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Fifa logoAs I was enjoying the opening weekend of the FIFA World Cup, I couldn’t help but wonder if South Africa and the soccer community were embracing sustainable ideals. And, if so, how were they doing it? Obviously the generation of noise energy was all natural as 94,000 spectators blew on their vuvuzelas, so the world will always associate the South African games with a massive hornet’s nest. I had to use my new iPad to look up what else was going on.

Apparently, a lot.For example, 11 of the 32 teams in this year’s event are either paying to offset their carbon footprint or their sponsor, Puma, is doing it for them. These countries include Algeria, Cameroon, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, England, Ghana, Italy, Republic of Korea, Serbia, Switzerland and Uruguay. This amounts to approximately 6,000 tonnes of green house gas emissions during the games. There is a World Cup legacy program in place that includes retrofitting street lights, traffic lights and billboards with solar panels. The host cities have been working towards certifying hotels and restaurants as “green” hosts in order to feed into their Green Passport program. This 32-page passport has information and tips on how each tourist can reduce their impact on the environment during the games and also log their carbon offset during their stay.

The organizations behind this are the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). The passport is part of a larger project that intends to reduce the carbon footprint of major sporting events.

The Green Passport idea is a fun, holiday-inspired way of reminding us to tread lightly when we travel this summer. Tips for many destinations are listed at the Green Passport website.

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