Unless the next NBA mascot is a Greenwasher, let’s cut it out.

Bernard James warms up for his game during NBA Green Week in 2013. Photo Credits: glenn.shelby

In 2010, the WNBA and the NBA announced its new corporate social responsibility initiative to go green– just like everyone else in the world.

And, it’s wonderful. Don’t get me wrong. We should all be taking steps to protect the environment and reduce plastic use, but we shouldn’t be doing it to be trendy and relevant. We should just do it, because it’s right.

But, if you are going to commit to a CSR cause, do it to its fullest potential. Do not do what the NBA/WNBA has done.

If it’s broken, you fix it.

Two Maverick players attend the Trees for Threes event in 2017. Photo Credit: Mavericks

Since its establishment, the website for NBA-Green, the platform that represents both the WNBA and the NBA’s commitment to the environment, has basically been untouched.

The last “NBA Green Week” update came from 2010 even though the campaign claims to still be running and is actively linked on the NBA Cares website. Photos picture retired players picking weeds and looking like they are still in their prime, emphasizing the outdated-nature of the website.

While it does show semi-recent actions taken by individual team such as the 2017 Trees for Threes campaign by the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA does not seem to enforce any league-wide changes.

The website emphasizes how the NBA/WNBA does not actually care about improving the environment. Instead, the website just confirms that the initiative was what it seemed– a bandwagon effort to hop on a popular trend.

Practice what you preach.

The WNBA/NBA Green campaign emphasizes initiatives like planting trees and saving electricity. The NBA does anything but conserve electricity with 82 game seasons (not including the playoffs). Also, how do trees play into the NBA which allows teams to print paper programs  for each fan at home games?  

While I understand that these are collectible items (I have 40+ of them), I’d be willing to download it online in order to preserve the environment. Teams should too. 

Actually, make the change.

Hundreds of thunder sticks are given to fans every home game. Photo Credit: Shaheen Karolina

The WNBA/NBA allows for teams to freely give fans paper programs, thunder sticks and t-shirts. These are small things that if outlawed could add up to a very significant environmental impact. Recently, the Trail Blazers adopted biodegradable thunder sticks. The NBA could enforce these initiatives league-wide.

While some teams have taken initiative and have started to implement programs such as the San Fransisco Giants’ moment to eliminate all plastic straws and lids from its arena, a lot of teams still allow these plastics. If the league took a stance on any of these issues, it would be a simple fix with a major impact on the environment. 

Focus on programs that align with your mission.

If you aren’t going to put the time into a campaign, just don’t do it. The NBA and WNBA have other CSR programs. The WNBA does work with breast cancer awareness, and the NBA has the NBA Fit campaign, which actually does feature current players. 

Let the individual teams take stances on environmental issues if the league is not going to enforce any changes. Focus more on the issues that are relevant to your organization. It will seem more authentic and more people will care if it seems like the organization cares about the issue too.




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