Wildflower is a race known all over the world for its festival like atmosphere, challenging courses and some of the most energetic collegiate volunteers. It has been named “The Woodstock for Triathlon,” “The Best of the Best,” “Triathlon Back to the Basic Roots,” “Elites Favorite Race,” and more. It’s the “One and Only” Wildflower as there is nothing else like it in the world.
By: Nestor Resendiz
2018 AT&T Byron Nelson Junior Reporter
Imagine a golf tournament that had no trash cans. What if you came up to a green and there were bottles and trash everywhere? That would be awful.
That will not happen at the AT&T Byron Nelson because Blue Strike Environmental is on duty. They have a team of 40-60 people who empty trash cans from 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM every day, and then actually empty each bag of trash. They rip it open and remove every piece of trash, separating out recyclables, compost and trash. Their goal is to recycle 50% of the garbage, and divert another 20%. Divert means to repurpose things like carpet and wood. The carpet, for example, is going to be donated to people who need it. Yay!
I got all this fascinating information from Rico Tesio, CEO of Blue Strike Environmental. He estimated that each PGA Tour event produces an amount of 100-150 tons of trash. Can you believe that?!
Tessio’s team has enormous help from the company Champion. They help by picking up the garbage and compost. A lot of the compost is hot dogs, banana peels and watermelon. It smelled awful! It honestly made me feel a bit nauseous.
The awesome people helping sort the trash are volunteers from local schools or organizations such as Spruce High School Alumni Association and the Pemberton Trinity Forest Neighborhood Association. They do this work to raise money for their groups.
Final thing before I go – today was so hot we were smacking sweat off our head. But the Blue Strike Environmental team felt even hotter. I think they have one of the hardest – and most important – jobs that you can have at a PGA Tour event.
By Kathryn McKenzie, Living Green
It’s been a full decade since The Offset Project began in Monterey County, yet founder/executive director Kristin Cushman is not resting on her laurels this week. In fact, we talked as she was driving to Pebble Beach to advise on preparations for the Concours d’Elegance.
Thanks to TOP, events like the Concours and others have greatly lessened their impact on our local environment, with recyclables being recycled, materials reclaimed and reused, food waste composted and — more importantly — steps taken to mitigate the effect of events’ carbon footprints.
A fitting 10-year birthday present came last week in the form of two state grants, Cushman said. “That tells me we’ve earned respect among the state agencies,” she said. “People are seeing the value in what we’re trying to do.”
Cushman was inspired to create TOP in 2007 while working in event management and seeing first-hand the need to sustainably deal with the waste that resulted from large events. She realized that she could make a difference.
“There were no environmental programs (of that type) here,” she said. “We were pioneers.”
A crowd of classic car enthusiasts on the 18th hole fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links during the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017. (Vern Fisher - Monterey Herald)
The Offset Project is a nonprofit organization, but it’s quite business-oriented in the way it approaches sustainability. Part of TOP’s mission is to show how environmental management of events can be less costly than doing it the old-fashioned way. It’s something referred to as “the triple bottom line,” in which a business or organization unites social, environmental and financial growth.
For instance, TOP helped the Big Sur Marathon curb its waste problem so that despite the fact that there are 10,000 runners, only two bags of trash are generated. “This helped reduce litter issues, hauling fees and created a community story to share with other local events,” says the TOP website, www.theoffsetproject.org.
TOP helps these events with recycling — setting up the proper bins and signage, for instance — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Proper planning at the beginning can also minimize waste and aid in making better choices.
“It seems simple now, but 10 years ago, this was all new,” said Cushman of sustainably managing events. And she’s always pushing for more, noting that she would be working with “deconstruction” at the Concours. Instead of bulldozing structures created for the event, they would instead be dismantled and the materials reused.
Another service TOP provides is management of a carbon offset fund, where individuals, businesses and other nonprofits are able to mitigate their carbon footprint. At www.montereybaycarboncalculator.org, you can make a calculation of what the carbon cost would be for a particular event and make a donation; money from the fund goes to help local solar and education projects.
TOP has helped just about every big event in the country become more sustainable, from the Monterey Jazz Festival to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and also assists local cities, counties and other entities. Cushman’s hope is that the lessons from TOP will simply become part of event organization, “so we don’t have to come in as a third party” to manage sustainability.
That will give TOP more leeway to go on to new and exciting programs, such as providing food waste education for chefs and restaurants, and doing more with the energy market in the region to encourage people to choose power made from renewable resources such as solar.
Cushman praised her board of directors, headed by Anjanette Adams, owner of Monterey Signs. “We couldn’t have done all this without a strong board,” she said.
And you, too, can support TOP at its upcoming fundraiser — the “Cruise for Climate” whale watching trip on Sept. 10. To sign up, call 375-4658; cost is $57 per person, and all proceeds will be donated to TOP. More information is available at gowhales.com/CruiseForClimate.htm.
Sustainable hospitality has a major influence on engaging businesses with our local community.
People want to be involved with the community they are visiting. They want to feel like they contributed or experienced something that is unique. In turn, businesses are realizing that having a positive social impact on the communities where they work, helps their bottom line. What can you do as a business or organization to be better stewards of the earth? How can you support the local community and the planet while still achieving good financial health? Considering all these factors allows businesses to build a brand that will attract more customers.
Protecting and supporting the natural environment is the first step in achieving true sustainable hospitality. Businesses can offer their customers a connection to local environmental issues and education. For example, utilization of the Seafood Watch card is one of the leading programs that combine tourism with local environmental issues. This program allows member restaurants to highlight local conservation efforts on their menus. Beyond the popular whale watching tours, Big Sur Land Trust offers scheduled hikes to learn about coastal land conservation and The Offset Project offers volunteer opportunities to engage with environmental certification efforts at local special events such as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am or the Big Sur Marathon.
A second step for businesses is to develop programs that can interact, impact and improve their communities. If a business can make the community a better place, than they will have a story to tell that is unique and separates them from other businesses. Legacies projects can include the protection and conservation of socio-cultural heritage and environmental resources, the sustainable development of local communities and local infrastructure, as well as job creation for locals. For example, Peter B’s Brewery partners with local at risk youth to grow hops for their hand crafted beer. Incoming conferences can participate in “gleaning” programs where visitors visit local fields to pick leftover vegetables for the homeless. In some cases, profits are reinvested into a local project. In Monterey County, the California Roots Festival is donating $1.00 for each ticket sold and investing the funds into an electric vehicle charging station at the event grounds. This allows festival attendees better access to the event and contributes to public awareness around electric vehicles.
If you are visiting and want to get involved in Monterey County’s local sustainable hospitality projects, please contact Kristin Cushman at Kristin@theoffsetproject.org.
COUNCIL FOR RESPONSIBLE SPORT RECOGNIZES EVENT WITH ‘GOLD CERTIFICATION’
For the third consecutive year, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am has received the prestigious Gold Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport. Hosted by the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, the tournament has become a model for other PGA TOUR events by establishing itself as a reliable leader in environmental protection.
In conjunction with key partners including Pebble Beach Company and The Offset Project, the AT&T Pro-Am introduced key composting and re-use strategies three years ago in an effort to achieve high standards of waste diversion. The “green” commitment has since been expanded and enhanced, and resulted in the Council’s gold certification honor in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“Monterey Peninsula Foundation remains committed to improving the health and sustainability of our community,” said Steve John, Monterey Peninsula Foundation CEO and tournament director. “It is imperative we continue to focus on conservation and resource management.”
According to Shelley Villalobos, Certification Director for the Council for Responsible Sport, the 2016 Gold Certification required a huge amount of sustained effort from the entire event management team.
“With this gold level recertification, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am team has shown a strong commitment to both rigor and transparency—qualities that have helped them advance their performance in many aspects of hosting a more sustainable event, from waste management and diversion to procurement and creating a lasting legacy in the community. This is a tournament to be embraced and celebrated,” Villalobos said.
The environmental accomplishments achieved during the 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am included:
Just two other tournaments on the PGA TOUR – the Shell Houston Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open – have earned certification status from Council for Responsible Sport.