Stars pull for sustainability

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 18/06/2014
Georgina Earl
JO McKENZIE-McLEAN/FAIRFAX NZ
EASY BEING GREEN: Former double Olympic gold medallists Georgina Earl and Caroline Meyer are ambassadors for a nationwide environmental initiative, Project Litefoot, which is coming to the South Island.

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Olympic rowing twins who trained on a lake full of dead fish and algae bloom are backing a project to make community sports clubs more environmentally sustainable.

Cromwell-based twins Caroline Meyer and Georgina Earl (nee Evers-Swindell) are ambassadors for Project Litefoot, which hopes to inspire New Zealanders to be environmental champions.

The Ministry for the Environment-funded project was founded in 2008 by Hamish Reid and golfer Michael Campbell.

It has measured the environmental footprint of top sportspeople, including the sisters, Brendon McCullum, Conrad Smith, Daniel Kereopa, Moss Burmester, Campbell, Barbara Kendell, Marina Erakovic and Sarah Walker.

Earl said they saw a lot of environmental devastation on Lake Karapiro, where they trained leading up to the Olympics. "Dead fish would be floating in it and there was a lot of algae bloom.

"We have always been aware of the environment and that it needs looking after so we were really keen to get involved."

Project Litefoot had helped the sisters understand making a difference was all about "doing a little together".

Since moving to Cromwell in 2012 - Caroline from Cambridge in June and Georgina from Christchurch in November - the sisters had set up homes on rural properties on the outskirts of town, where they are raising families.

"I just love it down here - the lifestyle and the people. Everyone is incredibly welcoming." Both women compost and use reusable nappies, recycle, have installed energy-efficient products and Meyer, who had been renovating her home, had installed solar panels and a fire that heated the water.

It was all about cutting costs and feeling good about reducing waste, she said.

"We have got a worm farm that eats food scraps and we can use the beautiful compost on the garden. We travel a lot less now with flights, so that used to bump our emissions up. I am at home a lot now with the kids, who help us feed the worms and help with the recycling."

Project Litefoot spokesman Dan Kelly said the ambassadors' leadership was being used to promote LiteClub - a free initiative to make community sports clubs be electricity independent, water neutral and zero waste by 2025.

Project Litefoot had 367 North Island clubs in its programme, and would be brought to the South Island later this year, he said.

Sports clubs had saved nearly $2 million by being more energy efficient with electricity, water and waste since joining the free programme.

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