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Happy Planet Running

Run a great race. Leave no trace.

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Flirt with Dirt 5K/10K Sustainability Report

This event represented a first for Happy Planet Running – leaving the Zero Waste station unattended for an entire race. Yes, perhaps a more fitting title for this was Flirt with Disaster, but I don’t get to name the races. I’m just the Trashman.

How did this come about? A very fortunate event – the resumption of live races – combined with a shortage of volunteers and being double-booked on this particular day. But we had a couple of things going for us here. There were only about 300 runners signed up, the event was over quickly, and Flirt with Dirt has a history of producing very little landfill – like one small baggie’s worth. So we gave it a shot.

I set up a single station near the finish line, with a large bin for recycling, smaller ones for compostables and snack wrappers, and pails for landfill. Then I said a prayer and headed off to the other race I had that morning.

I came back to find everything in good order. Post-race sorting was minimal. I’m sure it helped that many, if not most, of the athletes go to multiple RF Events races, and thus are accustomed to our Zero Waste program. All the same, not something I would like to do again, if avoidable.

And the result? The top image says it all. Baggie for the third year in a row! Report below. (Click to enlarge.)

The Roar Restored: RF Events Stegosaurus Tri Sustainability Report

The RF Events T-Rex series of triathlons is finally back in business, and kicked off June 2 at the Island Lake Rec Area with its brand-new fourth in the series, the Stegosaurus! Despite a cold, rainy afternoon fit for neither man nor dinosaur, several hundred eager athletes braved the weather for a half mile swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 5K run. And, as usual, Happy Planet Running was there, keeping the event Zero Waste.

One new development was the absence of park trash cans. This worked out well, since there was no confusion about where the athletes would stash their trash. Our Zero Waste Station model changed as well, replacing the scattered tent & bin approach with one main station with sorting done real-time. Transition had one pail at each end for all waste, and the finish area had one recycling bin and a bag for plastic wrap. With overhead reduced, one person was able to manage the situation.

Below is the report (click to enlarge). We continue the grand tradition of less than five percent landfill at these events!

The Classic Returns: RF Events Trail Marathon Weekend 2021 Sustainability Report

April 24-25, 2021 – Pinckney Recreation Area, Silver Lake

After over a year, RF Events returned to live races this month with its longstanding (34 years) classic trail marathon, and HPR was there to support the newer tradition (5 years) of making the race Zero Waste.

Due to park restrictions, attendance was limited to 300 per day, and with additional precautions, aid station food and drink was limited. This, plus the race going “cupless” in 2019 sharply reduced overall waste. Normally, the heavy use of prepackaged snacks would lead to more landfill. But thanks to TerraCycle, we’re able to recycle all the snack wrappers, and the Gu wrappers as well, leading to a diversion rate of over 99 percent!

We continued the experiment of not using multiple waste stations and went with a single pavilion. And instead of labeled bins, we put out boxes labeled “All Waste” and the Zero Waste team did the sorting. This model worked very well both days. The only bags to sort were from the aid stations, which were taken care of relatively quickly, helped by a reduction from three aid stations on the course to two.

In addition, Trail Marathon Weekend was the first RF Events race to go Zero Waste, back in 2016, so it is also the first event where we have five years of data. The trends show a general reduction not only in landfill waste, but in all waste categories. Some of this is due to going cupless, as well as a general reduction in materials used.

Sustainability report and five-year chart are below.

Back in Business! Waterloo G&G Bike Race Sustainability Report

April 17-18, 2021 – Portage Lake Recreation Area

A gorgeous weekend for a gravel bike race. So nice, it went both days instead of just Saturday. Perhaps a certain park capacity limit due to a certain lingering ‘situation’ contributed to that, but I didn’t see anyone complaining.

The Epic Races Zero Waste effort picked right up where it left off, recycling or composting just about all of the event-generated waste. It would have been nearly zero except for a couple of boxes wrapped heavily in packing tape due to their weight.

We set up a single station near the bike racks.

In addition to recycling and composting, our “Free Stuff” box (see the corner) resulted in some castoff clothing and water bottles from previous races getting new homes.

There were a few procedural changes. There were no formal post-race parties. Instead, bags of snacks were created for each rider and placed by their station for pickup after they finished. So overall waste was down significantly, as most people left with their treats, but there was enough waste to make it worth the effort. And a Bearclaw Coffee truck was there as usual, and a hot dog stand on Saturday.

Results below. A good start to what will hopefully be a good year!

2019 HPR Annual Activity Report

What a year! 41 events supported, and an average landfill diversion rate of over 95 percent with no waste sent to incineration. According to the Zero Waste International Alliance, and as a commonly used definition, a diversion rate of over 90 percent is considered “zero waste.”

Many thanks to my clients RF Events, Epic Races, the Ann Arbor Track Club and others, who have made the additional investments to recycle, compost, and reduce event waste rather than send it all to landfill. And the athletes appreciate it too, as evidenced by the thanks and support we get from them at every event.

Thanks also to TerraCycle, whose Zero Waste Boxes and programs allow us to recycle many things we’d normally have to throw away, such as Gu wrappers, disposable gloves, party supplies, hand warmers, and much more.

See below for highlights and lots of juicy data for those of you who like numbers like I do. And if you want to see more, check out the sustainability reports on this website. The 2019 events are all there!

Continue reading “2019 HPR Annual Activity Report”

Skiin’ in the Rain! Frosty Freestyle Sustainability Report

The first HPR-supported race of 2020 didn’t exactly go as planned. Who was expecting 50 degrees and all-day rain in the middle of January? But the park had snow and the skiiers wanted to ski, so the races went on, which mean the Zero Waste effort was on, too! Below is the sustainability report and some few photos.

The five 5K skiers prepare to start. (To be fair, most were doing the 15K.)
Plenty of food, including hot breakfast burritos, coffee, and cocoa.
Zero Hero Advocates were used for the waste stations. We also saved race bibs for reuse.

Ho, Ho, Zero! Holiday Hustle Sustainability Report

The final RF Events race of each year is the Holiday Hustle, and over 2,000 runners braved the cold and came out to run a mile or the 5K. And, of course, we couldn’t lower our Zero Waste standards just because it’s a little cold and dark (okay, really dark). Could we improve on 2018’s landfill total of just five pounds? See below!

Continue reading “Ho, Ho, Zero! Holiday Hustle Sustainability Report”

Snapshot Sustainability Report: Leftovers Run

A race to use up leftovers from other races! What a concept! Runners got their choice of a 5K, 10K, or 15K and received bibs, shirts, and finisher medals from random events. Plus French toast (made with leftover bread), cider, and hot chocolate. All that with Zero Waste, of course!

Snapshot Sustainability Report - Leftovers Run 2019

Stuffing Runners, Not the Trash: RF Events Turkey Trot Sustainability Report

Over 4,000 runners and less than two pounds of landfill. Now there’s something to be grateful for!

RF Events continued its tradition of a Thanksgiving Day 5K in downtown Ann Arbor, and turkeys, giant fruit, and Christmas characters (even a Grinch) were there to run the 5K. (And some regular runners showed up, too.) We fed them bananas, cookies, and hot chocolate. Did we do all that with minimal waste? You bet your wattle. See below!

Continue reading “Stuffing Runners, Not the Trash: RF Events Turkey Trot Sustainability Report”

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