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March 30, 2023
The pitch was a simple one. If Ben Mee can offset the carbon of his local transfer, then why can’t we offset the carbon of an international transfer? That’s where our ambassador Will Troost-Ekong came in. Moving from Watford to Salernitana, we wanted to find local initiatives to help us offset the carbon of his flights whilst also supporting Italian communities. After all, what’s the point in saving the planet if you can’t support the people living on it?
Carbon offsetting is basically making up for the carbon you have created. This is often done with land reclamation or tree planting. However, this method shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) states that there are 3 things you should consider before offsetting. Those are avoiding, reducing and substituting. ‘Purchasing offsets should be a last resort,’ says the WWF, ‘after other measures to reduce or avoid emissions have been explored.’ There is also a chance that the trees planted will not be managed or cared for properly, which would void the impact of the offsetting.
As one of our ambassadors, Will wears our boots, helps to promote Sokito’s mission, and is constantly looking for ways to inject more sustainable practices into his career. That’s why, when we came to him with this idea, he was all in. He was already making the move to Italian club Salernitarna, so ‘all’ we had to do was research the best ways to offset the carbon of
When we looked into offsetting carbon in Italy, we stumbled upon a crisis we’d never even heard of. For 10 years now, olive trees in Italy have been dying. In unprecedented numbers. And it’s all thanks to a type of bacteria called Xylella fastidiosa. With no known cure, the bacteria had previously been found in places like Brazil, California and Taiwan, but 10 years ago it reached Puglia.
This is why we decided to use Alberami to offset Will’s carbon: a company that is not only committed to carbon capture, but also in restoring the soil integrity and agricultural profitability of the region. By using local farmers, whilst sending 70% of the profits back to them, they have managed to involve communities that would otherwise be uninterested in sustainable farming. Their transparency and methods of testing appealed to our own values: not hiding the aspects of their company that need to be improved, but instead putting in realistic plans to keep pushing for a better future.
Of Puglia’s 60 million olive trees, 21 million of them have been killed by Xylella. A disastrous blow to the local economy and the planet. With the help of new bacteria-sniffing dogs and tree-planting schemes, there are plans to stop the spread of infection and reclaim this land, but it’s not going to be an easy job.
Ben Mee was the first in the industry to highlight the impact of transfers on carbon output. Using a UN-enlisted company to make his transfer to Brentford from Burnley carbon neutral, his actions opened many people’s eyes to the troubling amount of travel that most players, let alone entire clubs, do
throughout a season.
However, it’s not just footballers who hold the cards when it comes to the industry’s carbon footprint. In fact, 60-70% of its footprint can be attributed to travel to and from matches. And when there’s a World Cup on, people will travel from all over the globe just to see one game. It’s a huge problem, and one that the industry takes no accountability for. As individuals, we can walk, cycle or take the bus to games as much as possible, however the clubs themselves need to be taking steps to encourage these measures.
Our decision to offset Will’s international transfer caught the attention of some big names. Sky Sports, The Athletic, The BBC and The Independent all covered the story, with David Garrido, who speaks openly about the importance of sustainability in the sport, commending this action. Of course, we didn’t do this for praise. We did it to raise awareness and, hopefully, to encourage other footballers to do the same. This is just one tiny drop in the ocean of problems within the industry, but we’re going to keep making groundbreaking steps until everyone else catches up.*
*Sokito has been conducting research on the impact of the January 2023 transfer window on carbon emissions. Follow us on social media to see what we find.
At the end of his season, Will met up with Alberami to learn more about their mission and have the change to plant a tree himself. He spoke with the team about their local initiatives, about the area that they were planting in and about the importance of maintenance when it comes to carbon offsetting.
Take a look through the photos below to see how Will got fully stuck into the planting process.
March 30, 2023