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Athlete Activists

Athlete Activists

Professionals Making Lifestyle Changes and Taking Stands for the Environment 

By Israel Gutierrez 

Whether you believe in global warming or are one of the skeptics, the idea of taking care of our planet should be something we can all agree on.  

Professional athletes are also doing their part in joining the fight to protect the planet we live on. 

Lewis Pugh is a great example of someone who is bringing attention to the changing climate. 

Pugh is a professional swimmer and the U.N.’s patron of the oceans. In 2007, he famously swam in the North Pole to bring attention to its melting ice caused by global warming. [1] 

In 2018 he became the first person to swim the entire English Channel, and he used the publicity to call for the protection of 30% of the world’s oceans by the year 2030. [2] 

Over 71% of the earth is covered in water. [3] The oceans have been used as dumping grounds for a long time, and each year there are another eight million metric tons of plastic pollution added to the 150 million metric tons already clogging our marine environments. [4] 

Switching to a plant-based diet. Photo by  

By bringing attention to these issues, we can get more people aware of the issue and willing to do their part. 

Another way that athletes are helping the environment is by deciding to go vegan, vegetarian, or go on a plant-based diet. Big names in sports like Tom Brady, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, and more have all joined the plant-based eating wave. [5] 

While these diets improve the athlete’s personal health, it is also helping the environment. 

The meat and dairy industry have been shown to cause a lot of harm to our planet. Whether it be through the water consumption and/or the greenhouse gas emissions it produces, the cost of a gallon of milk is more than the monetary price tag. [6] 

Professional athletes have a lot of pull when it comes to influencing their fans. Publicly going vegan and taking a stand for the environment influences their fans to do the same. 

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Another example of professional athletes advocating for climate change is former NFL players Garry Gilliam and Karlos Dansby. They have a sustainable real estate firm that plans on turning old, abandoned buildings into developments that have zero emissions. [7] 

These buildings have multiple uses including housing, education, retail, entertainment facilities, and more. [8] This benefits society in many ways as well because it provides new housing for people. 

The projects also provide job opportunities for locals, better education, new shopping centers to stimulate the economy, and more. 

In an age where some people would rather have our professional athletes just “shut up and dribble,” many athletes are using their influence and resources to make a positive change in our society. [9] 

Whether it be big names like LeBron James and his work against racial injustice in the world, or other less mainstream names like Lewis Pugh, athletes everywhere are doing their part to help fix the problems our world is facing. 


  1. Mules, Ineke. (2019, May 17). Meet the athletes taking action on climate change. DW. Retrieved from
  1. Ibid. 
  1. How much water is there on earth? Retrieved from 
  1. Baechler, B., Giskes, I., Jones, J., & Slyfield, J. (2021, April 13). Plastics in the ocean. Retrieved from 
  1. Sarahelizberger. (2018, September 09). NFL players’ surprising performance hack: Going vegan. Retrieved from 
  1. (2019, October 13). The impact of meat to global warming – methane and co2. Retrieved from 
  1. Richardson, Brenda. (2020, September 14). Ex-NFL players look to tackle inner-city challenges by transforming abandoned properties. Forbes. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Sullivan, E. (2018, February 19). Laura Ingraham told LeBron James to shut up and dribble; he went to the hoop. Retrieved from 
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