Rio goes gold, silver, bronze and green

The Olympic Games are all about athletics and sportsmanship, for sure. But this year’s games in Rio have also put a spotlight on the environment.

Sustainability is playing a big part — from the Opening Ceremony to long after athletes depart.

Check out these gold-medal green ideas in Rio:

Amid the heat, seeds of hope

The August 5 Opening Ceremony, which attracted more than 3 billion viewers, devoted an entire segment to climate change.

“The world is threatened because of global warming,” Brazilian film director Fernando Meirelles, one of three artists overseeing the creative portions of the Opening Ceremony, said before the event. “We are calling for action.”

Woman squatting near flower in spotlight (© AP Images)
A flower breaking through asphalt symbolized hope for the environment at the Opening Ceremony in Rio. (© AP Images)

All the athletes got a chance to plant seedlings native to Brazil in silver containers on the stadium floor. After the Olympics is over, the seeds will be replanted in west Rio de Janeiro, where they will grow in a new “Athletes’ Forest.”

Winning medal designs

Olympic victors will bring back home stunning, sustainable medals. The Brazilian Mint designed the gold medals with gold extracted without the toxic chemical mercury. Silver in the medals is all recycled, with pure silver sourced from the backs of discarded mirrors, solder and even the film from X-ray plates. The ribbon is woven with material from recycled bottles.

Mo Farah holding gold medal (© AP Images)
Great Britain’s Mo Farah celebrates with the gold medal after the men’s 10,000-meter final. (© AP Images)

Chefs claim surplus to feed the hungry

Food will not go to waste. Star chefs David Hertz of Brazil and Massimo Bottura of Italy teamed up to create the RefettoRio Gastromotiva, a volunteer-led restaurant using surplus food from the Olympic Village to serve free meals to the hungry.

More than 50 top chefs from around the world signed up to work in the kitchens during the games. After the Olympics, the team plans to keep the dining hall open, providing free meals each evening for Rio’s poorest.

RefettoRio is derived from the Italian word meaning “refectory,” or communal dining hall.

One-third of the world’s food is lost or wasted, according to the United Nations.

‘Nomadic’ stadiums

“Nomadic architecture” that can be broken down and reassembled is the theme of Brazil’s Olympic construction. Instead of building arenas that could fall into disuse after the Olympics, Rio’s designers created sports venues that will travel and transform. Roofs once over the Olympic handball and Paralympic goalball courts will cover four schools as the stadium is dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere in the city. Once repurposed, the stadium is expected to house 2,000 students.

Man cleaning empty stadium (© AP Images)
Rio’s Olympic Aquatics Stadium will become two aquatics centers in Rio. (© AP Images)