A Green Race Indeed! Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K Sustainability Report

A big, fast race on a cold day downtown, and two volunteers had to manage the entire Zero Waste effort. It would be hard to beat last year’s 96.7 percent landfill diversion with under six pounds of trash. Would they be flying it, or would it be a scundered bollox job? See below!

Sustainability Report: Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K 2018
Date: March 11, 2018
Event company: RF Events, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Downtown Ann Arbor, MI
# Attendees: 1,520
Zero Waste Team volunteers: 2

Zero Waste Team Captain: Ed Green

Race Overview

Shamrocks & Shenanigans is a St. Patrick’s Day-themed race taking place in downtown Ann Arbor. The course runs mainly down and back Main Street from the center of downtown to Michigan Stadium. The Irish pub Conor O’Neill’s is next to the finish area, and they set up a beer garden nearby (they manage that area, and they recycle).

The Zero Waste team is busiest after the race, when people crowd into the parking lot that serves as the finishing area. In addition to food waste and containers, there are the empty boxes from the finishers award of pint glasses.

Zero Waste Plan

We deployed four of our Zero Hero tents: one in the signup area, one in the finish area near the food table, one in front of the Starbucks at Main and Liberty, and one near the starting line. Plastic wrap from the finisher medals was bagged separately. Cups at the single aid station were collected and taken to the finish area.

Compostables were collected for Zero Waste Washtenaw, who took them to the City of Ann Arbor’s composting facility.

The City of Ann Arbor provided a recycling bin for standard items (cardboard, paper, glass, some plastics). The recyclables that could not go in the bin (plastic bags, coffee cups, Styrofoam) were saved and given to Jeff (Happy Planet Running) for recycling after the event.


Nearly 99 percent diversion, and less than half the trash of the 2017 race (2 lbs. vs. 5.7 lbs.). A terrific result!

Breakdown by waste stream:

  • Compostables: 46 lbs. (30.7 %)
  • Recyclables: 102 lbs. (68 %)
  • Landfill: 2 lbs. (1.3 %)

What Went Right

Despite having only two Zero Waste volunteers until takedown (when more people pitched in), everything went well!

Opportunities for Improvement

As with last year, ice cream was handed out to the kids afterward, which unfortunately came in Styrofoam cups. Also as with last year, it was too cold for the ice cream to be very popular, so the impact on the trash was minimal. We did our best to put ice cream in the compost and the Styrofoam cups with the recycling.

(Note: the cups were taken back and given to Jeff, who rinsed them and took them to Recycle Ann Arbor.)

What We’ll Do Differently Next Time

Perhaps investigate an alternative to Styrofoam containers for the kid treats.

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