Cupless races rock.

That pretty much sums up the Zero Waste effort at Trail Marathon Weekend this year. A great weekend of running out in nature, and minimizing our environmental footprint. Pretty hard to top that.

Back in 2016, this was the first Zero Waste race RF Events put on, thanks in large part to a grant from the Can’d Aid Foundation, set up mainly for recycling aluminum cans but happy to support a larger goal. That year we processed nearly 500 lbs. of total waste, with only 46 going to landfill – crazy good for a first effort. And it only got better from there. Have a look at the results since then, with big drops in overall waste along with steadily improving landfill diversion from 90 percent to nearly 99 percent.

Several things contributed to this record of awesomeness. Along with increased use of compostable materials, reduction in medal size and weight (and going local) and going to optional T-shirts cut way down on cardboard use. And when the event went cupless in 2019, both the weight and volume of collected waste dropped dramatically. Composting and recycling are great, but less waste is always best for the planet!

This year, with attendance still down from pre-pandemic years, we got by just fine with one station at the start/finish, and policing the Sunday marathon/50K loop food station.

Marathoners refueling after a loop. The Zero Waste Station can be seen to the left. Straight through the tent is the Catered Coffee truck, just about our only source of cups. S’okay. We need our coffee.

And special thanks to my Sunday afternoon team of volunteers, who fell on the aid station bags like runners on a pizza and got everything sorted and weighed in record time. Thanks!

Yours truly third from left.

Looking forward to 2023, where there will hopefully be lots more people, and even less waste!