Ovie Mughelli Battles for a Healthier Environment

James Cistrunk; Flash 4 Photography

James Cistrunk; Flash 4 Photography

Ovie Mughelli, fullback for the Atlanta Falcons, is a top eco-athlete who acts as a voice for children in creating a healthier environment. Get to know Mughelli and why environmental efforts are important to him.

Eco News Network: Why is taking care of the environment so important?
Mughelli: Same reason why we do a lot of things regarding what’s best for our kids. We try and keep our kids safe and try to make sure they have the best shot at life. You know the same reason why we make sure they go to school and get an education; same reason why we make sure our kids go to church; same reason why we make sure our kids eat healthy; same reason why we make sure they buckle their seatbelts. It’s all about the health, safety and well-being of our children and the next generation.

Eco News: As part of your foundation, what kind of events or programs do you set up to get kids involved with the environment?
Mughelli: The football camp/environmental workshop is one of the most fun things we do. We try to coy the term “environmental fitness” or “eco-fitness,” which is where you learn about the environment while getting fit, while being active, while engaging in physical activities. It’s the cornerstone for our environmental fitness campaign. It’s something I call “Recycle on the Run.” A little R&R, but it’s not rest and relaxation, it’s recycling and running at the same time. It’s [an] obstacle course where you run side-to-side, you jump over a fence, you bear crawl under that, you have to pick up a big tire and flip it over. During the obstacle course, there are several environmental brain teasers. One of the ones we have now is where you come to a pile of trash and have to figure out what’s recyclable and what’s not.

Eco News: Why did you start a foundation?
Mughelli: A lot of my teammates do football and education, football and health, football and life skills, but no one does football and environmental education. I thought it was important that we let [kids] know that it’s very important that you know the ABC’s to the environment and to understand what a carbon footprint is, understand you know the whole concept of global warming, understand why recycling is so important and how turning off lights or turning off water, allows us to use less energy and burn less fossil fuels and to pollute our planet less.

Eco News: Now, you focus on encouraging kids to get excited about the environment. What advice do you have for adults in helping out the environment?
Mughelli: For adults, I think one of the biggest things that we always fail to do is realize our purchasing power. What we purchase can really make a difference in this whole green economy. If we don’t support our green products then they’ll stop making green products.

Eco News: Are your teammates getting on the green bandwagon, because you’re so passionate about it?
Mughelli: [Laughs] I wouldn’t go that far. I’d say that they are definitely getting more intrigued and their interests are getting piqued with what I’m doing. I’ve invited them to several of my events. I give them green swag bags with green cleaning products, green candles, bamboo utensils and plates and solar chargers for their iPhones and iPads. They’re like ‘oh this is kind of cool,’ so they’re starting to get into it, but you know some of these guys are a little more stubborn than the average man.

Eco News: How does it feel that people refer to you as one of the top eco-friendly athletes?
Mughelli: It feels good, but you know it’s really not about me. I tell people all the time, it’s about making practical lifestyle changes, that no one should think ‘I can’t be a supreme green eco-captain planet warrior, so I’m not gonna even try because I don’t want people to make fun of me that I’m not doing this right or that right.’ It’s about practical lifestyle changes. You can’t expect to do everything green. I love electronics and video games. I do have a big TV. What I am gonna do is get the correct power strip that is going to allow it not to suck energy even when the TV’s off.

According to Planet Green, Mughelli is the No. 2 eco-athlete in the world and he considers it a “huge honor.” “I wanna use that just to gain more recognition so I can effect more kids and let more people know there is an alternative to being selfish.”

~Allyson Koerner