Resource use of sport activities – Implications for consumption and production
Michael Lettenmeier1,2,3, Christa Liedtke2,4, Holger Rohn5,6,2
1Aalto University, Finland; 2Wuppertal Institut, Germany; 3D-mat ltd., Finland; 4Folkwang University of the Arts, Germany; 5Faktor 10 – Institut für nachhaltiges Wirtschaften gGmbH, Germany; 6Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Sport activities connect people. They have health, social and ecological impacts, affecting the society, people and the ecosystems. Sports are related to lifestyles and require natural resources. The equipment, the venues and the related trips can have considerable footprints. For example, a health club visit requires 6kg/hour of material resources, a swimming hall 11, and a golf course 47kg/hour, respectively. These values still exclude the resources for the trips to the activities the footprints of which often exceed the footprints for commuting to work. Although domestic leisure activities like watching TV or using computers are less resource-intensive than sports per hour of activity, they require even more resources than sport activities on a yearly basis per person.
The paper analyses and describes the role of sport activities in the use of natural resources. Examples are presented, options for a sustainable resource use in sports discussed, and recommendations developed. Replacing leisure activities by less resource-consuming ones is reasonable both in terms of environment and social activities. Resource politics aim at reducing natural resource use while keeping up a quality of life as high as possible. Therefore, they should also consider sports and their value chains.
As a part of consumption, sport can play a role in communicating and developing more sustainable lifestyles. Designing sport equipment and sport-related services sustainable can provide a relevant contribution also for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Leisure activities increase with the resource use of countries, which emphasises the resource-efficient design of sport-related products and services. Functional materials and sport devices should be designed for resource-efficiency and circularity as well as the venues and their use. Good practices already exist and can even have a huge social relevance, e.g. renting equipment with respect to the sharing economy.