Harlequins join fight against plastic pollution.

Here's why sports teams are becoming more climate-conscious.

Last week saw Adidas launch Harlequins new third kit, featuring a replica shirt made of recycled plastic waste, following in the (carbon) footsteps of other teams such as Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Juventus.

Unfortunately, it also saw microplastics discovered near the peak of Mount Everest. This means microplastics have now been found from the depths of the ocean all the way to the highest mountain on Earth.

The kit-launch aims to raise awareness around this issue, as well as to promote Harlequins and Adidas’ wider sustainability efforts. It’s a partnership that is likely to continue to be repeated in many different forms across the sporting world. Here’s why;

Consumer demands

Data obtained by Visual GPS and YouGov found 81% of people expect companies to be environmentally conscious in their advertising and communications. And it goes further than that in many cases. The Drum’s CSR report found almost 7 in 10 online consumers would or might stop using a brand because of its social or environmental wrongdoing.

This green crusade has amplified consumer and brand consciousness towards the harmful impact our daily lives have on the planet. However, such shifts are yet to translate into decisive action. The Drum found 65% were unaware of the grand sustainability pledges made by brands. And even when the public is conscious of such pledges, 43% believe them to be achievable.

This consumer sentiment has remained, even in the midst of the pandemic.

Taking action

Brands must not only find a medium to boost public awareness surrounding their sustainability pledges, but also a way to articulate how they can be achieved. This is already leading to a heightened desirability from brands to partner with rights holders that value sustainability - and can physically demonstrate it.

Harlequins are the most recent example, but I could have chosen from a plethora of other recent sustainability-led sponsorships. From Arsenal, Denver Nuggets, and the LA Rams partnership with Ball Corporation, to Forest Green Rovers' new stadium naming rights deal.