With Wilson, it’s easy to be green

November 19th, 2009

Kermit the Frog always said “it’s not easy being green”. Although, small incremental moves by companies across the globe can collectively add up to a larger positive affect on the health of our environment. Simple, easy stuff, like the following example.

With so many companies of various scales and across a wide variety of industries conveying “green” messages, creating sustainable solutions and all of the other ubiquitous environmentally responsible messages flying through the stratosphere, I was pleased to stumble upon a little gem of a service offered by a longstanding American company, which beyond the surface, is actually a highly “green” offering.

My oldest daughter enjoys tossing the football around in the back yard with me on weeknights, and asked if we could get a “real” football rather than continuing to volley the dog-eared Nerf we’ve had for a long time. I remembered a vintage collegiate football that I had stored in our basement, made by Wilson Sporting Goods. It’s a great old ball, but had seen it’s better days – the ball could no longer be inflated, and the lacing had deteriorated. Being one to always get a thrill out of restoring, renovating, and/or making something out of nothing, I decided to bring new life to this cherished icon of my childhood.


The only suggestions I received from sporting goods giants like Sports Authority and others was to “just buy a new ball”. Uh huh. Buy a new ball – which equates to roughy $90 for one of similar quality. With some digging online, I found that Wilson will restore your old ball for $15 – shipping included. I sent it to Wilson without a second of hesitation.

Two weeks later, I received the reconditioned ball, postage paid and carefully packaged with a small tag attached to the new, perfect lacing. The tag, in handwritten script, read “August 12, 1968”. Not only had they reconditioned the exterior of the ball, replaced the inner inflatable bladder and re-laced it, but they took the extra gesture of care and had provided the birth date of this little relic. For $15. Wow. I was so moved that I immediately felt an allegiance with the Wilson brand. For me, brand loyalty was immediately established, without multi-million dollar ad campaigns or extensive digital marketing. Even better, Wilson’s offer to restore the ball, with or without their knowing, is an incredibly powerful environmentally responsible message. Rather than chucking the ball into Thursday morning’s trash pickup, I was able to reduce the somewhat crazy cycle of purchase, consumption and disposal. Yes, a small carbon footprint was created due to the shipping to/from Wilson, but nothing compared to the carbon footprint created by the material manufacturing, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, retail, purchase and disposal cycle related to the purchase of a new ball.


In the future, I’d love to see more products that are designed on the front-end to be fully serviceable and restorable when they have neared the end of their lifecycle, to enable more consumers to take a simple step like this in the direction of re-use. With a little more foresight in design and creation of simple re-use instructions and services rather than new revenue trumping environmental responsibility, we’d have more walking the green walk as opposed to talking the green talk, and increases in brand loyalty would come free of charge. With this, it wouldn’t be so hard to be green –  even for Kermit.

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2 Comments to “With Wilson, it’s easy to be green”

Great write up. I agree with it starting at the design stage. I was talking with a friend about changing brakes on a car and nowadays most rotors need to be changed along with the pads. Big waste. In the old days you could “turn” the rotors and reuse them. If they just started out thicker to allow a longer use it would be much better on the environment.


That’s so great! Some companies do offer similar incentives. Cosmestic companies are jumping on the green band wagon by offering discounts if you return the packaging of their products to be refilled or recycled. Hearing this story has honestly made me a fan of Wilson!


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