Cold Turkey: The Original Ann Arbor Turkey Trot 2022 Sustainability Report

Well, the weather gave us a rude awakening here in Michigan. Literally overnight we went from 60-degrees and sunny to 30 degrees and overcast, and it looks like we’re gonna stay that way a while. But the plunge from summer to winter (what happened to fall?) didn’t deter our hardy runners from coming out to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with the Epic Races turkey trot at Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter. The race also supports Food Gatherers, who bring a truck to collect non-perishable donations.

Runners can choose the 5K, 10K, or the “Iron Turkey” option for those brave enough to run both. There is also a one-mile kids run and a 200-yard dash for the youngest runners, who chase a giant turkey to the finish line.

Grace and I set up the Zero Waste Station on the concrete patio across from the food tables. It was a cold morning but with very little wind, so we didn’t bother setting up a canopy. We also tested out my new sign brace, although with little wind it wasn’t challenged much.

One big change from last year was fewer trash cans in the park. This was a good thing for the Green Team because we didn’t need to move or cover them, except those in the building and the three exits. We put All Waste boxes at each exit and inside.

We had a great team of volunteers from the U-M pre-med society Alpha Epsilon Delta. With their help we stayed on top of sorting, policed the area, and got everything taken down and packed up by their shift end at 12:30.

The food tent served hot mac & cheese, and pancakes, with compostable plates and forks, along with bananas and cookies.

One little hiccup was the “Free Stuff” box, which I put too close to the boxes of race T-shirts, so a few of those were taken by people thinking they were free. Oops. And when Food Gatherers left early, some canned donations wound up on our second station table. (The Epic staff delivered it later.)

Total waste was just about the same as last year, although with lower attendance the waste per runner was higher. It’s possible spectators and staff ate more. Landfill was cut by over half, from five pounds to two, helped by rinsing out the mac & cheese pouches instead of landfilling them.

And so ends another “Epic” season of zero waste events, with a diversion rate of 98 percent!

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