Brent Suter is pitching to fellow professional athletes the critical need to speak out for climate and social justice issues. Let's find out more about his latest work including his newest organization Sidelining Carbon.
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Brent Suter, Outrider’s sports ambassador for the environment, is getting behind a climate change effort close to home.
Toward the end of the 2020 season, he helped launch Sidelining Carbon, which aims to offset 50 percent of the carbon footprint associated with professional sports team travel by 2025. A carbon offset program is a process by which a person or group can reduce their carbon emissions to compensate for emissions made in their everyday lives. In this specific case, the Milwaukee Brewers will purchase offsets to reduce their carbon footprint made by airline travel throughout the baseball season. Pretty cool.
Suter said the idea came from a conversation he had back in April with Benji Backer, president and founder of the American Conservation Coalition, a youth-led environmental organization.
“We wanted to do something with sustainability in the sports world together and we thought of travel offsets for sports teams,” Suter said.
He and Backer reached out to their contacts at The Nature Conservancy, Players for the Planet and Cool Effect, to get Sidelining Carbon off the ground.
“The offset funds go to forestry projects in Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania and Chestnut Hill, Tennessee,” Suter explained. “So far, the Milwaukee Brewers of the MLB and the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA are the first teams to commit to offsetting their travel, with hopefully many more to come.”
He added that 10 of his teammates, coaches, and other members of the Brewers organization have already contributed to this year’s offsets, including outfielder Christian Yelich, pitcher Josh Hader, and team President and GM David Stearns.
“The entire organization has been extremely supportive,” Suter said. “Carbon offsets are just one of the many things we can do to help ensure a healthy future for our planet.”
President-elect Joe Biden’s climate plan calls for targeting airline emissions, noting that they account for nearly 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions – a share that is expected to increase.
Suter has kept up his advocacy in the offseason, recently participating as a panelist at the Green Sports Alliance Virtual Summit, where he discussed how he gradually became publicly active on climate activism.
“I really started going public in my second or third big league spring training, when we came out with Strikeout Waste,” Suter said on a panel called HUDDLE UP - Athletes Leveraging Their Voice for Impactful Change. “That’s when I felt I had feet in the ground in the league, and wanted to go more public and try to inspire some fans to think about their impacts.”
Suter said his fellow players have also gradually taken a more active role in social activism, especially when it comes to racial justice.
“Before the last couple of years, you could see there was some trepidation in the baseball world to speaking out,” he said. “But there’s definitely been a transition, especially since George Floyd’s killing, where it’s time to make things right. I’m excited about what the future brings in terms of athletes speaking on social justice, racial justice, climate justice – and a whole host of other issues.”
He mentioned the Brewers’ boycott of a game in August, in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Floyd in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Suter was an active participant in the decision to boycott the game as the Brewers’ union representative.
“It got to the point this year where everyone was on board, and everyone knew we needed to rise to the moment,” Suter said. “So when we did have the boycott game, everyone answered those questions really well. It wasn’t putting teammates in uncomfortable positions – we wanted to do that ourselves. It became, instead of being scared to go out into the fray, it was, we did it together, arms locked.”
“Climate justice and racial justice are my main passions,” he added.
Suter, who cited his work with Outrider during the panel discussion, said he started out in the big leagues trying to lead by example.
“I tried to show sustainable behavior in the clubhouse, such as using reusable water bottles,” he said.
Other member of the panel were Nelson Cruz, right fielder for the Minnesota Twins; Renee Montgomery, a guard for the WNBAs’ Atlanta Dream who is sitting out the season to promote social justice causes; and Forrest Shearer, a professional snowboarder. It was moderated by Cyrus Wadia, Head of Sustainable Product at Amazon.
Suter is coming off an excellent 2020 season, in which he went 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA.