Great Kickoff to 2019: Frosty Freestyle Sustainability Report

There was no natural snow on the ground, but the lodge had made enough to cover the race course. It was a bit unusual to see a white stripe on the exposed green and brown golf course, but it was fine for skiing. So the Frosty Freestyle races went on, and the Zero Waste team was there to keep it all clean.

Sustainability Report: Frosty Freestyle Ski Weekend 2019
Date: January 12-13, 2019
Event company: Epic Races, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Huron Meadows Metropark
# Attendees: 250 runners + staff + spectators
Zero Waste Team size: 2 per day

pie chart - frosty freestyle 2019Results: 99 percent landfill diversion

Trash was mostly disposable hand warmers and a few takeout burger wrappers.

Comparison vs. 2018:  Compostables remained about the same, recyclables dropped 25 percent and landfill trash decreased from 3.1 pounds.

Race Overview

The Frosty Freestyle is a two-day weekend featuring ski races of various types and distances, including a kids race led by Frosty the Snowman. Race distances for the adults ranged from 5K to 15K. Registration, food, and awards were in the clubhouse.

Breakfast burritos were served on Saturday and pancakes on Sunday, as well as bananas, pretzels, and cookies. The clubhouse kitchen served drinks and snack bags.

Zero Waste Plan

We set up three waste stations inside the clubhouse, two along the back wall and one by the main exit. Existing trash bins were covered with contractor bags.

Plates, cups, and utensils were all compostable, simplifying the waste stream and eliminating the need to rinse any items. We supplied the clubhouse kitchen with compostable coffee cups. The food prep staff used plain paper table covers, which could be composted, instead of vinyl disposable covers.

frosty freestyle 2019 - food table
Food table. Note the plain paper table covers, and compostable plates and deli wraps for the burritos.

Special items, such as latex/vinyl gloves, snack wrappers, and small plastics, were collected for TerraCycle. Also, many skiers discard their bibs after this race, so we set out specially marked boxes for them.

frosty freestyle 2019 - returning race bibs

Waste Streams Processed

Compostables went to the WeCare facility in Ann Arbor. Extra pancakes and other surplus food was given to race staff or donated to someone to feed to their chickens.

Cardboard, boxboard, plastics, paper and waxed paper cups were taken to the Western Washtenaw Recycling dropoff. Styrofoam and plastic wrap were taken to Recycle Ann Arbor. Special recyclables went into Happy Planet Running’s TerraCycle boxes.

Post-event waste processing was minimal. Just a few honey mustard containers, one hummus container, and some plastic bags with food scraps needed rinsing before recycling.

What Went Well

Supplying the park kitchen with compostable cups meant we had very few waxed cups to deal with, and only one Styrofoam cup.

Using marked boxes for returning race bibs resulted in recovering many in good enough condition to reuse next year. The crinkled ones will be recycled through TerraCycle.


Just a couple of nuisances. Like last year, a lot of the small bib string clips were scattered on the floor and had to be picked up individually. Twizzler wrappers get into the compost bags and are also sometimes broken into several pieces by the athletes.

Opportunities for Improvement

I’m on the lookout for rechargable hand warmers that could be loaned out to runners and returned, or made available for purchase.

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