Fuelled by solar panels and vegan food, the English football club wants to tackle transport emissions – and is set to build a timber stadium
A plant-based diet and a zero-emissions team bus powered the world’s greenest football team to success last season with a promotion to England’s League One.
The aptly named Forest Green Rovers is the world’s first and only vegan football club, and the first to be crowned carbon neutral by the United Nations. But it was clinching a promotion to League One in April, in only its fifth season as an English Football League club, that has truly delighted fans.
The club, based in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, boasts an organic, pesticide-free pitch and solar panels. Match days see fans tuck into plant-based grub, such as veggie pies, sausage rolls and burgers.
Meanwhile the squad’s distinctive zebra stripe kit is made from waste coffee grounds and recycled plastic, and its training regime is fuelled by vegan apple crumble, Quorn log roast dinners, and falafel takeaways.
Now Forest Green has kicked off the new season with a drive to get fans to travel to games on foot, or by public transport. It has teamed up with the mobility platform, Bolt, which is encouraging supporters to log their steps on match day via the club’s YuMuuv wellness app.
Fans who participate will be entered into a draw to win prizes, such as season tickets. Research shows that using rewards-based games to encourage positive change works.
Football as a force for positive change
Forest Green has already slashed its own transport emissions. For their promotion-winning clash away to Bristol Rovers, the team travelled in a zero-emissions vehicle – a world first for a club.
The £325,000, 48-seat electric coach was hired especially for the occasion, but the club – owned by Ecotricity entrepreneur Dale Vince – has since acquired a Renault Master E-Tech minibus, which will be put to work ferrying its academy and women’s teams between training grounds.
The ‘Green Devils’ secured their League One dream with a 0-0 draw at Bristol – but their electric ambition doesn’t end there. A proposal for a 5,000-seat, timber stadium designed by world renowned practice Zaha Hadid Architects was approved by Stroud district council in 2019, and has received a thumbs up from the English Football League.
We’ll have the lowest carbon footprint of any stadium since the Romans invented concrete
Revised plans for a wider project to include club training facilities, parkland, a biodiversity scheme, office space and a green tech business park are being considered by the council.
Forest Green’s existing ground, New Lawn, will be turned over to low carbon housing development if the project gets the go-ahead.
“From an environment point of view, 75 per cent of the carbon footprint of all stadia in their entire lifetime comes from the materials they’re made from,” Vince told Sky Sports. “It’s not about the energy used to run them, it’s embedded on day one. So we’ll have the lowest carbon footprint of any stadium anywhere in the world since the Romans invented concrete.”
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