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Eco-friendly Canucks embrace Earth Day

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Tuesday, April 22 is Earth Day and to celebrate events are planned for cities all over the world including Vancouver, New York and Barcelona.

The Vancouver Canucks will support Earth Day by not changing their routine at all, as many members of the team are part of the NHLPA Carbon Neutral Challenge, and have been eco-friendly both at home through their personal choices and in their professional lives, for quite some time.

Initiated by Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, the NHLPA Carbon Neutral Challenge is a program that pairs the NHLPA with the David Suzuki Foundation in promoting action on climate change and environmental responsibility.

This voluntary program, which is very highly endorsed by Canadian science broadcaster and environmental activist Dr. David Suzuki, entails that NHL players purchase carbon credits to offset the carbon footprint produced by their extensive travel schedule.

The David Suzuki Foundation has calculated that the average carbon footprint for an NHL player for the 2007-2008 regular season is 10 tons of carbon dioxide. The cost to neutralize this footprint is $290, a sum that each player pays to offset their impact.

So far 523 NHL players have gone carbon neutral, including 16 Canucks, in hopes of having no net impact on the climate.

“You make choices and I choose to be a professional hockey player,” Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell told Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun in March. “We fly around, and that's not great for global warming with all the emissions from our planes. But where you can be conscientious about it, I think it's the right thing to do.”

Fellow Canucks participating in the program include Roberto Luongo, Trevor Linden, Mattias Ohlund and Markus Naslund, although Mitchell trumps them all as he took things one step further and traded in his eco-disaster of an SUV for a more Earth friendly Toyota Prius.

“My buddies back home tell me I'm driving a potato,” Mitchell told MacIntyre. “But I tell them I've had it three months and I've filled it up only four times.”

Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Lidstrom and Jarome Iginla are just a sample of some of the other players from around the league taking part in the initiative.

“It's unbelievable how guys pick up on it and know something is important,” said Boston’s Andrew Ference. “Hockey is filled with a lot of great character and guys are showing it by stepping up and doing the right thing.

“It's all about taking initiative and we have a lot of guys who are really good at doing that.”

Dr. Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, believes that even though this program is still in its infancy, its impact is already being felt.

“Not only are players addressing their own climate impact, but their actions will deliver an important message that will inspire millions of hockey fans and be a model for other sports.”

Although the average carbon footprint of a non-NHL player is somewhat smaller than 10 tons a year (it varies depending on lifestyle and location), it’s still important that Canucks fans do their part to help the environment. Using public transit, recycling and turning off appliances that aren’t being used are just a few ways that we can all help out. It don't seem like much but if we all chip in, it adds up to a greener tomorrow.

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10 - Tons of carbon dioxide produced by every NHL player this season

16 - Canucks taking part in the NHLPA Carbon Neutral Challenge

$290 - Amount it takes to offset the impact an NHLer has on the environment

523 - NHL players taking part in the initiative

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