You are serving as the 2019 Women's Final Four Sustainability Coordinator. Why do local companies and organizations have a corporate responsibility to adopt or maintain sustainability efforts?
Today's consumers are more mindful. They value authenticity and demand transparency from the companies. Sustainability benefits companies and the communities they are in by encouraging them to allocate resources efficiently and minimize the effects of any threat they might face. For instance, local companies can help their community become more independent and self-sufficient by providing products sourced from their own community. These things make a local community resilient. Most importantly, companies influence consumer behavior.
You've got a big job ahead! What are some of the efforts that Tampa Bay will undertake to earn its sustainability certification?
Tampa Bay is looking to minimize the environmental impacts of the NCAA Women’s Final Four by having a waste diversion plan in place, implementing a recycling rewards campaign, and we'll be working with TECO Energy to calculate the carbon footprint of the event and offset it through the use of renewable energies. We will also be working with local vendors that provide access to sustainably produced food and partnering with companies such as hotels that have made commitments to energy efficiency, recycling and water conservation.
You are a three-time NCAA Women's Final Four national champion. Now you’re helping captain the sustainability efforts for the 2019 event. How does it feel to come full circle and have an impact on Tampa Bay's sustainability story?
In 2018, Columbus became the first NCAA Women’s Final Four host city to be certified. So, for me to have the opportunity to participate in helping Tampa Bay pursue certification for the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four is very special. I never expected for two of my worlds to collide quite like this-- basketball and sustainability. Now they have converged in Tampa Bay, and I have the opportunity to make them work together. It’s great to be back in Tampa after winning my second national a championship here in 2015 and now helping plan out ways to make the event more sustainable.
We hope to provide event attendees with access to locally grown and/or sustainably produced food and drinks. We will also be partnering with Feeding Tampa Bay, a local nonprofit that fights hunger by providing food to families in need. Amalie Arena's hydroponic garden will also be a part of our sustainability efforts – something which I am very pumped about. It takes advantage of vertical space to produce different varieties of herbs and vegetables. I hope that there may be opportunities for guests to tour the garden and learn about hydroponic gardening.