Climate change is a serious global challenge facing humanity. The majority of our population does not understand the complexities of the greenhouse effect or comprehend how their daily lives have a significant impact on carbon emissions. An effective way of illustrating one’s personal environmental impact is to perform a carbon footprint calculation. As a student of Sustainability Studies and a member of the University of New Mexico’s volleyball team, I wanted to become an avid advocate of sustainable practices for the people with whom I regularly surround myself. My intent for this project was to educate the volleyball community on the seriousness of climate change, to teach then how to calculate their carbon footprint, then begin a conversation on how to decrease their footprint by promoting carbon mitigating practices in their daily lives and around campus. In order to achieve these goals I calculated the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the University of New Mexico’s volleyball team solely from air travel during the fall of 2009 and 2010. This was done to illustrate to what extent one human activity, in this instance, air travel, can negatively affect the environment, and to have a basis for promoting my fellow-teammates and community members to pursue actionable measures that will decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
The team traveled approximately 9,400 miles via airplane during the fall season of 2009, emitting 62 tons of carbon into the atmosphere. By the end of the fall 2010 semester, the team will have emitted 87 tons of carbon. I have defined two ways in which the team could alleviate the stress it places on the environment. First, we can become educated on the issues of climate change, then teach our fan base, students, faculty, and administration about sustainable practices and their importance. Second, we can urge each other and the aforementioned to engage in projects that specifically mitigate the greenhouse gases we emit.
In order to begin this process, the UNM volleyball team hosted their first “Green Game” on September 14th, 2010 in which issues concerning energy conservation, food localization, and carbon offsetting were presented to the crowd. I also met with members of UNM’s Physical Plant Department and administrators within the Athletic department and began a conversation of how UNM Volleyball can offset their carbon by installing a renewable energy resources on campus.