Hightail to Ale 2023 Sustainability Report

The Hightail to Ale race, held at the Atwater Brewery in Detroit, is essentially a beer and pizza party with a 5K along the riverfront thrown in. And with weather perfect for running and partying, everyone had a good time and ate and drank a lot. Which kept the Green Team busy!

Attendance was about the same as last year (around 1,100 runners), which meant we’d be handling that many beer cans plus the extras sold by the brewery. Other race waste included bags of chips, water bottles, food waste, plastic wrap, and cardboard.

And this little number promoting the Detroit Grand Prix was also there. Has nothing to do with the 5K, but hey, it was cool.

Simply Spanish used all compostables as usual, and I gave the Little Caesars truck a sleeve of compostable cups to replace the plastic ones they were going to serve extra sauce in. We did get some food-based landfill, mainly containers from the brewery and a few ranch dressing cups from the pizza truck. One step at a time…

We set up the main station in the parking lot that held the food trucks and the band, and satellite stations at the two “No Beer Past Here” boundaries. With a team of six (me plus three staffers and two volunteers) we were able to stay on top of the rush, and have a smooth and orderly takedown. A nice change from previous years!

Kaylee and Charlie at one of the satellite stations.
Kaylee, Charlie, and Emma receive another bunch of cardboard. Don’t they look excited?

And there was another big improvement. Last year, the beer was handed out on brewery property, and with a shortage of Green Team staff, we didn’t set up a station there. So the brewery staff threw any they collected into their trash dumpster. But this year, with the beer area moved back to the parking lot, we had much better control of waste collection, and we captured all the cans that were consumed in the race area.

Still, what’s a big event without a challenge? For the second year in a row, the recycling dumpster failed to show. So we had to find a place to put all the beer cans, along with the usual load of cardboard from pint glass boxes, and other recycling, along with the food waste and snack bags. Intern Emma came to the rescue by taking a big bag of cans home, and that freed up enough space in the trailer to fit everything else.

Many thanks to volunteers Elizabeth and Nanda, and my staffers Charlie, Kaylee, and Emma. Great job, everyone!

One thought on “Hightail to Ale 2023 Sustainability Report

  1. Every race needs you guys!
    Even with a deposit on cans in Massachusetts, people still toss them in the trash.
    Some things seem so obvious and simple, yet some people just don’t get it.
    I ran a 5K today and our local water authority had a water trailer with paper cups. The race organizer asked us to bring re-fillable bottles. And I had to search for a trash can.
    We are making progress.

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