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May 29, 2019

How Cricket Is Becoming Sustainable: Tanya Aldred

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 third of a four part series Verve talks to Tanya Aldred who is championing sustainable practices to ensure that, moving forward, spectators can expect a clean game

TANYA ALDRED
Freelance Journalist

This UK-based sports writer has extensively covered the impact of the environment on cricket and is also credited with starting the Twitter handle @TheNextTest, in order to disseminate information about the cause and act as a pressure group on the authorities.

Why did you choose that particular name for the Twitter handle?
It had has a cricket connection, and I do believe that protecting our environment is the next test for humanity. If we don’t manage to do something about it, we’re going to be in massive trouble.

What prompted you to start it?
I’ve been interested in the environment since I was a kid. I grew up in the ’80s when there was a worry about the ozone and CFCs, but I was the kind of person who signed petitions or joined organisations instead of doing anything proactive.

It sort of struck me three or four years ago, at a T20 game at Old Trafford, where I went as a spectator with my children — I saw the amount of waste generated. I wrote a piece about it, and that’s how I got involved.

Is it surprising that we haven’t talked more about the impact of cricket on our environment?
Yes. I suppose cricket has gone through a transformation. When it entered the commercial era, there was, in certain cases, more emphasis on the money-making aspects of the game. If you’re trying to please sponsors, other issues are neglected — disabled access, women’s cricket, the lack of representation of the South Asian community in cricket in England. Over the last 10 to 15 years, there have been changes with respect to these things, but sustainability is still the elephant in the room.

Thanks to some of your work, some cricket grounds are moving on from single-use plastic cups. Are we seeing the death of the beer snake?
Some crowds are saying that, and it is upsetting a number of fans. Beer snakes became a nightmare for some clubs, as they had to keep going into the crowds to break them up. It’s a little tradition that is going to be lost, but I don’t think there will be too many tears over it from the majority of people.

What are some of the changes you’d like to witness?
Cricket involves flying teams to different parts of the world, and you can plan tours such that they become greener. Maybe in the future, we will have carbon budgets which will end up limiting the number of flights a team can take — I can see that coming. The environmental and financial angles should carry equal weight; we also need to consider how much any decision will cost the environment.

Read Part two with Juhi Chawla here

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