Sustainability Report: Pi Day 5K 2017

Date: March 14, 2017
Event company: Epic Races, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Hudson Mills Metropark, Dexter, MI
# Attendees: 300 runners + staff + spectators
Zero Waste Team volunteers: 4

Race Overview

The Pi Run is an annual event held on 3/14. Its name celebrates both pi, the number, and pie, the food. About 250 runners showed up to run a chilly 5K at Hudson Mills Metropark, with the option of a “pie in the face” at the finish line. Then they enjoyed pizza and Achatz Four Berry pie.

A few (fool)hardy souls signed up for the “Pi Division” and ate a (large) piece of pie BEFORE running the 5K. No hands allowed, and the more left on the plate, the higher a time penalty suffered. But they got to start before everyone else, so they could vomit in relative privacy!

Pi Run - Pi Division eating

This was the very first Zero Waste event for Epic Races, where they wanted to use their two newly purchased Zero Hero tents. Happy Planet Running was happy to assist, and Jeff even ran the race – Pi Division, of course! (Above, in black cap and yellow wind vest.)

Zero Waste Plan

As baby, it was cold outside, the post-event food and festivities were moved indoors. As space was limited, Zero Hero Advocates were used instead of tents. Four Advocates were deployed in the main room and near the exit.

Food was just pizza and slices of pie. Some pie was served in recyclable plastic, but most was served in compostable paper boats, with small wood forks, also compostable. Cups and water bottles were collected for recycling.

Pi Day - Staffed Advocate


The event achieved 97 percent landfill diversion. An amazing result for an initial Zero Waste event, especially with last minute planning!

Breakdown by waste stream:

  • Compostables: 26.6 lbs. (30.3 %)
  • Recyclables: 58.5 lbs. (66.7 %)
  • Landfill: 2.6 lbs. (3 %)

What Went Right

The Advocates were a good choice for a small room filled with people. The busiest stations were staffed with volunteers, which reduced the amount of final sorting needed.

Bearclaw Coffee brought a coffee van to keep runners and spectators warm. All their materials are certified compostable, so cups, lids, sleeves, and tissues all went into the same bin.

Opportunities for Improvement

Despite clear signage, proper disposal suffered when someone was not staffing an Advocate. Regular patrolling and sorting kept things under control, but it pointed out again the need to have assistance at each station.

The coffee truck volunteered to take the compost, as their company only serves compostable materials and has a facility to process them. But they left before we were finished collecting the waste and we had to implement Plan B – take the compostables back to HQ, where they will be collected by someone else.

What We’ll Do Differently Next Time

Move the fourth Advocate into the main room. The one by the exit was hardly used.

Ensure every station has a volunteer to assist the runners with proper disposal of their waste.

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