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Palafox helps Sun Devil Athletics go green

March 15, 2013

After an ACL injury forced her to sit out the 2011 gymnastics season, captain Kahoku Palafox hasn’t wasted any time getting back on the mats in 2013. 

Then again, she hasn’t ever wasted much of anything.

She recently graduated magna cum laude with a degree in sustainability, so she knows about preserving resources – and wants to help others do the same.

“It just comes second nature to me now and it really should to others,” she said.

And she’s taking the fight to save the planet into her own chalked-up hands – and her own backyard. She recently submitted a case study  to the Green Sports Alliance that outlined Sun Devil Athletics’ sustainability and conservation practices.

The study details how ASU incorporates “green” practices into every aspect of SDA’s operations. These include zero-waste games and energy conservation efforts.

Zero-waste games provide only recycling and compost bins to dispose of waste at sporting events. This shows Sun Devil Athletics commitment to sustainable practices because, just as little as seven years ago, the only means of disposing waste was in trash receptacles.

“Even having [the zero-waste] initiative has really started to open people’s eyes to [going Green],” Palafox said.

As Palafox states in her case study, the largest sustainable impacts was made at the biggest Sun Devil Athletics sporting event: football games. SDA increased the recycling rate at football games from 0 tons in 2007 to 40.89 tons in 2011.

“In such a short amount of time I feel like that’s been such a great stepping stone,” Palafox said. “Imagine where we’ll be in the next six years?” 

SDA hopes that this success will translate over to other athletic events as well, and already several programs are embracing their inherent competitive natures. Women’s gymnastics, for example, is trying to exceed the waste-diversion percentage set by women’s basketball in the team’s green game in February. The lady ballers set a high mark of 86 percent in the first zero-waste event , and the Gym Devils are hoping to best the mark in their upcoming Green Meet with 90% waste-diversion. 

SDA (along with Arizona State University as a whole) has also installed solar panels and altered their light fixtures to be more conducive, according to Palafox’s study. She also found that the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center is using 14 times less energy than it had before its recent renovation that included the installation of 51 new underwater 70-watt LED lights.

Palafox’s passion and the success of Sun Devil Athletics sustainability initative will all be highlighted at Friday’s Green Meet, where the Gym Devils will promote Arizona State University’s ultimate goal of zero waste by 2015.

The gymnasts will wear green warm-up shirts and green ribbons in their hair. They’ll also provide green 10.0 cards with sustainability facts on them. Only recyclable concessions will be sold and only recycling and compost bins will be available for waste, which the team hopes will help achieve the goal of 90% waste diversion.

“The mere exposure of the initiative is so powerful,” Palafox said. “It could have a huge impact…once fans see it here, they can take it other places. If even one person can educate another person about what we saw…that gets the ball rolling.”