Orchard Trifecta: Go Apples 2019 Sustainability Report

It was a chilly morning at Country Mill and Orchard, but the runners showed up anyway to sneak in a race and have cider and treats before the rain came. Did the Zero Waste team mind supporting “yet another” orchard race? Right. Pass the donuts, please!

Sustainability Report: Go Apples 5K and 1 Mile
Date: October 26, 2019
Event company: RF Events, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Country Mill and Orchard, Charlotte MI
# Attendees: 400
Zero Waste Team size: 2

Results:  96.5 percent landfill diversion

Pie chart - Go Apples 5K 2019.jpg

Compostables: 12.6 lbs.     Recyclables: 51.2 lbs.     Landfill: 2.3 lbs.

A chipped ceramic finisher’s mug accounted for one-third of the landfill weight. The rest consisted of tape, fast food wrappers, and other non-recyclable materials.

Race Overview

Go Apples is a new race this year, a 5K and one-miler at Country Mill and Orchard in Charlotte, MI. It’s the final of the three races in the Michigan Orchard Challenge series (the other two are the Scrumpy Skedaddle and Run Scream Run). Over one hundred runners completed all three races this month to get a special prize!

After the race, runners went inside (good on a cold day) to get cider and donuts, and the kids could enjoy the indoor inflatables park.

Go Apples 2019 - Post-race party

Zero Waste Plan

As all post-race activities took place inside the “Orchard Barn” that is where we set up Ground Zero and the waste stations. The only waste generated outside was cardboard and plastic wrap from medals, and plastic from cases of water bottles.

We set up a total of three stations (Compost, Recycle, Landfill) at the main entrance/exit, one near the bathrooms, and one in the middle of the tables. We covered a few of the orchard’s trash bins near the waste station but left those out of the race area alone, as the barn was also open to the public.

While we served cider in plastic cups, the orchard uses Styrofoam cups for its kitchen service, so we had pails set out to capture any of those items.

Post-Event Waste Processing

Recyclables were taken to Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority immediately after the event. Food waste and compostables went to Tuthill Farms, and the collected Styrofoam and plastic bags went to Recycle Ann Arbor. Some discarded race bibs, a few plastic straws, and other small plastics were saved for TerraCycle.

What Went Well

Even though the post-race party was indoors, it was still chilly, so the portable heater I brought along was very popular.

The small event “footprint” allowed us to keep all the stations in order with just two people on the Zero Waste team. Thanks for the great help, Sarah!

Go Apples 2019 - Sarah with single bag o trash
Sarah holding the single bag o’ trash.


The only “hiccup” was a 96-gallon cart just outside the barn, which some people used to discard their water bottles, banana peels, and other race waste. But it was a quick effort to remove those items and dispose of them properly.

Opportunities for Improvement

Next time, move the 96-gallon cart during the race, if it’s outside the barn.

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