The best of sustainability at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational

05 Aug 2022

The best of sustainability at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational

Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational is regularly lauded as an example of how golf tournaments can showcase sustainability and leave a minimal footprint on the planet. But what makes the event so green?

The third iteration of the tournament took place in July on the back of news that last year’s event had achieved GEO Certified® Tournament status, making it the first on the LPGA Tour to retain the certification.

And 2022 has been no different, with organisers embracing multiple new and enhanced initiatives this year with the goal of building on its existing reputation for having a positive environmental and social impact. 

A two-bin system helped Dow GLBI towards its zero-waste goal.

Recycling has been at the heart of the efforts. Mesh material used on spectator platforms was recycled after the event and turned into golf tees, ball markers and divot tools, while two-bin systems and compostable serveware were used in a bid to create a zero-waste event.

Over 12,000 pounds of prepared and unused food and drink from Dow GLBI were donated to Hidden Harvest, an initiative in the Great Lakes Bay region which redistributes surplus food to those in need, while local businesses were supported at the tournament’s general store.

The 2021 tournament, meanwhile, received the international award for sustainability in golf from GEO Foundation by completing a rigorous and comprehensive certification process designed for golf tournaments. You can read the 2021 Certification Report here.

Surplus food and drink was donated and distributed to people in need in the region.

The carbon footprint of the event was measured and reduced, with unavoidable carbon emissions offset, and metered freshwater use was compensated through the purchase of Water Restoration Certificates – helping restore the equivalent of 2.3 million gallons of water to critically dewatered rivers and streams. 

“Offsetting unavoidable carbon emissions for the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational reflects Dow’s commitment to use its science and engineering expertise to drive toward a low-carbon future,” said Chris Chandler, executive director of the Dow GLBI. “With our partners Outlyr, the Midland Country Club and the LPGA, the Dow GLBI continues to drive meaningful change and impact by taking action on sustainability – socially, environmentally and economically.”

Highlights from the 2021 tournament included:

  • $12.7 million in direct economic impact to Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region was generated through the Dow GLBI. 
  • Approximately 78% of waste generated was recycled or reused, a 10% improvement from 2019. 
  • More than 3,000 area youth participated in STEM to Them, an educational outreach program that brought STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities directly to students throughout the region.
  • $237,500 was donated to regional nonprofits through the #TeamUp Challenge. 
  • 4,307 pounds of prepared and unused food was donated to Hidden Harvest and distributed to 24 regional nonprofits.
  • 3,940 pounds of carpeting was recycled from hospitality suites, 1,559 pounds of mesh fencing was recycled, and 80% of signage was reused.
  • More than 200 local businesses and vendors participated in the event. 
  • Several programs supporting youth and inclusion, including sponsoring the John Shippen Tournament for African American Golfers, the First Tee Junior Golf Clinic, the LPGA Leadership Academy, the Special Olympics 3-Hole Challenge and free access for veterans, were implemented.

Jonathan Smith, founder and executive director of GEO Foundation, said: “The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational is a shining example of what can be achieved through the collective efforts of all stakeholders to deliver a sustainable golf tournament.

“The ambition to continually strive for improvement and always do more is evident throughout the event. The Dow GLBI is going from strength to strength and has quickly become established as a showcase for leadership in sustainability and climate action, not only in golf but all sport.”

With an agreement to extend the tournament through to 2029, Dow GLBI - already the most sustainable on the LPGA Tour - looks set to continue its showcase of sustainable tournament practices for years to come.

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