Vuvuzelas are causing quite an uproar at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. If you haven’t actually heard them (annoying), you’ve probably heard of them: They’re those long, colorful plastic horns that drown out any other sound in the soccer stadiums, and make you think an air raid is imminent. Players are complaining about them, TV and radio commentators are complaining about them – even viewers at home hate them. We get the whole player distraction thing. But no one’s even mentioned the horns’ worst quality – the actual waste they create.
Vuvuzelas, while an integral part of South Africa’s soccer tradition, technically create noise pollution, since they disrupt the balance of normal life. (Some players are even having a hard time sleeping because of the constant horn blowing.) A single horn puts out a sound measuring 127 decibels, which is higher than a lawnmower, and potentially damaging to human ears.
But perhaps more importantly is the question of what’s going to happen to these horns after the matches are over? At $8 a pop, they aren’t exactly an investment. We’re betting that many fans leave theirs at the stadium, then buy a new one at the next game. And we’re guessing that the only receptacle for the ol’ vuvuzela is a plain ol’ trash can.
South Africa put a fair amount of effort into making some stadiums earth-friendly (ish) for this year’s World Cup, but we’re disappointed that no one thought about the vuvuzela impact, which just adds to the carbon footprint of the World Cup. (We doubt that anyone accounted for the vuvuzelas when estimating the carbon footprint of the games, so the actual total is likely above 2,753,251 tons.)
If you’re dying to get into the South African soccer spirit, there are a few eco-friendly vuvuzela manufacturers, courtesy of Eco Street. Check out Obsidian Glass for some blown-glass horns, and K.E.L.P. for some painted kelp horns. And they’re actually beautiful – much better than a hunk of petroleum that ends up in a landfill.
Hear the vuvuzelas in action for yourself: