When Ron MacLean cleans the kitchen after dinner, he removes the remaining sauces from their containers and puts them in separate recycling bins — one for organic waste and the other for glass and plastic. “It’s not a big initiative but it makes me feel good,” he says.

Like many Canadians, MacLean is growing more concerned about climate change and is taking small steps to help the environment.

The legendary broadcaster traces his green awareness back two decades, to the holiday season during which he and his wife, Cari, decorated their Christmas tree with energy-efficient LED lights.

Since then, he has been making small environmentally friendly adjustments. He and Cari have installed artificial grass on the sides of their Oakville, ON home, eliminating the need for pesticides, which turn into a gas or vapour after being spread. MacLean also avoids bottled water when he can, opting instead for a thermal bottle.

As hockey fans know, MacLean is the host of Rogers Hometown Hockey, a travelling festival coupled with an NHL broadcast on Sportsnet. MacLean and the festival travel from coast to coast visiting dozens of communities and telling the unique stories that bind the country together through its passion for the sport. Because segment producers are environmentally conscious, he says, the crew works with local officials to ensure there are recycling bins and other such facilities on site.

“You don’t have to be afraid when doing the right thing”

Millions of Canadians know MacLean as Don Cherry’s co-host on Coach’s Corner, a short segment that airs between periods on Hockey Night in Canada. Thanks to the enduring popularity of the show, MacLean’s name is practically synonymous with the NHL — and he’s good with that.

“I think the NHL has shown a great social conscience,” says MacLean, citing as one example the league’s partnership with You Can Play, a non-profit organization committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports.

MacLean is also impressed by the league’s environmental initiatives. Three years ago, the NHL became the continent’s first professional sports league to issue a report documenting and disclosing its carbon footprint. Today, it ranks 26th on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the largest green power users.

MacLean has given an on air shoutout to former NHL player Andrew Ference, who was the driving force behind the NHL’s green awareness. In 2008, Ference worked with the NHL Players’ Association to establish the Carbon Neutral Challenge, a program in which players paid a small amount of money to compensate for the miles they racked up travelling. That program’s success led to the establishment in 2010 of NHL Green, which promotes the various teams’ sustainable energy strategies. “The carbon neutral challenge was a fantastic initiative,” says MacLean, giving Ference full credit for being a trailblazer. “You don’t have to be afraid when you’re doing the right thing.”

“You can’t run a marathon without training”

MacLean will continue doing his bit to help facilitate the country’s transition to a circular economy — and not just at home.

He and Cari are honorary chairs of the 2019 Canada Winter Games, which will be implementing a sustainability plan that includes local food sourcing, among other initiatives. That means organizers will limit the amount of food that comes from places more than 160 kilometres away and, by extension, reduce the amount of diesel fuel required for shipping.

Now that his interest in local food sourcing has been piqued, MacLean is planning to visit farm-to-table restaurants, which serve locally produced food.

MacLean sees this initiative as a small but important step. “You can’t run a marathon without training. You need a foundation,” he says. He hopes every Canadian takes a small step forward to help the environment, and he is confident that many will. “Champions are made when no one is looking.”