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The Olympics are an empowering reminder of achieving the unthinkable through perseverance and dedication, and the capacity for global cooperation to produce something lasting, something to be proud of. All the world’s a stage as London hosts their 3rd olympic games, building upon lessons learned, they attempt to create the most sustainable games to date.
From the Velodrome being sourced by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified wood, 100% naturally ventilated, and the roof with the capability of harvesting its own rainwater, all the way to a zero-waste goal through compostable food packaging and comprehensive recycling and waste management operations, and celebrating biodiversity by preserving creating urban green spaces, this 30th Olympiad is set to teach the world a few things about sustainability. London has attempted to reduce their impact on climate change by limiting the carbon emissions of the games through the precedent of prohibiting all cars from Olympic grounds, with updates to public transportation making this goal possible. Additionally, 20% of energy used at the games will sourced from renewables, offsetting power usage by creating energy-efficient solutions for local schools and homes. If you are interested in keeping tabs on the games’ energy usage, no worries, it can be done here!
With over 14 million meals being served, the first comprehensive “food vision” has been put forth for the games, ensuring food that meets high environmental, animal welfare, and ethical standards. Corporate sponsors have taken greener steps, such as Coca-Cola promising to create 80,000 new bottles from recycling at the games, and McDonald’s has outfitted their employees with uniforms made from closed-loop compatible materials. This commitment will limit the future clothing waste sent to landfill to zero, with plans to outfit over 85,000 of their employees with these uniforms before the end of the year. This decision sheds light on the environmental issues surrounding textile waste, of which our country alone added over 11 million tons to US landfills in 2010!
There has been much to say over the years as to the massive investment followed by large-scale waste that comes after the final medals have been awarded, with the footprint of the games, often leaving unused infrastructure decorating the local landscape for decades to come. Deconstruction and the “after-life” was heavily considered when designing the buildings for the 2012 games. The 17,000 apartments making up the Athletes’ Village have been created to be 40% more energy efficient, holding 10,000 square meters of green roofing, with plans of being transitioned into 8,000 zero-carbon homes as well as a park hosting local habitats, cycling pathways, and waterways.
It’s exciting to see so much for-thought being put into the games’ development, providing the nations of the world practical examples of how to minimize waste, reduce energy usage, and provide spaces for all life to flourish. The Olympics inspire us all to think bigger than our current limitations, to believe in the power of the human will to exceed its’ own expectations. If we applied that spirit to tackling our world’s most pressing issues, there is no limit to what we can achieve. Let the games begin!