Eco-Inspiration – Hockey Goes Green with NHL Green

As a girl who was raised in a sports town like Boston it was virtually impossible to avoid growing up a fan of at least one professional sport. Now that the NHL is back on the ice (YEA!) I’ve been hearing even more about the NHL Green initiative launched on January 1, 2010. 

Sports in general have a whole lot of waste – from equipment to concessions, water for icing down injuries to lots of cross-country travel and more. So to learn that the sport of hockey was starting to pay attention and attempting to be more environmentally responsible makes me one very proud fan.


Five years ago I went to a Bruins game at The Garden and was thrilled to learn they had installed recycling bins all over the arena for plastic bottles and cups as a first step in trying to go Green. Since the arena is used for basketball as well as a myriad of other activities this program was one that would be felt and seen at many more events than just hockey games. Then in May of 2011 the Bruins were awarded the Environmental Merit Award from the EPA for their outstanding efforts in environmental preservation and humanitarian efforts involving reclaiming unused concession food to be donated to the hungry in the community. But the Bruins are just one team, the league needed the reach to go further.

The NHL Green initiative is active in water replenishment, equipment recycling and reducing carbon footprints by planting trees.


For every goal that’s scored this season the NHL will restore 1,000 gallons of fresh water to critically dewatered rivers. By the end of even this short 48 game season that could add up to millions of gallons. Last season saw 6,726 total goals scored in 80+ games. That translates into 6.7 million gallons of water being restored!

But the preservation doesn’t stop there. Another effort is championed by one very vocal eco player, Andrew Ference, who has pledged to plant fifty trees for every goal his teammate Tyler Seguin scores this season. Ference is an avid tweeter (@Ferknuckle) but tends to post more environmental information than anything having to do with hockey in his feed. He’s a Green leader in the league and through his tremendous efforts he’s encouraged many other players to open their eyes to the ways the NHL can be more environmentally responsible.

Something to keep in mind about this goal of Andy’s – Seguin played overseas during the NHL lockout this season and scored 23 goals in 25 games. Give the kid 48 games and I can only imagine what he could accomplish! Suppose he scores 30 goals during this half season. Between Ference planting 1500 trees and Gallons for Goals replenishing 30,000 gallons of water to critically dry rivers, the planet will be feeling the effects of the NHL’s Green initiative for years to come. And this is only one season and one man’s pledge. Imagine if one player from every team got on board with doing the same?


The last piece of the puzzle for NHL Green is what to do with all the used or broken equipment that the league goes through at an outrageous rate. One of the biggest offenders of landfill over-abundance are broken sticks.

In the early days of hockey, sticks were made of wood. And though it’s a slow growing resource it’s also a naturally renewing one. These days most players prefer to skate and shoot with a lighter and more flexible stick made of composite material. The only problem is they tend to break much faster and that can leave hundreds of bits of plastic filling up landfills every game. Now Total Hockey has launched Hockey Green as a way to encourage players to recycle those sticks instead of throwing them away.

For every stick recycled the player will receive a $10 credit toward the purchase of a new stick. Even if they forget to bring their stick along when they go to buy a new one the player has 90 days to bring it in and receive the credit. Total Hockey will use the broken sticks to research and develop a way to reuse the fibers to make new sticks – a process which is not yet discovered but is seen to be in great need.


As sports arenas, teams and even individual players like Andy Ference jump on board with doing their part to make their world a more ecologically responsible place, it gives cause for this Greenie and long-time hockey fan to rejoice!

• • •

Sport Necklace from dustDesignCo
Cowboy and Hockey Player Game Pieces from GrannysThimble
Reclaimed Wood Sign from RusticCarvings
Souvenir Postcard from AtticEmporium
Celebrate Card from DustbinCards 

Jenn Flynn-Shon is an Author of two fiction novels featuring strong female lead characters and is a frequent Guest Poster on various blogs. She has been a member of Team EcoEtsy for over five years. Learn more on her website.

For information on the 2013 half-season NHL schedule click here

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  1. Amazing!

  2. UPDATE:

    Morning Greenies! I wasn’t aware until this morning that the Trees for Goals initiative was actually started by the blog Stanley Cup of Chowder as a challenge to Andy Ference and that Andy turned around and said because his numbers are much lower he’d donate for Seguin’s goals instead. (Defensemen tend to score less than forwards) Now it looks like the NHL itself is on board with donations of even more trees! For every hat trick (3 goals in one game by the same player) scored this season the league will donate 50 trees to be planted, in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy, to re-forest Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. Right on! I love this effort put out by the league and I’ll be watching to see how many hat tricks are scored during the regular season and playoffs. Let’s get planting & Green up the planet!

    For more on this you can read the post here:

    What would get you to donate trees?

  3. very cool Jenn!

  4. I don’t understand the idea of “water replenishment”. Where does the water come from that is being restored into rivers? We have a set amount of water on the globe and there is a serious problem with diverting water to cities and farms that eventually gets misused and junked up with chemicals. It’s fantastic to think of restoring water to a river!! I’m just skeptical. :)

    • Thanks for commenting Desiree!

      It isn’t so much that the NHL is going to physically place water back into these rivers and streams as work with the people that are on the banks of rivers and streams, as well as the local governments, in efforts to reduce water over-consumption (land owners which will include residential and commercial as well as big business and small business). The owners of the land will be able to utilize what they need but leave what they don’t need so it can continue on its fresh water path. They are not diverting water and not collecting from other places to put water into these rivers. Its more about education than anything else.

      In addition the league has instituted reduction of water consumption in all its facilities across North America and they are tracking the differences (which also includes waste and energy tracking). The work is being done in partnership with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s (BEF) Water Restoration Certificate Program. For more info on BEF & the Water cert you can read about them here:

      More about this comes from education and awareness for ways to reduce consumption than physically taking water from one place and putting it in another. Thanks for your comment!

      – Jenn