Grin and Beer It: Oberun 5K Sustainability Report

If you “beer it” they will come…

The Oberun – a beer party with a 5K thrown in – takes place at Wiard’s Orchards in Ypsilanti. The always-popular event hadn’t been run since 2019, for reasons we’re all aware of, but people hadn’t forgotten what a good time it is. And once again, beer sales went to benefit the Border-to-Border Trail. As a frequent user of said trail, I was all too happy to be part of this event.

We set up the main Zero Waste station in the center of the party area, and another station at each of the two entrances/exits. We used 96-gallon bins for beer cans and compostables, and pails or smaller cardboard bins for snack wrappers, water bottles, and specialty items (loose bottle caps, race bibs, etc.).

As expected, once the 1,600-plus runners finished, things got hot and heavy for the Green Team. Fortunately, one of my staffers brought along a volunteer (thanks, Meredith!) so with her, me, Rachael, and Debbie, we had just enough people to keep up with the rush.

Debbie holding down the fort at the main station as things heat up.
Meredith dealt with incoming water bottles and outgoing beer cans. (In the background, part of the starting queue for the 5K.)
Rachael shows folks where to put it.

And we have many others to thank for helping make this event a Zero Waste success!

Many thanks to the food trucks – Shimmy Shack, Simply Spanish, and PB&J BBQ – for going compostable, so all the food, plates, and utensils could go straight into the compost bins. With waste coming at us thick and fast, it saved us a lot of time and energy that would have otherwise gone into extra sorting.

Also many thanks to the finish line crew, who collected and flattened the cardboard from pint glass and medals boxes and brought it to the main station, and to the beer table crew, who flattened and brought us the boxboard from cases of beer cans. Much appreciated.

With the beautiful evening and free-flowing beer, takedown was a scramble. We couldn’t shut down the stations at the exits until most people had left, so we had to do most of it in the dark. We managed, thanks to the great work by the team, who kept all the bins and bags well sorted, and dealt with the inevitable last-minute stuff.

A new record for snack bag-stuffed water bottles! (Some others not shown.) The damaged pint glasses will be sent to a ceramics recycler.

I chose to rent a 6×12 trailer instead of a truck this year, because, mainly, I hate driving trucks. So getting everything back to HPR HQ required two trips, one for the event waste, and another to collect the equipment. Another big shout-out to Rachael and Meredith, who followed me home and helped me unload all the collected waste, and again to Rachael for showing up the next morning to help me weigh and load the waste back into the trailer for dropoff at WWRA and Tuthill Farms.

The end result was even better than expected. Another 99 percenter! Worth the effort, I’d say.

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