Liverpool legend Dirk Kuyt helping spearhead environmentally game-changing 'Don't Lose Your Bottle' campaign

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Kuyt, 41, enjoyed a memorable visit to Merseyside on Thursday
Kuyt, 41, enjoyed a memorable visit to Merseyside on Thursday

By Josh Graham

Some 15 years after keeping his bottle to score the decisive penalty against Chelsea to send Liverpool into the Champions League final, Anfield legend Dirk Kuyt is back on Merseyside spreading a similar message.

This time around the Dutch icon, 41, is waging war on plastic waste rather than holding his nerve on the biggest stage of all, but it is a combination of the two values that is helping to fuel the ‘Don't Lose Your Bottle’ campaign pioneered by SC Johnson, a family company with a long-term commitment to the environment, and Liverpool FC.

To celebrate Earth Month this April, the LFC Foundation - the charitable arm of the club - and SC Johnson have teamed up to give Key Stage 1-3 aged children an LFC-branded reusable plastic bottle that they, crucially, must not lose while learning about sustainability in order to be in with a chance of winning tickets to Sunday’s Merseyside derby against Everton.

“It’s very important to take care of our planet and its health and it’s very important we teach the kids to take care of their bottles. It’s up to us to teach them how to recycle and therefore live on a better planet,” said ex-winger Kuyt, who scored 71 goals in 285 games for the Reds from 2006 to 2012.

“I think the partnership with SC Johnson and Liverpool is very important because together you are always stronger and together you can make things happen.

“I’m very proud to be involved in the partnership. I had a great career as a football player, I had six amazing years here at Liverpool and I’m very proud of that but one of my ambitions in life is to give something back to the community here in Liverpool which still means a lot to me.

“To see the kids here and make them aware of plastic and how to reuse it is a very good thing.

“It will be very exciting for some of them to go to the match - I have played in those Merseyside derby games before, so if they didn't know how important and special those tickets are then I’ll tell them!”

The ‘Don’t Lose Your Bottle’ campaign is part of the wider ‘Goals for Change’ partnership between SC Johnson and the club, which engages and educates the local Anfield Community on the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling and is helping to upcycle 500,000 plastic bottles collected at Anfield across the season before reusing them in Mr Muscle packaging.

Kuyt was joined by Alan VanderMolen, SC Johnson’s chief communications officer
Kuyt was joined by Alan VanderMolen, SC Johnson’s chief communications officer

And SC Johnson’s chief communications officer, Alan VanderMolen, reckons it is a fantastic way to spread the sustainability message to fans while reducing plastic waste in the community.

After joining Kuyt for a kickabout at the Anfield Sports & Community Centre, the 57-year-old explained: “The ‘Goals for Change’ partnership helps address issues in the underserved part of the community as well as focusing on sustainability goals that we share with the club.

“We think the important message from collecting over half a million bottles is for fans to understand that we can capture everyday garbage and turn that into useful products.

“We call that a closed loop system so there is no plastic waste that escapes Anfield and makes it into the community.”

VanderMolen hopes the ‘Don’t Lose Your Bottle’ campaign will get kids talking about the environment around the dinner table with their parents, while simultaneously helping them uphold sporting values.

He added: “The ‘Don’t Lose Your Bottle’ campaign has got two meanings. The first is in terms of being cool on the pitch, demonstrating great sportsmanship and doing the same in your daily lives in the community.

“And at the same time we use the bottle to start to promote the plastic waste issue in the community and help kids learn from a very early age how to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The LFC Foundation - the charitable arm of the club - and SC Johnson have teamed up to give Key Stage 1-3 aged children an LFC-branded reusable plastic bottle that they, crucially, must not lose while learning about sustainability
The LFC Foundation - the charitable arm of the club - and SC Johnson have teamed up to give Key Stage 1-3 aged children an LFC-branded reusable plastic bottle that they, crucially, must not lose while learning about sustainability

“Getting these bottles into the community, we think is terrific. It gives the kids a good opportunity to go home and talk to their parents about what it means not to lose your bottle both in terms of sportsmanship and in terms of starting to behave a little bit differently with plastic waste at home.”

Matt Parish, chief executive of the LFC Foundation, believes the campaign can piggyback the organic interest and concern for the planet that exists in young people while showing them how they can personally have a tangible impact.

The 48-year-old explained: “In our experience, young people are genuinely passionate about the environment and making a change but sometimes it’s hard to see how they can make a difference, but with simple messaging we can get across that the small things do add up.

“Plastic waste is something they see every day and they feel like they are making an impact. It’s massive to have Dirk Kuyt here as he’s a huge legend and it just adds that little bit of stardust to what we are doing.”

SC Johnson and Liverpool FC are working together to help fight plastic waste. Through a series of activities this Earth Month, they are educating LFC fans, Liverpool’s local community and local students on the importance of reduce, reuse and recycle.

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