Furman University and The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities have marked the second year of a sustainability partnership with the BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament’s “Fore the Love of the Green” program.
In 2021, the BMW Charity Pro-Am diverted more than 47,000 pounds of waste from landfills and kept its overall emissions footprint at the equivalent of 1,663 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Those results set a high par for sustainability in the 2022 tournament, which was held June 9-12 in Greenville.
Zero waste and carbon neutrality were continued goals for 2022, along with community education, said Kari Snyder, director of community engagement for the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Furman and The Shi Institute provided “sound advice for us,” said Snyder. “Our team is learning about sustainability, and being able to learn from Furman has been extremely critical.”
In the months leading up to the 2022 tournament, The Shi Institute had been part of an advisory committee that examined the event’s 2021 Sustainability Report and made recommendations for the future, said Laura Bain, associate director of sustainability assessment for The Shi Institute.
It’s important to see the big picture, Bain told attendees at a lunch-and-learn program on sustainability presented by The Shi Institute during the tournament.
“Traditionally, sustainability was thought of as an environmental issue, but we know now that it’s much bigger than that,” Bain told the audience of dozens of community and business leaders at the Greenville Marriott. “You can’t ask someone to care about climate change or to change their behavior if they don’t have clean water or they’re struggling to exist in an unjust world. Sustainability is everything – it’s sociology, it’s economics, it’s psychology, it’s a policy – and we don’t always see the connections to those things.”
The Shi Institute seeks “a safe and just space for humanity,” said Bain, striking a balance between environmental ceilings like climate change and biodiversity and the social foundation of jobs, housing, equity and political voice that help society function.
“With every environmental problem, you have to look for the social problems that underlie it,” said Bain. “If we’re not addressing those, then we’re not really solving the problem.”
Bain explained how The Shi Institute works for solutions to those problems through its three centers: the Center for Sustainability Education, the Center for Applied Sustainability Research, and the Center for Sustainability Leadership.
“Our aim as we’re making these connections is to help everyone – be it Furman students or professionals or community members – to find where their individual passions or their job responsibilities can fit within the model of sustainability,” said Bain.
Furman and The Shi Institute also helped the BMW Charity Pro-Am expand its own sustainability network, Snyder said, citing in particular the recently graduated class of Sustainability Leadership Initiative fellows. The SLI, presented by The Shi Institute and Sustain SC, helped the tournament “grow our footprint and our outreach within the community,” she said.
Professional networks and local collaborations are essential to continuing the work toward sustainability past the 2022 tournament and into future years, Bain told the lunch-and-learn audience.
“Many of you in this room are already doing this work,” she said, “but I really hope that today you’ll be recharged and inspired to continue to do the work of pushing everyone toward a safe and just space for humanity.”