The Frontstretch: Roush Fenway Saving the Planet? by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday April 23, 2009

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Roush Fenway Saving the Planet?

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday April 23, 2009


When it comes to being ecologically sound, I will be the first to admit that I am not a good person. I refuse to sort my trash into three different bins; I do not rinse out every can or empty jar. Heck, I don’t even return my empty beverage cans for the nickel deposit. They, too, usually go straight to the trash.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; I am not a waster. Why, I have even been known to reuse paper plates that I just had a bologna sandwich on! But it has been my experience that most efforts at recycling are way more costly than they are truly worth.

As an example, when I worked for a large worldwide corporation, the top brass suddenly decided that the company must “go green.” Paper use was going to be reduced, paper was going to be recycled, trash was going to be sorted, soaps in the bathrooms were going to be replaced with “green” soaps, sanitizers and cleaning solutions used by the nightly cleaning crew were replaced with 100% biodegradable stuff… and so on.

To start this great initiative, months in advance of our “green” date, the company started printing out flyers — a total of three separate ones, as I recall. These three flyers had to be placed, by hand, on every desk in the 160,000 square foot building to make employees aware about the initiative.

Now, this building is cubicle city — so much so that every cubicle had a street address within the building — but yet three pieces of paper had to be placed on each desk to inform the occupant that the company was, in fact, going to use less paper and thus save trees. Naturally, since I was the one that had to put the papers on the desks — a task that took over eight man hours in addition to my regular duties — I probably not so nicely pointed out that an email would probably be much more in line with the ultimate goal.

What was I thinking? I was told to shut up and get to work.

Roush Fenway Racing announced this week that they are upping their pledge to promote more sustainable operations and better environmental management.

Then, there was the paper recycling… which amounted to approximately at least two tons a night. All that had to be stored in bins, and now we had to pay someone to come get it twice a week. And speaking of money, the new soaps and cleansers used in the bathrooms and by the cleaning crew were twice as expensive as the ones previously used — doing half the job. Therefore, almost a full third more had to be purchased (I know… I did the invoices every week!)

All this stuff came in the name of saving the planet, because man is such a scourge upon it. Please pay no attention to the bottom line or that the stock price is now down from over nine dollars to just under a buck. We are saving the planet! And making someone in a really big office feel better to boot!

Well, NASCAR is no exception to this growing phenomenon. In the news this week, Roush Fenway Racing has announced that they are pledging to be even more “environmentally sustainable” than in the past — releasing some pretty impressive statistics to prove it.

Here is a bit of their press release…

Roush Fenway Racing is upping their pledge to promote more sustainable operations and better environmental management. Always a leader in the sport of NASCAR on and off track, Roush Fenway has been working with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to reinforce its position as a leader in environmental stewardship in the industry. Through the team’s current efforts, they recycle almost 96% of every race car. In 2008, the team recycled over 66 tons of waste (plastic, paper, and metal); reduced the overall amount of waste produced by more than 11 tons; reduced storm water runoff by 1.51M gallons; and saved 2.10M gallons of water by not using potable water for irrigation.

Wow! 96% of every race car is recycled? Why do they need to build so many then? I was not aware that the country was in danger of being overrun by old, unsightly, non-recycled race cars. I wonder how much it costs to recycle a race car? How much more did RFR spend in ’08 compared to ’07 to have its 66 tons of recycled stuff removed?

And then, we get to the storm water runoff. What did they do… plant more grass over the parking lots? Since when is storm water runoff a problem ecologically? Oh sure, I know first hand how bad it effects the flooding situation when you pave over every little piece of grass in a city — but is natural runoff a problem? And who was the idiot that thought of using potable water in the first place for irrigation? Yeah, I know what they did. Just as most golf courses do, they built a pond to contain the runoff … and now use that water to water the grass to keep it green so they can mow it twice a week. Yeah, that’s real ecologically sound.

This whole thing reminds me of NASCAR’s idiotic shortening of the races back during the oil embargo of the 1970s. The 10% reduction of race lengths really pulled the country out of a bind back then, didn’t they?

Yes, folks; I know that every little bit helps. But I will bet dollars to donuts that RFR’s expenses have increased right in line, if not more than, the amount of planet saving they have done. It is all done simply to make someone feel good. After all, yesterday was Earth Day!

But do we really need to save the Earth? When you consider what nature can do to the environment with one tiny volcano — not to mention a massive eruption the likes of which our species has never seen, but yet we know happens over time — and then you consider the span of time man has actually been on the Earth “ruining” it… we sure are pretty pompous of ourselves, aren’t we?

Now, I’m not saying we need to run willy nilly over our resources. But what I am saying is to recognize things like this for what they really are — simple PR stunts to make someone look and feel good about themselves, no matter the cost.

And while we are talking about saving the teams money (one of NASCAR’s favorite projects because they believe the teams are not bright enough to do it themselves), here is a good one…

In no other sport do the teams that did not make the playoffs get to keep on playing. If we HAVE to have this ridiculous Chase system, end the season after the 26th race. The top 12 get to keep on racing, TRUE racing, and we don’t have to worry about a “non-chaser” altering the events and eventual outcome. To compensate for this, sponsorship contracts would have “performance clauses” in them. It would cost X amount of dollars to sponsor a race team, and X more if that team makes the playoffs and you want to continue your sponsorship.

As for the rest of the teams vying for the stupid top 35 rule… well, you better be in by the 26th race! Make the racing during the year even more about racing than cruising around getting points. As for the Chase part, with only the top 12 running, cut the remaining races in HALF by laps or length. Make it more of a shootout. Don’t worry about the ratings; people already flip back and forth to the NFL games anyway. NASCAR will never beat the NFL in ratings, that has been proven. Yes, it does beat golf — as they have so aptly pointed out a time or two this year — but so does infomercials.

Think about how much money a team would save and be able to invest in next year in their effort to improve if they only ran 26 races. And you know what… it would be the little teams that need to save that would actually be reaping the benefits. If you can run with the big boys next year… you naturally will get bigger dollars for your effort.

It probably all makes too much sense to really work, though!

Stay off the wall (and off the grass at RFR),

Jeff Meyer

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NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
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04/23/2009 07:39 AM

Jack Roush has always been an Innovator!!

04/23/2009 08:30 AM

Great, GREAT column Jeff! I’ll start cutting back on energy use when Al Gore’s mansion does.

Mike in Floyd Va
04/23/2009 03:07 PM

A little something about Roush and recycling. You know those little metal rings that are left over after drilling out a pop rivet? Roush has his people collect them and uses them as spacers on certain parts of the car. Failure to do so will result in being fired. Talk about extreme recycling.

04/23/2009 08:30 PM

We ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

Wait for the “carbon tax” to kick in. (Note: this tax is only for the “working class” and not for the politicians who desparately NEED limos and private planes with AC)

M.B. Voelker
04/23/2009 09:24 PM

With that experience of the real world of the “green” movement you may already be reading but if you don’t you’re going to love it.

Me, I’m still waiting on the mile high wall of ice that I was assured would soon swallow Chicago and New York back when I was in 9th grade.

And tonight at a county presentation, an official from the solid waste management department admitted that recycling loses money.

04/23/2009 11:06 PM

Gee, imagine that, another negative article on the Frontstretch?

What is wrong with Roush Fenway putting out a strong effort to increase sustainability? I admire how successful their recycling efforts are. In a sport where any little bit of positive news helps rid the sport of Another negative column on the Frontstretch? I couldn’t believe my eyes! These columns contain nothing but more and more negative garbage every week. I guess that no one wants to read any positive news anymore.

Jeff, what is wrong with Roush Fenway publishing a PR about them putting forth a strong effort to increase sustainability? It may be nothing but a fluff piece to make them feel better, but it’s admirable that they emphasize recycling as much as they do. It may cost more, but Roush wouldn’t be doing it if they don’t have the budget to do so. Last time I checked, this isn’t a poor man’s sport. Go ask Richard Childress and see he is an advocate of keeping the woods that he hunts in as clean and natural as possible? How silly could I be? I’m sure that he assists Shell/Pennzoil in dumping their used motor oil in his woods beside his house. Then he uses your old paper plates to help clean up the spills. After that, he burns the plates and other rags covered in oil so he won’t have to throw them in a landfill. I know that Roush’s effort won’t make much of a mark on this globe, but at least a making a solid effort to do so.

In a sport where any little bit of progression such as this helps change the stereotype on this “redneck” sport, a column such as this does nothing but help fuel the “redneck” stereotype. it’s hillbilly stereotype, articles like this

Lunar Tunes
04/24/2009 01:15 AM

Gee, lets thinks this out…
The trash guy used to come once a week. Now, with recycling and all (in my community anyway) the regular ‘trash’ guys dont pick up the stuff in the plastic recycle bins (how much oil was used to produce those?)but a whole different company, with their own fleet of diesel burning trucks…..
How about the trucks that come to the corporation to pick up the recycle stuff? They aint using ‘hybrid’ trucks for that….
Yeah, recycling sounds nice and all, but when it comes down to the numbers, in most cases, you are expending much more energy to recycle the stuff than if you didn’t do it in the first place!
But hey, as long as you all feel good!

Lunar Tunes
04/24/2009 01:23 AM

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the water wasted in rinsing out all the jars and cans so the recycle guys will take them!
“Green nuts” are always saying every little bit helps and adds up, well guess what? So does all the water wasted used in the rinsing process before the stuff even gets to the curb! And where does that water go? Oh yeah, more water in the treatment plant that needs to be purified…but hey we saved a can or a mayo jar!

04/24/2009 04:20 AM

Wow, I’m sorry, but it’s people like you who reinforce the stereotype of NASCAR fans being close-minded, ignorant hicks. Are you seriously picking on Roush because he decided to do his part for the environment instead of just sitting in front of his computer compaining about how “going green” is such a waste of time and energy?

Of course this is a PR move, but that doesn’t make what he’s doing any less beneficial. If everyone was like you and believed that their actions singularly made no differnce in the world, then nothing would ever be done about our current environmental crisis.

Also, I seriously can’t believe there are people who still deny the existance of global warming. Wow, talk about taking ignorance to another level. Who cares about well formulated theories from scientifically sound empirical data backed by experts in the subjects, when I spy with my little eye that a volcano can make boom boom!

Way to keep up the good work Frontstretch..

Kevin in SoCal
04/24/2009 12:46 PM

Bloo, I was with you until you mentioned global warming. GW is nothing but a money-making scheme thought up by Al Gore to create new taxes and take more money from our wallets to try and change Mother Nature. For every scientist who says we puny humans affect the weather, there is another scientist who says nature only affects itself.
I’m all for recycling, reducing our waste, and using less water and gasoline, but not at the cost of higher fees and taxes to force us to do so.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
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Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.