our families healthy and free from potential plastic harm. It's about keeping our athletes at top performance levels without the threat of microplastics and increased estrogen entering their brains, which decreases power and performance, according to studies. It's also about the vision of the future we want together for our teams who feel like family. When we asked Vernon about his feelings on making sustainable choices, particularly as a father, he stated, "You know, when you become a parent, you start thinking about the next 100 years rather than the next 40 or 50, which makes up your estimated lifespan. You think about the future of your kids and their kids. It gives me an even greater sense of responsibility to do what I can to leave this earth better than it was when I was born."
The Vernon Davis Challenge - 1 week without plastic!
Vernon Davis has a challenge for everyone, ditch the single-use plastic bottled water for just one week. Vernon says, "See how easy it really can be and how good you will feel knowing that you are not adding to the poison we are putting into our earth. Now that PATHWATER has given us a greener alternative, one week could turn into forever!"
Vernon is backing up his sustainable vision of the world with his dollar. When he learned about PATH's mission from a friend, he was intrigued to learn more. He became inspired by the executive team's passion for the environment, the reusable bottled water concept, and the overall business plan. Vernon's excitement led to him officially becoming an investor, but more importantly, a vibrant supporter and true believer in PATH's mission to clean up our plastics crisis together.
Join the Reuse Revolution with Vernon Davis!