Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had an event to work. But Happy Planet Running is still here! And when racing resumes, so will my work to keep events as Zero Waste as possible.
The last event I helped with, the Super 5K in February, seems like it happened years ago. Now it’s a different world, and who really knows what lies ahead post-pandemic.
One casualty has been recycling. While curbside collections have continued in my area, the dropoff centers were closed for a while, and are just now starting to reopen to the public. Some items, like Styrofoam, need to be taken there, so it was piling up in my garage until recently.
We’ve seen another reversal away from reusables to disposables, with the banning of reusable bags at many stores. Some are using paper, but big stores like Meijer offer only plastic bags. And coffee shops are dispensing into disposable cups only. Fortunately I have ways to recycle or compost these items, but in general it means more trash going to landfill, or ending up by the side of the road. Hopefully we can return to reusables in the future.
Good news on the compost side, however – the two commercial composting facilities in my area remained open, with some adjustments and restrictions, so when events restart we’ll be able to process food waste and other organics as usual.
And the Ann Arbor Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), three years after its shutdown, is going to be updated and reopened! This is terrific news. Currently, the recyclables collected by Recycle Ann Arbor are trucked to Cincinnati for processing. Having this done at our local MRF means a lower carbon footprint and they can charge for processing materials instead of paying someone else to.
I’m also working on some new guidelines for hosting a Zero Waste event, and developing a way to recognize smaller events who can’t afford formal certification for their hard work.
So while there may not be any events at present, things are happening! Stay tuned to this website for updates.