Taking a moment after a recent practice at Wilmington, Ference discussed his mission to raise awareness about becoming carbon neutral and helping to keep human impact on the environment in check.
When asked what prompted him to get pro-active about the environment almost a decade ago, Ference mentions the news of hearing about the hole in the ozone layer as the moment when he realized that “we can cause damage to the Earth.”
“When you start really seeing the cause and effect and obviously there’s a lot more in the news, a lot more talk about it in the papers…I think it was just a matter of maturing and realizing that we do have an effect on the Earth.”
Ever since this point, Andrew Ference
has taken on the calling to become less of a polluter and more of a purifier when it comes to the environment.
Born and raised in Alberta, Canada, Ference notes the extreme change from winters past to winters present.
“Where I live there’s a drastic amount of decrease in the snow that we used to get when I was grewing up. You can even talk to my parents and they’ll say the same thing so you compare from my parents until now, it’s even greater."
Ference decided to take action the best way he knew how -- first and foremost as a citizen and consumer. He first took a stand on alleviating his impact on the environment in his personal life through what products he purchased as well as reducing his individual output of carbon emission.
While some may look at the initiative to reduce as a “sacrifice,” Ference has the opposite outlook.
“One of the greatest things now is that these things (ie: compact fluorescent light bulbs and energy star products) are being mass produced and bought by so many people that you’re not shelling out extra bucks out of your pocket to go green, you’re actually doing the right thing and saving a lot of cash at the same time,” he explained.
Ference leads by example and explained just some of the ways to reduce human impact on the environment.
He advocates “having the right appliances, turning off the lights, changing the thermostat so you don’t have the temperature so high in the winter, driving hybrid cars, taking public transportation, riding bikes instead of hopping in the car, and going carbon-neutral for travel."
When asked to further explain this concept of carbon neutral, Ference explained that for him it is a means of counterbalancing the CO2 emissions generated by the team during travel over the course of the season by investing money with gold standard companies that promise to generate clean air to offset the pollution.
“Gold standard means that these companies are taking every single dollar that we pay and putting it directly into one of three projects, either a wind project in Madagascar, a solar project in Indonesia, or a bio-mass project in India."
Essentially, it’s like paying off a personal debt through building environmental credit.
Ference initially got the carbon neutral concept off the ground as a member of the Calgary Flames by working closely with a couple of his teammates and the David Suzuki Foundation.
As a Bruin, Ference is bringing the cause to Boston and beyond by organizing thirty distinct meetings amongst his team and the other twenty nine NHL clubs to discuss the implementation of carbon neutral across the league.
“It’s a big initiative by the NHL player’s association and it was really spear headed by a couple of us in Calgary and a couple guys around the league. It’s really neat to see the guys understanding it to different degrees; some guys are really into it, some guys are just learning about it; but, at the end of the day, almost everybody knows that we have to take responsibility for this kind of thing and that’s really cool to see. So it’s good leadership by hockey players as a whole.”
Ference has a few suggestions for his younger fans too in terms of how they and their families can make a difference in the environment. He advocates “taking part in some of the initiatives whether it’s Al Gore or the Suzuki Foundation or Leonardo Dicaprio or the Kennedys. Just pick a couple, do the right things and I think you’ll find that it’s addictive and you can take pride in knowing that first of all you’re doing the right thing and that you’re helping the next generations”.
As a final thought, Ference is reminded of a Native American saying that he’s come to appreciate: “‘We don’t own the Earth, we’re only borrowing it from the next generation’."
He added, "That’s just something to live by, whether you’re a kid or whether you’re older, I think you really have to keep that in mind. If you care about people, I don’t think you can have any excuse for not making wise decisions to try to help other people."
Andrew truly is a team player both on and off the ice.
--Helin Siris is a senior at Boston College. She currently interns in the Bruins Communications Office.