NEW YORK, N.Y. (Monday, April 18, 2022) – MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s social responsibility platform, announced today the launch of the 5th Annual Greener Goals Week of Service. Returning in-person for the first time since 2019, League-wide efforts will continue through Earth Day weekend, raising awareness about environmental issues in the soccer community.
Committed to taking steps to address its environmental impact and raise awareness of sustainability initiatives within local communities, MLS continues to explore opportunities to reduce non-renewable energy use, as well as measure and help to offset a portion of emissions associated with League and Club travel including airfare, accommodations and ground transportation for the regular MLS season, playoffs, and MLS Cup. MLS is investing in carbon credits that help offset harmful CO2 emissions and aim to create tangible high value conservation benefits in both domestic and international communities.
Since 2018, MLS has helped offset more than 28,000 tons of CO2 – the equivalent of 42,000 flights from San Jose to Montreal or 22,500 road trips from Vancouver to Miami, according to the League’s carbon credit partner South Pole. By partnering with South Pole and Sport and Sustainability International, the League has measured and helped to offset a portion of MLS CO2 emissions by investing high-quality carbon credits. These carbon credits have helped offset more than 1,250,000 tons of CO2 emissions on average each year since 2018. Credits were derived from the distribution of more than 4,400 emissions-reducing cookstoves throughout communities in Kenya and Zambia and the Envira Tropical Forest Conservation project in Brazil’s Amazon basin which protects 39,300 hectares of tropical forests from logging and encroaching cattle ranches.
MLS has also joined forces with One Tree Planted to support reforestation projects. As part of the partnership, 27,000 trees have been planted throughout North America since 2021. Additionally, through April 24, 2022, One Tree Planted and MLS will team up to plant one tree for each fan tweet that tags @MLSWorks and includes the hashtag #GreenerGoals, up to 1,000 trees per MLS club and up to 28,000 trees total.
Throughout Greener Goals Week of Service, office staff from all 28 MLS clubs and the League will volunteer their time and give back to conduct environmentally friendly projects in partnership with local charitable organizations.
League-driven Greener Goals initiatives include:
- Fans can also support the League’s reforestation efforts. For every fan tweet that tags @MLSWORKS and #GreenerGoals, MLS and One Tree Planted will plant a tree in national forests across the United States and Canada, planting up to 28,000 trees total and 1,000 trees for each MLS community where our matches are played. This will mark the reforestation of up to 69 acres of land, which can provide benefits such as cleaner air, water, stabilized soils, and improved biodiversity.
- MLS will also invest carbon credits in partnership with South Pole to support the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority in northeast Tennessee. Doe Mountain is one of the largest remaining areas of privately-owned forest in the Southern Blue Ridge region, at over 3,400 hectares. Through more sustainable and efficient forestry techniques, the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority helps steward the land, maintaining a healthy balance of recreation-based ecotourism by regulating public access to the area. Improved forestry management practices enable the Doe Mountain forests to continue storing carbon and help preserve the region’s freshwater ecosystems, which act as natural water filters and support an abundance of plant and animal species. Habitats within the region are home to 40 rare, threatened, and endangered plants, and animal species. They also maintain health populations of deer, turkey and black bears.
- The combined impact of the League’s 2022 One Tree Planted partnership and carbon credits supporting the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority (measured over a 20-year period) is the equivalent to the average automotive vehicle driving nearly 5.8 million miles, according to South Pole.
- MLS is also collaborating with adidas to help give your gear a future. Through the adidas Give Back program, fans can receive a gift certificate/code for adidas stores and adidas.com by donating gently used clothes and shoes (from any brand) that can then be resold or reused, helping to keep gear in play and keep plastic waste out of landfills. In-stadium activations will take place in select MLS markets
- The League continues to explore ways to measure its environmental impact at MLS stadiums and to engage fans and provide resources for clubs to identify opportunities to reduce single use plastics and promote recycling and composting.
- MLS is also partnering with the Green Sports Alliance to launch its Play to Zero campaign to measure environmental impact at stadiums in collaboration with our clubs. The new sustainability tool will help shed light on the environmental impacts made of MLS business and provide MLS teams and venues the opportunity to benchmark environmental performances where matches are played and inform future programs aimed at reducing environmental impacts of the sport of soccer.
MLS club-driven activations are outlined below.
The greening of our game will encourage MLS clubs, players, partners, and fans to give back to our communities and raise awareness for environmental responsibility. For more information on Greener Goals, including sustainability tips, MLS club efforts around Earth Day and the League’s efforts to help address its carbon footprint, visit MLSsoccer.com/MLSWORKS or follow @MLSWORKS on social platforms.
On Monday, April 18, Atlanta United will invite 20 Atlanta Public School students for an educational program in partnership with Georgia Aquarium and Trees Atlanta called Reuse, Regrow presented by Southwire. Students will learn about recycling, the impact of plastic pollution, and the effects of the water cycle on our global climate, as well as the importance of urban planting. On Saturday, April 23, the same group of students alongside Atlanta United associates, will volunteer with Trees Atlanta on a forest restoration project to help promote a healthy plant community and sustainable forest. This will be the first of many volunteer events that Atlanta United and Trees Atlanta will partner on while the team wears the Forest Kit over the next two seasons. The goal is to plant up to 1,000 trees throughout the Atlanta area as a part of the club’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
Austin FC and the club’s sustainability partner YETI today launched GO VERDE! Week, a series of sustainability initiatives highlighted by a litter pick-up at Austin’s iconic Lady Bird Lake on Earth Day, April 22. The series of events aligns both with Major League Soccer’s Greener Goals week and with Austin FC and YETI’s commitment to sustainability. Austin FC’s home Q2 Stadium received LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in November 2021 for the commitment to sustainability undertaken in the stadium’s construction and design. The stadium features a number of innovative sustainability efforts, including electric vehicle charging stations, 140 solar panels on its southern roof, and a policy which allows fans to bring in an empty 30-ounce reusable vessel and fill it up with free water, eliminating the need for single-use plastic bottles.
Charlotte Football Club’s mission is to be a unifying force that is bigger than one city and encourages a sense of belonging through a progressive, collective and ambitious approach that guides efforts on and off the pitch. The club partners with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina (SHMETROLINA) to combat food waste and insecurity throughout the Carolinas. SHMETROLINA serves a total of 24 counties throughout North and South Carolina that supply food and grocery items to assist people in need. After every home match, unused food is properly stored and distributed to local food banks.
The Chicago Fire will partner with a local organization as the Club aims to improve and beautify one of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. Chicago Fire staff, alumni and select members of the first team will work hand-in-hand with members of the community to help landscape, paint, and freshen up a neighborhood school and the surrounding area.
The Colorado Rapids will volunteer at local organizations and assist with community projects rooted in sustainability. Club players, coaches and staff will work with the City and County of Denver and the Greenway Foundation to plant and mulch trees across three parks in the Denver area during the week of April 18. These volunteer days will culminate with the Rapids’ “Sustainability Night” on Saturday, April 23.
On Wednesday, April 20, Columbus Crew will team up with Rumpke, Local Matters, Columbus Recreation and Parks as well as supporters and local community members to perform a park and garden cleanup at Blackburn Community Center. The event will feature other community organizations on-site, including Columbus Division of Police, which will bring its Therapy K-9 Unit and Mounted Unit, as well as a medical van, to conduct health screenings, OBGYN services and vaccinations. Representatives from Blackburn Community Center, Rumpke, Local Matters and Columbus Recreation and Parks will all be in attendance to address the volunteers. As part of this community celebration, pizza will be served and Crew mascots Crew Cat and SC will be present as kids play in the Blackburn mini-pitch that the Club installed in 2020.
On Saturday, April 16, D.C. United hosted a pre-match e-recycling drive powered by ForestPlanet on Audi Drive, where fans could bring small unwanted electronic items, including phones, laptops, tablets and more. Every recycled item contributes to the planting of ten new trees in a reforestation project funded in full by Audi. Additionally, thanks to Audi, for every fan who attended on April 16, a tree will be planted by ForestPlanet. Upon exiting the match, 5,000 plantable kraft kit boxes were distributed to fans, made from 100% recycled materials and containing seeds to plant marigolds or wildflowers. D.C. United is also teaming up with the Southwest BID and GOODProjects for the reopening of three community Peace Gardens and a neighborhood cleanup. Both events are centered on beautifying and transforming centrally located community spaces. Furthermore, the club will participate in the adidas Giveback Program in partnership with the league.
FC Cincinnati players, staff and fans will come together to support two local service projects. They will partner with their neighbors in the West End with a community garden rehab project with the Civic Garden Center. Secondly, they will participate in a violet blossom picking alongside the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. This conservation public engagement opportunity will convert the blossoms into a small batch beer that will be sold to support local nonprofits, and will be used as a PSA to encourage people to let violets and dandelions live in their yards as one of the best food sources for pollinators.
FC Dallas staff will volunteer their time at Hugs Greenhouse on Wednesday, April 20. Hugs Greenhouse is an extension of Hugs Café, a local nonprofit whose mission is to enhance the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through training and support. Hugs Greenhouse is the newest employment program from Hugs Café Inc. that focuses on training and educating adults with special needs on gardening, retail sales and socialization within the community. FC Dallas staff will assist with planting seedlings and additional property maintenance projects.
Players, staff and supporters of Houston Dynamo Football Club will take part in a beautification project at Buffalo Bayou on Tuesday, April 19. The project is supported by Texas Pride Disposal, who partnered with the club in 2021 to revitalize Emancipation Park. Volunteers will help with removing invasive plants, weeding, planting native vegetation, and picking up trash and debris in the heart of the city’s most significant natural resource.
On Saturday, April 16, LAFC teamed up with LA Works and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (PVPLC) to host a day of service. Supporters of the Black and Gold met at Abalone Cove Reserve to help provide care for the local land – planting native shrubs, removing invasive weeds and restoring the beachfront habitat for local wildlife – to preserve the natural beauty of the iconic Southern California coastline as a place for all to enjoy.
On Tuesday, April 19, the LA Galaxy is partnering with Garden School Foundation and Leapwood Avenue Elementary School to donate and distribute 300+ bags of produce to the school’s students, staff and families. Garden School Foundation provides in-depth garden-based education to youth at Title I schools in Los Angeles, strengthening connections between food justice, environmental stewardship and community health.
Inter Miami CF has partnered with Fairchild Botanical Gardens (FBG), the largest botanical garden in South Florida, to raise awareness and educate fans on Fairchild, conservation and specific projects that Fairchild is focused on. Inter Miami players will tour Fairchild’s grounds alongside club representatives to learn firsthand about the mission of FBG. Fairchild will also be bringing a tent, plants and educational items to Inter Miami’s home game on Sunday, April 24 to engage with fans and discuss two main projects they are working on: The Million Orchid Project and Growing Beyond Earth. Additionally, the club will participate in the adidas Giveback Program in partnership with the league.
Minnesota United, in partnership with 3M, will host a neighborhood cleanup with supporters in the Midway neighborhood on Friday, April 22, starting at Allianz Field. Additionally, the front office will work with Harambe Sports Club to place planter boxes at their Golden Valley headquarters. Harambee Sports Club seeks to support diversity, equity and cultural humility in youth sports. Harambee is a Swahili word that translates to “working or pulling together.” They utilize sports to support youth with positive role models and provide them with opportunities to create connections with each other and their communities. Lastly, in May, Minnesota United will work with Element Electronics to host a Tech Drive, where they will teach how to properly recycle tech gear in exchange for MNUFC2 game tickets.
CF Montréal will work alongside members of Montréal-based nonprofit Projet Harmonie in preparing their greenhouse, used to grow fruits and vegetables that will be redistributed to the community for the arrival of Spring. They will also help repair their agricultural bins and prepare their flowerbeds. Projet Harmonie’s mission is to improve the quality of life of their residents through greening initiatives, urban agriculture, and food safety.
To commemorate the opening of GEODIS Park, Nashville SC in partnership with Delek US and the Nashville Tree Foundation will host its 3rd Annual Road to Opening Match Day of Service. The service activity will allow fans and supporters to plant over 60 trees along the Brown’s Creek Greenway, which borders Fair Park and GEODIS Park. The project supports local sustainability efforts throughout the Nashville region, including Root Nashville, an effort to plant 500,000 trees in Middle Tennessee by 2050. Nashville SC and the Nashville Tree Foundation will also celebrate the 150th anniversary of National Arbor Day by giving away 150 additional trees during the event for families and local businesses to take home and plant in the surrounding area.
In 2019, the New England Revolution recognized their commitment “For the Oceans” by partnering with the New England Aquarium on a beach cleanup in Boston, MA with over 3,000 pounds of trash being collected. Later this spring, the Revolution will once again participate in a coastal cleanup with New England-based organizations focused on local conservation efforts.
New York City Football Club will partner with Little Free Library to create a small library outside Hostos Lincoln Academy High School in South Bronx, with over 500 students having access. City in the Community, the foundation proudly supported by NYCFC, will donate the books inside the library for participants. The installation and partnership aims to promote sustainability and access to authors of color in one of New York’s’ most underserved neighborhoods.Additionally, on Sunday, April 24, New York City Football Club will partner with NYC Parks for a day of service, in an effort to promote their foundation’s mission of youth empowerment through soccer. Staff working across and alongside the club will meet steps away from Citi Field for a cleanup project along Flushing Bay, helping to create safe spaces and promoting sustainability in communities the club serves.
As part of the New York Red Bulls and Audi GOOOOALS for Growth program, four trees are donated to a community in need for every goal the New York Red Bulls score. The New York Red Bulls and Audi will plant Cherry Blossom Trees at Branch Brook Park in Newark on Friday, April 22 in celebration of Earth Day and their year-long program.
The Philadelphia Union have announced a collaboration with One Tree Planted in which the Union, in partnership with Subaru of America, will donate 25 trees for every Union goal scored in the 2022 regular season. The initiative will kick off with an initial 25 mature trees being planted at Eyre Park in Chester, PA. Additionally, the Union will host local students for a tour of Subaru’s “Garden for Good” at Subaru Park, where they will learn about the sustainable benefits of the garden. The Union will also engage their front office staff and fans in a community clean-up. On Saturday, April 23, the Union will celebrate their sustainability match with a reusable water bottle giveaway for those fans 14 years old and under that are participating in the post-game kick as well as other game-day activations
The Portland Timbers will host two events in Portland. Timber Joey and staff will head to the Hoyt Arboretum on Friday, April 22 to help with trail maintenance. On Saturday, April 23, the Timbers will partner with Grow Portland to help with a garden rebuild at a local Portland elementary school.
Real Salt Lake will partner with Tree Utah to host a community tree planting event. Tree Utah plants trees in public spaces throughout Utah, and the program works to build public awareness and understanding of the needs and values of healthy community urban forests. Players, staff members and club supporters will volunteer to work alongside other members of the Utah community to plant trees at a local Salt Lake City park. Additionally, the club will participate in the adidas Giveback Program in partnership with the league.
The San Jose Earthquakes will work in tandem with Veggielution to provide fresh food to underserved members of the community. The club’s front office staff will pack farm boxes at the Veggielution warehouse with organic fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and meats from local farms. Veggielution, in partnership with Off the Grid, has created a COVID-19 Food Relief Program in San Jose and works with independent farmers and ranchers who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). The Quakes also hosted an away match viewing party on Saturday, April 9 at Barebottle Co, with a portion of the bar proceeds benefiting two of the club’s Pledge74 and Greener Goals community partners: Valley Verde and Veggielution.
As the first carbon neutral professional soccer team in North America, Seattle Sounders FC is committed to protecting our planet. Sounders FC is continuing to work with their partners at EarthGen. They will revisit a 2021 sustainability project site, Hilltop Elementary, to work alongside students to provide necessary upkeep of last year’s community informed garden and playscape project. The workday will be followed by an Earth Day celebration, complete with a soccer ball giveaway, courtesy of RAVE Foundation. Sounders FC are also educating staff on the implications of redlining on environmental justice in Seattle, in collaboration with the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, with plans to expand these learnings to fans in May, as part of our intersectional celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.
Sporting Kansas City has partnered with Kansas City Community Gardens for a day of service in which the club’s front office staff will volunteer to help expand an existing garden by creating additional raised beds for fruits and vegetables to grow. Nutritional produce planted in the garden will support community meals and local pantries as well as youth education and enrichment programming. Sporting KC will also build new raised garden beds at a neighborhood school next month in conjunction with the club’s annual Sporting Sustainability match on Saturday, May 28 at Children’s Mercy Park.
On Saturday, April 30, Toronto FC will partner with Second Harvest to highlight food rescue initiatives that support zero waste at BMO Field. In partnership with the Head Chef and his team, Toronto FC will showcase how food rescue is both social justice and an environmental concern by redistributing food through Second Harvest to communities in need to promote food stability. A video will be shown at BMO Field to encourage fans to participate in food rescue initiatives at the game and beyond. Second Harvest is Canada’s largest food rescue organization with over 30 years of expertise in perishable food recovery.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC will partner with the Strathcona Community Policing Centre and Admiral Seymour Elementary School for a cleanup of the community and school grounds on Earth Day, April 22. Whitecaps Alumni, mascot and girls academy team members will participate in an assembly at Admiral Seymour Elementary School, where they will talk about the importance of Earth Day. They will then take part in a cleanup of the school grounds with teachers, staff, and students. In addition, Whitecaps FC staff will participate in a cleanup of the Strathcona neighborhood in partnership with volunteers from the community. Strathcona is one of Vancouver’s earliest neighborhoods and is home to a diverse group of residents, including many new immigrants to Canada.