Yes, green beer WILL be poured tomorrow around the world to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint, the Irish and those who wish they were, just for the day. And although many NHL teams embrace the green every March, with stores are full of green gear, the NHL is far more serious about green than just St. Patrick’s Day.

The truth is, the NHL has taken a leadership role in sustainability and the environment and is really a model for not just the fans, but other sport leagues too. This week, the NHL and its franchises are showcasing their green initiatives during “Green Week”,  taking the sustainability message to its fans and telling the world they really mean green.

What It Means To Be Green

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says his league’s green initiatives are making a difference. This week, Bettman held a press conference to talk about those initiatives and the NHL’s view of being green.

“We think it’s important to get our fans, our business partners, our players, our clubs to focus on the importance of sustainability. This is our opportunity to use our game and the myriad of things we do as a platform to get the right amount of attention of what’s important in the environment,” Bettman says.

About the Planet – and the Business of Hockey

Omar Mitchell, NHL vice president of corporate and social responsibility for NHL Green, says it’s as much about helping the planet as it is about helping the business of hockey.

“We have a long history for our sport,” Mitchell said, referencing the NHL’s upcoming centennial. “We want to make sure our sport continues for the next hundred years.”

Green Power

The NHL is one of the leading users of green power. In fact, it NHL ranks 20th on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s National Top 100 list of largest users of green power, and last year, the EPA awarded the NHL with a Partner award for its green initiatives.

EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, is proud of what the NHL has done so far and thinks other professional leagues should follow its lead.

“Obviously people in pro sports are very competitive, so let’s get them juiced up,” she said. “Ask them, ‘If the NHL can do it, why can’t Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association or the National Football League?’,” McCarthy said.

The NHL has been taking a big look at its league’s carbon footprint finding ways to reduce it by recycling, composting, donating and upcycling. Food waste is something that no one wants, from the fan in the stadium to the fans at home, and it’s been a target the NHL is getting under control. Last year, they were able to keep over 120,000 meals out of the landfill by packaging them and delivering them hot to soup kitchens, but a variety of teams are dealing with food waste in different ways. The Bell Centre in Montreal recycles and composts about 80% of leftover materials; Air Canada Centre in Toronto is taking organic waste and converting it to water.

Text “NHL” to 77177

Speaking of water, the Staples Center (home of the LA Kings) has installed waterless urinals, and the NHL is working with a foundation to restore over 50 MILLION GALLONS OF WATER to rivers and streams. To kick off green week, they pledged to restore 7.5 million gallons of water to the Colorado River. That number equals about how much water needed for one arena for one game. But they know they can do even more. That’s why, for every fan that pledges to conserve water, the League will restore 1,000 gallons more. Text “NHL” to 77177.

I’ve talked about some of the NHL’s green initiatives before, which includes transitioning rinks to LED lighting (Ottawa and Nashville); as well as keeping broken sticks out of landfills by sending them to repurposers (Hat Trick BBQ, Original Stix and Re-cyc Hockey).  But this week, the NHL is really showcasing what they’ve done, what there vision is – and passing it on to the fans so we can recognize things we’re doing, and make a positive impact on our environment.