RF Events Ann Arbor Turkey Trot 2022 Sustainability Report

This year’s downtown Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning had the best weather for the event in the six years I’ve worked it. And I had a crew of five assisting me! After a year of scrambling for help, this was something to be truly grateful for.

Runners start at Liberty St. and Fourth Ave., and the line stretched for more than a block. And, as usual, there were plenty of colorful costumes.

Like last year, we set up the main Zero Waste station at the corner of Liberty St. and Fifth Ave., close to the Bearclaw Coffee truck serving the post-race hot chocolate. Registration and the awards area were one block further east, and we placed a table there with a couple of All Waste boxes, and checked them periodically. We also covered city trash cans along Liberty between Fifth and the start/finish line at Fourth Ave. and put All Waste boxes on top.

Along with hot chocolate, RF provided water bottles, bananas, and chocolate chip cookies. And we got some cups from nearby coffee shops. The biggest contributor to compost was the hot chocolate cups. For recycling, cardboard was the most by weight, water bottles by volume.

Everything went smoothly, and we were able to handle the post-race rush and have the entire two blocks cleaned up at takedown. Just a couple of hiccups. We didn’t cover one City recycling bin at first, which resulted in people putting banana peels and other trash in it. And many water bottles were left along the sidewalk near the start/finish. A staffed second station there might be helpful.

We had a great crew of volunteers. With their help, we were able to keep up with the post-race rush at the main station while also policing the registration and awards area and the finish line. Thanks, Abdul, Noora, Brenda, and Kubra, and staffer Debbie!

The six-year trend chart below is worth a look. Note the switch of the composting and recycling totals in 2019 due to switching from waxed cups to compostable cups. Also note the large dropoff in total waste generated after 2019. Contributors include making T-shirts optional, fewer individually-packaged food options, and less packaging for the finisher medals. This year, even with 500 more runners, total waste dropped again, cutting waste per runner by over half. It’s really great to see how RF Events has evolved its approach to managing event waste over the years. Thankful for that as well!

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