Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chris Dickerson - So Fresh and So Green

Chris Dickerson made his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds last year at the age of 26. In 31 games Dickerson impressed - hitting .306 with 6 home runs in just over 100 at bats. Equally impressive was his defense. Spending time at each of the three outfield positions, Dickerson played stellar defense. He committed no errors on the season, and effortlessly caught balls that Adam Dunn could never dream of catching. Going into the 2009 season, Dickerson is expected to get most of the playing time for the Reds in left field.

But Dickerson is gaining attention and admiration for other reasons. Dickerson has taken on an opponent much bigger than even the mighty Yankees - climate change and the environment. Much like his skills on the field, Dickerson's advocacy for the environment started well before he reached the major leagues. While playing for the Louisville Bats, the Reds AAA affiliate, he was inspired by Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth." Wanting to make a difference, Dickerson looked around the club house and saw an opportunity. He was taken aback by the amount of plastic bottles that he and his teammates were carelessly sending to landfills. In response, he implemented a bottle-recycling program that quickly caught on with his teammates. Not satisfied, Dickerson took it one step further. He contacted Sigg, a Swiss maker of eco-friendly aluminum bottles, and convinced them to donate 30 reusable bottles for his teammates.

Dickerson's efforts drew some attention from the media. As word of his eco-friendly clubhouse spread, other athletes became interested in similar activities. With the help of MLB pitcher Jack Cassel, Dickerson started the website, a non-profit organization with a mission to bring pro athletes together and create more environmental conservation.

When I came across his website, I immediately sent an email to express how impressed I was with his efforts. I asked a few questions, and Chris Dickerson was kind enough to answer. Here's our conversation:

Kerry - What inspired you to get involved in the “green” movement?

Dickerson - Growing up in California I was always aware of the environmental issues that face our planet -- pollution of the ocean, air quality of Los Angeles, and recycling. When I was younger we had multiple bins in the house. A yellow box for recycling newspapers, blue trash can for recycling plastic and glass, green trash can for recycling any of the grass clippings and yard work, and a black trash can for general waste.
As I got older, I would take great interest in problems like the O-Zone layer and the "thing" they called global warming, but after I watched, "An Inconvenient Truth" I saw the severity of the problem and felt I could do something about it.

Kerry- Can you tell us about your efforts, your website, and how we can help?

Dickerson - The idea behind it is, we want to use professional athletes that are green-conscious to help raise awareness to fans about the importance of going green and to little by little implement eco-friendly ways of going about their own lives. I originally got started on the whole subject in the fall last year. I started watching documentaries and reading articles and different literature on the subject. I continued on with that in into the season, which led to me starting the recycling initiative in the locker room. The company itself was a result of the positive response I received from the front office and friends after the many articles came about with what I started. I then got called up to the Big Leagues and noticed that I had already acquired a couple of fan clubs. On the cardboard signs was the recycling symbol. It then got me thinking that fans do care about this and I felt that I could reach out to them as well as the other Major League teams.
Through my research and an odd sequence of events, almost like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, something or someone was trying to say something to me. One day at the airport, I saw the Time magazine's special environmental issue, "How to Win The War On Global Warming." Two days later a commercial involving a woman going to bed with a bottles of water, with the captions indicating that most people have a bottle of water by their bedside for a comfortable sleep. This caption read, "8 hours of good sleep". The next caption for the water bottle read, "=1,000 years in a landfill". I couldn't believe that it took that long to break down. Through research I found that even when the bottles does break down it emits carbon emissions back into the atmosphere, thus increasing greenhouse gasses. The following week in the airport I picked the month's issue of GQ and the first page I flip to is an ad for SIGG water bottles, Swiss engineered reusable water bottles, sleek aluminum, and tough as nails. This got me thinking, "How much plastic use can we reduce if we used these on a daily basis?". I sent a press inquiry to the company through their website letting them know what I was trying to accomplish, and if they would be willing to help by donating bottles for the team. Unfortunately, they were limited edition bottles that were designed by the Stop Global Warming Foundation. The proceeds from the bottles were to given to this fund and would not be able to be donated. This email was then passed to the upper management. They responded that they loved my efforts and would love to help in any way possible. A week later they sent 35 bottles, one for every player, coach, and staff member. The wheels were in motion. With all the success and the great response of the bottles and the initiative both SIGG and I agreed that this would be a great partnership, here we are, WEPLAYGREEN and SIGG in the battle against greenhouse gasses.Immediate goals are to outfit all the Major League teams with the bottles as an alternative to using plastic. Working in conjunction with the efforts of the NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council) to green baseball.
* Encourage kids and the community that support these teams to implement green methods into their own lifestyles. Reusable shopping bags, changing their light bulbs, recycling, taking the train, or riding one of the city's hybrid buses that are being rolled out all over the country.
Through our High School and University section: Encourage colleges and universities to follow weplaygreen's initiative to "greening" the fields of play and it's facilities.
* Encourage young athletes to start making a change for themselves, on the field, in their own lockerooms and dugouts. Doing projects in the classroom as well as extracurricular activities that involve eco-friendly causes.
* Recycling drives
* Recycling in the cafeteria and recycling their old sports equipment.

We also have a donate section where fan and companies and can donate to the cause, as well will turn it back around and provide local high school and university athletic programs with recycling bins and reusable water bottles.


I'd like to thank Chris Dickerson for his efforts and taking the time to speak with little old me. I encourage everyone to visit his site, and do anything you can to contribute.

You can find Chris at

1 comment:

  1. yo kerry I like the story. I have started my own blog based on Ohio State-check it out.