USTA Green Committee preps for Earth Day, Park Week
Branching off the USTA’s overall mission to promote and develop the game of tennis, the USTA Green Committee has its own goal—to promote and develop an environmentally friendly workplace at the organization’s offices in White Plains, N.Y., Flushing Meadows, N.Y., and Orlando, Fla.
In 2008, the committee began with simple recycling efforts, placing bins throughout the USTA offices and making employees aware of being green by promoting paper-saving practices, like double-sided printing.
In the decade-plus since, the group has expanded its efforts to tennis ball recycling, shoe donations, park clean-ups, community outreach and more. Membership has also expanded, with roughly 20 employees currently involved across the three USTA office locations.
Ed Brandt, the committee’s founding sponsor, credits the top-to-bottom support of USTA leadership and employees for helping to make a difference. Executive buy-in, from CEO and Executive Director Gordon Smith on down, has made this growth possible.
“It’s very important to the USTA that we are allowing employees to take time off to do these green-related projects. Tennis, of course, is the mission … but it’s not all about that,” said Brandt, who is also the purchasing director at the White Plains office.
For Earth Day 2019 (April 22) and National Park Week (April 20-28), the Green Committee is organizing park clean-ups at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens and the Greenburgh Nature Center in White Plains. The Flushing Meadows clean-up has been a yearly tradition since 2010, while the White Plains effort began in 2018.
The USTA is also closely tied to parks throughout the country through its Community Tennis Associations (CTAs). In fact, 69 percent of USTA CTAs have a formal relationship with their local park, and 64 percent provide programming at a park.
If you’d like to volunteer in your local parks, here are some ways to get involved:
- Volunteer for underserved populations and spark an interest in the outdoors and parks.
- Many parks offer group volunteering, so you can help out your local community with friends.
- Look at your park's event schedule—these are the times that volunteers are needed most.
- Reach out or research any other organizations that partner with a local park. Getting involved with your local CTA is a great start.
You can also be green in your community, in your home and on the tennis court. Consider these fun ways to do your part:
- Instead of throwing tennis balls away, donate them to your local animal shelter or nursing home. If you have a green thumb, you can even use a tennis ball as a plant-holder. As shown in the photo gallery below, just cut an opening and fill the ball with soil and seedlings. With the help of some glue, you can use the part of the ball that you cut out as a stand.
- Take reusable water bottles with you to the tennis court to avoid the waste of single-use, disposable plastic water bottles.
- Ride a bike to the courts—when you arrive, you’ll already be warmed up. And you’ll be cutting down on vehicle emissions, too!
- Wash your gear in cold water and hang dry your clothes to conserve energy.
PHOTO GALLERY: Powered by Net Generation, our Net Set Social Influencers celebrated Earth Day on Instagram. USTA Green Committee activities are also featured.
- Jose makes a plant-holder with recycled tennis balls.
- The finished product: a tennis ball successfully recycled into a plant-holder.
- Net Set influencers use recycled tennis balls for crafts.
- USTA staffers tend to a flower bed at Flushing Meadows Park.
- Canaan makes a bird feeder out of a recycled tennis ball can.
- The USTA Green Committee organizes park clean-ups for Earth Day.
- Kialani celebrates Earth Day.
- A truck full of tennis balls ready to be recycled.
- Net Set influencer recycles tennis balls at her local facility.
- Metal lids from tennis ball cans were donated to Ronald McDonald House.
- Zizou shares the importance of Earth Day.
- Rex helps clean up trash at the beach.
- Jayden makes a flower pot from a recycled tennis ball.