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As spring fully blooms, the April celebration of Green Month is just the re-start of how we can heal the environment all year long. It begins with each of us doing what we can, no what matter what month it is and no matter how small or inconsequential it might seem.

“There's this preconceived notion that one individual can't make change, one individual can't help fight the climate crisis,” said Brianna Treat, director of sustainability for the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena. “That’s untrue because if we all do, let's say, something to conserve water, something to reduce carbon, if we all do that together, that's a potential eight billion people doing something collective that makes a far bigger impact than if we were to do it alone.”

While the Kraken fan base isn’t in the billions, there is distinct power in the team’s numbers attending games and following the team through its app, website and social media accounts. The Kraken, One Roof Foundation and Climate Pledge have been active and effective during Green Month 2024 in addressing environmental health and sustainability on several fronts, including consumer tips, helping nonprofits access funding for environmental justice initiatives, joining the South Park community in a neighborhood clean-up and leading the way in zero-waste for companies and large facilities.

Sustainability: Keep On Keeping On

As part of the game presentation and social media connections with fans, the Kraken created a series of Green Month graphics, one for each week in April, that helps all of us determine those “small acts” that lead to a larger impact. The graphics covered ways to reduce energy use, conserve water, reduce carbon and recycle/compost more waste.

Some examples: To reduce electric use, launder in cold water when feasible. Climate Pledge Arena collects rainwater (more than 250,000 gallons in three seasons) to make the greenest ice in the NHL. Fans attending home games have several public transit choices to get to the game and leave their cars at home or even a discount parking lot at Westlake Center (taking the Monorail from there).

As for optimizing the reuse of waste, Treat, and colleagues were attending to fans’ disposal of the debris from food and beverage concessions both in real time on concourses during the game and then post-game, sorting waste items into recyclable categories. Treat said each event generates eight to 10 tons of waste during each of the 150 events (sports, concerts, more) each year at the arena, with more than 90 percent being available for re-purposing rather than headed to landfill (see “Zeroing on Zero Waste” below).

“One of my favorite fan tips using the free public transit subsidy [embedded in every digital ticket] to get to our venue,” said Treat. “I do all of our carbon accounting, and the more people that take public transit, the less carbon emissions are associated with fan travel to our events. It’s most important for fans to understand there are actual ways that you can reduce your effect on the environment while having fun at a concert or sports event.”

As part of championing sustainability and generating awareness about what every fan-citizen can do, the Kraken celebrated Green Night, presented by Boeing, during their home game against the Arizona Coyotes on April 9.

The Write Way with UW Partnership

When One Roof Foundation formed just four years ago and selected environmental justice as one of its impact pillars, one of the first things it did was form a task force of subject-matter experts to help guide its work and maximize impact.

“We are clearly not the experts in this field,” said Mari Horita, executive director of One Roof Foundation, “and we lean on the scholars and front-line community members to advise us on both the issues and possible solutions.”

One Roof Foundation kickstarted Green Month with an empowering new partnership with

the University of Washington’s Center for Environmental Health Equity (CEHE). One Roof and CEHE are teaming up to help community-based nonprofits across the region learn the most effective ways to frame grant-writing projects to gain access to state and federal funding that will be available over the next several years for environmental justice initiatives. Environmental justice, including the improvement of water and air quality in some Seattle neighborhoods, is one of One Roof’s three action pillars. What seemed overwhelming and overbearing to many nonprofits will become attainable and community-changing.

“One Roof asked and listened to where the gaps and opportunities were in supporting environmental justice efforts for our frontline and Black, Indigenous and People of Color led groups,” said Esther Min, one of One Roof’s original task force members and a clinical assistant professor at UW and associate director of CEHE who oversees the UW center’s engagement with grassroots organizations.

Min explained UW students, faculty, and staff have all been “working hard to leverage the technical expertise, skills, resources and people we have at the university to support frontline community organizations.” But the work leaves a big gap in not being able to fully write out grand applications” for the community nonprofits. The new partnership will hold a grant-writing workshop on June 24 and 25 as part of a $75,000 gift from One Roof but also provide ongoing support on filing successful grant applications.

“It is absolutely critical for us to support the capacity of frontline and BIPOC communities and uplift their vision,” said Min. “Many small orgs have been sharing their struggles for needing to chase funding on the funder’s terms to be able to work on their missions and keep their doors open for the communities where they live, work, play, recreate and worship in. One Roof’s partnership with CEHE helps create that space to get ahead [with grant applications], so when a funding opportunity comes up for a specific project or a topic, these organizations will have ideas already developed and flushed out.”

Addressing South Park’s Environmental Risk Factors

During the third week of Green Month, One Roof Foundation and the Kraken hosted a community clean-up in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood, where youth are three times more likely to suffer from asthma because of polluted air. From the beginning, One Roof has partnered with the Duwamish River Community Coalition, a leading environmental justice and community organization based in South Park, to help advance One Roof’s environmental justice work.

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"In a community that suffers significant health disparities and often lacks access to medical care, I am always grateful for One Roof Foundation and the Kraken,” said Paulina Lopez, executive director of the Duwamish River Community Coalition. “They are always there for us to support the community in intentional ways. They have supported our community by bringing health equity initiatives, organizing community cleanups and funding to reduce the inequities in the Duwamish Valley community. We feel good not to be alone in the fight for environmental justice and well-being".

Zeroing in On Zero-Waste

The aforementioned Brianna Treat and colleagues were thrilled this week that Climate Pledge Arena has been awarded the Platinum Level of Green Business Certification Inc.’s TRUE Zero Waste certification. To be awarded the certification, the Arena maintained a plus-90 percent diversion rate at the Kraken home arena, along with using sustainably sourced products and engaging fans and employees on how to properly dispose of waste to maximize the reuse of the material.

“What this means is the amount of waste taking away or diverting away from a landfill,” said Treat, noting that 100 percent zero waste is impossible and that 90 percent is the gold standard in the industry. “The more waste that we can send to compost or recycling or re-use, the better our diversion rate. Over the last 22 months, we averaged 92 to 93 percent as our diversion rate [or some 3,000 tons of waste saved from going to the landfill in those two years] ... We went for this certification and achieved platinum level, which is the highest level that you can achieve. A lot of it came from how much we were actually diverting away from a landfill with our fan education techniques in the arena. The Kraken and music fans definitely helped us get the certification.”