As FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding spoke at a podium, a duo of shark rays swam behind him. Behind them were other sharks, fish and Denver the Loggerhead sea turtle, too.
Berding was at the Newport Aquarium on Monday morning for Earth Day and to celebrate the conclusion of MLS WORKS’ Greener Goals Week of Service, which FCC participated in for the first time this year.
In the last week, the club helped serve the community in various ways.
On Monday, April 15, the club cleaned up Sands Playground – located in the West – with help from volunteers and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. On Tuesday, FC Cincinnati and People Working Cooperatively helped renovate two homes in the West End. On Wednesday, the Orange and Blue staged a program at the Carl H. Lindner YMCA where West End children learned how to make “plarn” with Shari the Bag Lady. To wrap up the week, FC Cincinnati wore special-edition adidas x Parley jerseys against Real Salt Lake at Friday’s game. The jerseys, which are made out of intercepted plastic waste, were worn by both clubs – as well as every team in MLS last weekend.
All this led to Monday morning’s event at the Newport Aquarium. Not only was it a chance to celebrate Earth Day, it was also an opportunity for the club to recognize the 6,142 single-use plastic bags collected by fans at the team’s April 7 and April 19 games, as well as visitors to the Newport Aquarium during the last month.
Those bags, which were piled up in a massive crate, will be re-purposed to prevent pollution. Shari the Bag Lady was also there to collect them to eventually re-imagine them into useful and necessary items, like mats and bags for the area’s homeless shelters, and pet mats for local pet shelters.
“I want these plastic bags to help others and not hurt the environment,” Berding said.
During a speech, he recalled celebrating Earth Day as a student at Miami University in the 1980s. Later, when he was on the Cincinnati City Council, he helped established the city’s recycling program.
With that program now well-established, re-purposing the bags is another step to help the environment, said Eric Rose, the Executive Director of Newport Aquarium
“Community is a big part for not only Newport Aquarium, but also FC Cincinnati, as well,” Rose said. “But what was really special about this initiative and the collection of the bags was that it also embraced environmental sustainability. Not only can we reach out to our community, but we can do good things for our environment at the same time.
“The important message is: a couple of small little acts can actually turn into very sustain long-term permanent lifestyle choices.”
Scott Wingate, the WAVE Foundation’s Executive Director, offered similar remarks and said that at the current rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean in the next 30 years.
“We are excited to be part of this triumvirate of organizations looking to create change and reduce plastics to help save our local waterways and protect our oceans and these beautiful species you see swimming behind me,” Wingate said.