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May 28, 2019

How Cricket Is Becoming Sustainable: Juhi Chawla

Text by Snehal Pradhan. Illustration by Kashmira Sarode

Cricket — perhaps the ground sport most affected by weather conditions and consequently climate change — is in danger of muddying its legacy thanks to a showy capitalistic 21st-century avatar, which poses a threat to the same environmental stability it counts on. In the second of a 4-part series Verve talks to Juhi Chawla who is championing sustainable practices to ensure that, moving forward, spectators can expect a clean game

JUHI CHAWLA
Co-owner, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)

She first banned plastic at her home, switching to glass, steel, even ceramic (if someone brought home a plastic bag, they were fined 20 rupees). Then she took the same approach to her office at Red Chillies Entertainment. Now she is spearheading environment friendly efforts at Kolkata Knight Riders, where she is a co-owner.

How has KKR been trying to factor in sustainability on match days?
The first step we took was to stop the distribution of flags with plastic sticks. We replaced them with sticks made out of recycled paper. Subsequently, we requested our sponsors to only distribute non-plastic giveaways at Eden Gardens. The emission avoidance was further complemented by the tree-planting activity ‘Plant a 6’, where one tree was planted for every six hit during the 2017 and 2018 matches at Eden. A total of 175 trees were planted at Nalban Park in Kolkata with the help of local school students.

How much waste went to landfills on match days before you started these initiatives, and how much goes now?
Prior to 2017, 90 per cent of the waste ended up in landfills. At the end of the 2017 season, out of the total 20,606 kilograms of segregated waste generated, around 19,173 kilograms could be successfully recycled and a mere 6.8 per cent was sent to landfills. We were also able to garner the support of community members for our recycling efforts, and a big percentage of the waste was recycled and reused, with the rest given to licensed recyclers. In 2018, 4,897 kilograms of organic waste was converted to compost; and 9,694 kilograms of paper and cardboard, 3,776 kilograms of plastic and 1,491 kilograms of metal were recovered and recycled.

How hard is it to convince the fans about waste segregation?
Awareness is the key to sustain any environmental initiative. We are consistently spreading awareness through our social media platforms, and we try to incorporate it across our marketing and digital communications as well. We also use signage in the stadium to promote the same.

Do you feel the Indian Premier League (IPL) has a responsibility towards leading the way in introducing sustainability practices in cricket?
Yes, definitely. It is one of the biggest sports leagues in the world, and the possibilities of introducing sustainability practices in the IPL are endless. During my travels across India and abroad, I looked at the practices followed by other sports and venues. The National Basketball Association (NBA) has some excellent green initiatives, and we hope to follow in their footsteps.

Read Part one with Russel Seymour here

Read Part three with Tanya Aldred here

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