Seven years and rocking on! Trail Marathon 2023 Sustainability Report

Cupless races continue to rock.

That summed up 2022’s Zero Waste effort at the RF Events Trail Marathon and it summed up this year as well. The event was one day this year, with all four of the usual races – 5-mile, half, marathon, and 50K – on the fabulous Potawatomi Trail in Pinckney. While total waste was up over last year, so was total attendance, so we continued to lower our environmental footprint.

This year, Jeff was leading the HPR Zero Waste effort at a different race, so (intern Rachael Rewitzer) led the Zero Waste effort here. This is the second event that I was a Captain, and I had two lovely morning volunteers, Dan and Lauren. Just one station near the finish line and beer area was all we needed.

Overall, 167.7 lbs of waste was processed with only half a pound being sent to the landfill. That is a 99.7% landfill diversion rate! Most of what was sent to the landfill was tape or contaminated food packaging brought from outside the event. Below, yours truly holds the traditional SBoT (Single Bag o’ Trash), in this case the “SPoT” (pail)!

Each runner got to enjoy pizza (served in a cardboard box) and beer (in compostable cups). This reduced total waste, with no plates or utensils needed, and no plastic! Pizza boxes can be composted if soiled and recycled when clean. The compostable cups looked so much like plastic that a few people did not believe me when I said they could be composted! 

The compostable beer cups, minimal food packaging, cupless aid stations, and cardboard pizza boxes made for a very successful, high diversion rate event! Total waste by weight increased by 17 percent compared to last year, but a 37.5% increase in attendance meant there was a 25 percent decrease in individual racer waste! The best way to benefit the environment is lowering consumption and waste production. Woop woop!

By the way, Trail Marathon was the first event that used Happy Planet Running to go Zero Waste. We’ve served this race now for seven years. Happy anniversary to us!

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