Forest Green Rovers is the greenest football club in the world. Players are fed a vegan diet on site, an environmental sustainability message is promoted both on and off the pitch, an organic pitch is trimmed by a solar-powered lawnmower, and the club’s new home will be a stadium entirely made of wood.
The Gloucestershire club, which recently won the National League play-off final to secure their English Football League (EFL) place, is owned by green energy champion and Ecotricity founder Dale Vince.
Dale Vince rescued the football club in 2010, when he was approached by the local club for financial support. The Ecotricity founder admits he was not even a particularly keen football fan, but he saw in sport and in Forest Green the chance to promote sustainability.
He explains: “I thought it was an opportunity to take our message to a new audience. The world of football doesn’t really get spoken to on environmental issues. I thought we could use it as a new channel, and quite an unexpected one, to talk about sustainability.”
The club have stopped selling fish, no longer use cow’s milk and even the beer and cider on sale at The New Lawn Stadium is completely vegan.
Speaking of the football club’s green credentials, Dale Vince said: “One stand has solar panels, and we’re making that 20% of our electricity,” he added. “The pitch is organic and underneath it we’ve got a system of drains to capture the water and feed that goes on it, which is Scottish seaweed, so we capture it and put it back on the pitch, so we kind of recycle it.
“Out front, we’ve got charging points for electric cars so fans can drive up in their electric cars and still get home, and the food, of course, is vegan which is also another very important sustainability issue: what we eat.
“We went to Wembley without an injury in the squad and I think that must be pretty exceptional in football at that time of the season, and certainly there is a link between a vegan diet and a lack of soft tissue injuries and there must have been an element of that for us, as well as the sports science and fitness guys doing a very good job.”
Forest Green Rovers new stadium, which will be designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, will be constructed completely from wood and powered by sustainable energy sources.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea