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Captain Planet

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

When Trevor Linden was a member of the Vancouver Canucks, he was a proponent of hard work, dedication and playing with heart. Oh, and recycling.

As announced on March 21, Canucks Sports & Entertainment (the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena) became a founding member of the Green Sports Alliance.

The GSA is a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the environmental impacts of its professional sports members and to inspire others to do the same, but it turns out Linden was an advocate of recycling before it was trendy and green became the new black, so much so that teammates would give Linden the gears whenever they could about playing Captain Planet.

During a stop in Minnesota on a road trip, Linden’s teammates took the teasing a step further and, thanks to some solid Photoshop skills, altered a billboard to commemorate Linden’s green efforts.

“As you walk into the Minnesota arena and walk down this long hall, there were always these advertisements along the hall," explained Linden, “and one had a picture of a guy standing there with a Minnesota Wild hat in his hand, and the caption said something like ‘it takes 15 plastic water bottles to make this hat’.

“So one day I came walking down the hall and it was my face on top of this guy’s face. They had a good laugh with that.”

What no one is laughing at is the impact Linden had in the dressing room in terms of recycling. The need for at least bottle recycling came to the attention of the veteran forward one-day after practice when he realized just how many bottles were being thrown in the trash.

Linden estimates that on practice days, each player, all 23 in the room, drinks at least three bottles of water and a Gatorade, with those numbers fluctuating to 10 on game days. Do the math and that’s nearly 1,000 bottles being wasted on a week where the Canucks play three games and practice four times.

The persistence of Linden paid off as the Canucks instituted a recycling program that lives on today in the form of a designated built-in bin for bottles and cans in the player’s lounge.

In his post-NHL career, Linden is still practicing green ways every day.

“I think I probably started at home first and just when you look at the plastic and the cans and the glass that just my wife and I go through, just to throw that away is wrong. I started there on the recycling side of things more than anything and then got into car-pooling.

From starting small to believing in it as a way of life, practicing green habits has become imperative to Linden.

“When you think of the waste that we go through as humans and the opportunity we have to make our own difference in that way and it’s about every person trying to do their bit in their own way. When you think of how enormous this city, just Vancouver alone not thinking of the world, but just the difference we can make in our landfills and just with thinking green.

“It doesn’t happen all at once, but if we’re thinking that way, we can slowly but surely make some changes in our lives, which can be really helpful to the planet.”

Ryan Kesler is perhaps the greenest Canuck these days, but he wasn’t always that way. Kesler may or may not be responsible for the prank on Linden in Minnesota – “It might have been me, who knows, he’ll never know” – but today he’s a poster boy for BC Hydro as a Team Power Smart Leader.

Kesler, along with Gordon Campbell, Steve Nash, Lui Passaglia, Lauren Woolstencroft and others, joined Team Power Smart in 2007, determined to do his part for the environment. It all began with Kesler throwing on a sweater when he was cold instead of turning up the thermostat at home, and he now practices what he preaches by maintaining other green measures with his wife and two kids.

“Every little bit helps,” said Kesler. “I do it at home and if everybody does it, it makes a big difference.

“Going green, it’s not just for the environment and us, it’s for our kids and their kids. You want your kids and future generations to live the life and have the planet that we have now. Going green is about conserving and really just saving every little bit we can.”

For more information on the Green Sports Alliance click here. To join Team Power Smart, check here.

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