|Ales Kotalik is one of 17 Buffalo Sabres to participate in teh Carbon Neutral Challenge (Photo: Getty Images) |
To help the environment, the Buffalo Sabres are staying in the neutral zone.
Taking part in an initiative created by Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, the Sabres are doing their part to reduce pollution and lower the team’s carbon footprint.
The program, called the Carbon Neutral Challenge, consists of players throughout the NHL offsetting their travel emissions by making an equitable donation to renewable energy.CARBON NEUTRAL Participating Players
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In other words, to combat the pollution created by team travel- to road games and practice- each player is asked to neutralize the effects on the environment by donating money to finance wind power, planting trees or other forms of energy.
“It’s just something that all the players thought would be good to help out,” said Buffalo’s player representative Andrew Peters. “It’s a good cause and something that didn’t need much discussion in our meetings. Guys were on board for it.”
In fact, since Ference presented the idea to the NHL Players Association last season with long-time environmental activist David Suzuki, 523 players have joined in including 17 members of the Sabres.
“With the amount of travel that we do, it’s the right thing to do,” Sabres defenseman Nathan Paetsch said. “Everyone agreed it’s becoming more important to keep the environment cleaner.”
According to Suzuki’s foundation, the average player is responsible for 10 tons of carbon emissions throughout the course of a season. To counteract the effects, a $290 donation is made to the individual’s choice of charity.
“If we don’t [start now] it will only get worse," Jochen Hecht
said. "The weather is already getting pretty bad so it’s good that we can help out a little bit."
A native of Germany, Hecht believes a project such as the Carbon Neutral Challenge is long overdue.
“In Germany, ever since I can remember we were separating our trash and recycling a lot,” he said. “It’s nice to see it getting done here instead of throwing everything into one big box.
“Back home everything is a lot closer so you are able to walk to get your groceries and walk to school instead of taking the car three or four blocks. It’s one of the first things you notice when you come here… everything is spread out. It’s good to take care of it a little bit.”
The Sabres are encouraging others to do the same.
“To be quite honest I don’t think it was something I ever thought would be incorporated in hockey,” Peters said. “I think it’s definitely something that people need to be aware of though and if we as athletes can do that and get the message out then it’s all for the better.”