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Green Race, Green Results! Shamrocks & Shenanigans 2019 Sustainability Report

It was a cold, wet morning in Ann Arbor, but over a thousand brave souls turned up to run a 5K (and drink beer), and some equally brave kids ran a 1K (and ate ice cream). The Zero Waste team had to do its best to stay reasonably dry and warm while making sure the boxes, bottles, cups, and food waste ended up where they belonged.

Did we keep the race “green” in keeping with St. Paddy’s Day tradition? Sure’n we did! Read on for details, ladies and laddies!

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Sustainability Report: Shamrocks & Shenanigans 2019
Date: March 10, 2019
Event company: RF Events, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Downtown Ann Arbor, MI
# Attendees: 1,200 runners, with about 100 spectators and staff
Zero Waste Team members: 5

Results:   Compostables: 29.4 lbs.     Recyclables: 89 lbs.     Landfill: 1.2 lbs.

Pie and Trend Charts - Shamrocks and Shenanigans 2019

Landfill waste consisted mostly of the ice cream cup tops (waxed paper), some plastic material too contaminated to recycle, and tape. Special recyclables (for TerraCycle) included disposable gloves, discarded race bibs, hand warmers, and costumes.

Race Overview

Shamrocks & Shenanigans is a St. Patrick’s Day-themed race in downtown Ann Arbor. The main event is a 5K, and a 1K kids race is also offered. The event ends in the parking lot of an Irish pub, with a beer garden set up for the thirsty finishers. For the younger set, there was orange juice and ice cream.

Shamrocks and Shenanigans 2019 - Kids after food table
I’m not exactly sure what they thought of all this…

Sources of race waste include finish line water bottles and food, cardboard from the boxes of medals and pint glasses, and plastic wrappings from the finisher medals. Beer garden waste is managed by the pub.

Zero Waste Plan

Due to windy and wet conditions, we used rubber “Slim Jim” bins instead of Zero Hero tents. We set up three stations in the parking lot; at the end of the food table, at the Ground Zero pavilion (in the parking lot near the finish line), and near the vendor tents. The food table received a pail for disposable gloves and other waste that could not recycled or composted. Plastic wrap from the medals was collected prior to race start.

Shamrocks and Shenanigans 2019 - Melissa staffing a station

Shamrocks and Shenanigans 2019 - Scott helps person at station

Post-race food was minimal – bananas, bagels, and ice cream cups (which, rather surprisingly, got used up).

We did not set up stations or cover City trash bins in the starting area at Main and Liberty, as not much waste is generated by the runners there. Instead, two Zero Waste team members swept the starting line area, picking up waste found in the street and sidewalks. (Most of what we collected was likely not from the runners, but it was recoverable.)

We received a six-yard recycle dumpster and two 96-gallon compost carts from the City. We covered the carts to avoid having them treated as general trash cans.

Post-Event Waste Processing

The cardboard and bags of non-cup recyclables were put in the recycle dumpster. HPR took the bags of cups, plastic bags/wrap, and special materials for proper disposal. Cups went to WWRA, bags to Recycle Ann Arbor, and special materials to the TerraCycle Zero Waste Boxes.

About 50 Styrofoam ice cream cups were recovered. Jeff rinsed them and took them to Recycle Ann Arbor. The accompanying plastic spoons were put in a TerraCycle box.

What Went Well

Using the Slim Jims avoided the trouble of wet tents and keeping them anchored. And setting up a pavilion at Ground Zero proved valuable in helping keep the team drier, if not warmer.

Shamrocks and Shenanigans 2019 - Me at Ground Zero

The Zero Waste team volunteers were terrific, gamely staffing the stations in the poor weather and making takedown smooth and fast. Thanks, all!

Shamrocks and Shenanigans 2019 - Zero Waste Team

This year pint glasses were an option item purchased separately ahead of time, rather than all runners receiving them as a finisher award. This cut down the waste cardboard significantly.

Challenges

Shamrocks and Shenanigans 2019 - Pail of Styrofoam cupsThe sticky ice cream cups were a nuisance, but we minimized the problem by having people put them and the spoons in the blue pails rather than the recycle bins. At race end all pails were put into a single bag for final sorting later.

Opportunities for Improvement

A more environmentally friendly solution for the ice cream would be nice, as well as using compostable spoons rather than plastic.

The six-yard recycling dumpster was more than enough for our needs. Also, we only had a single bag of compostables. We can make adjustments next year, and possibly put everything in just a couple of recycling carts and a single compost cart.

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And It’s Good! Super 5K 2019 Sustainability Report

This year’s Super 5K had decent weather and a good turnout, with football regalia all about, and a visit by the Detroit Lions mascot. The Zero Waste effort scored big overall, but had several annoying fumbles by the runners. I think we had more pint glasses broken than points scored in the Super Bowl!

Continue reading “And It’s Good! Super 5K 2019 Sustainability Report”

“Yeti ‘nother” Great Result! Bigfoot Snowshoe Race 2019 Sustainability Report

Welcome to the Bigfoot Snowshoe race, where the temperature – and the trash – were both close to zero this year!

You know a Zero Waste effort is going well when you have less than one pound of trash but still want to do better. And then we found a way to reduce it to nearly nothing! Read on to find out how, and see the end of this report for a bonus.

Continue reading ““Yeti ‘nother” Great Result! Bigfoot Snowshoe Race 2019 Sustainability Report”

Great Kickoff to 2019: Frosty Freestyle Sustainability Report

There was no natural snow on the ground, but the lodge had made enough to cover the race course. It was a bit unusual to see a white stripe on the exposed green and brown golf course, but it was fine for skiing. So the Frosty Freestyle races went on, and the Zero Waste team was there to keep it all clean.

Continue reading “Great Kickoff to 2019: Frosty Freestyle Sustainability Report”

Damn Good Year! 2018 in Review

What a year! Here are the results from events serviced by Happy Planet Running in 2018, with 95 percent average landfill diversion! Here’s the breakdown by waste stream.

pie chart - 2018 waste stream totals

By the numbers:

Number of events: 34
Total attendance: 48,000
Total waste managed: 15,700 lbs. (nearly eight tons!)

Best events: RF Events Flirt with Dirt, the Epic Races Hot Cocoa Classic, and the Upland Hills 5K/10K, all with less than a pound of landfill trash!

Maker:L,Date:2017-9-7,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-Y

Thanks so much to my clients RF Events, Epic Races, Girls on the Run SE Michigan, Upland Hills School, and the Ann Arbor Track Club. In an economic environment where it’s still cheaper to throw things away than to recycle, these organizations have chosen to put our natural environment first, and have made an investment in sustainability. And the athletes showed their appreciation at every event!

2019 promises to be another busy year for Happy Planet Running, with the added challenge of an uncertain recycling market. So we’ll look for overall waste reduction and a shift toward more compostable materials where possible.

And in the breaking news department: RF Events is making one of their trail running series CUPLESS this year! Check it out at their Trail Marathon website.

Now for the shameless plug. Do you know of an event that could benefit from Zero Waste practices? Drop me an email on the Contact HPR page and let me know how Happy Planet Running can help!

Palm Beach Turkey Trot - Sam next to trash can
Don’t let your event be like this!

Holiday Hustle 2018 Sustainability Report

It was Hustle time in downtown Dexter, with a beautiful sunny afternoon highlighting the colorful decorations and the costumes of runners. But it was cold, which was a challenge for those working the race instead of running it.

Challenges for the Zero Waste team include setting up in the cold, takedown in the dark and cold, and waste that piles up quickly from the stations and the food and registration tents, Still, in 2017 we ended up with just five pounds of landfill. How did we do this year? See below!

Continue reading “Holiday Hustle 2018 Sustainability Report”

Stuff Turkeys, not Trash Bags! Ann Arbor Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot Sustainability Report

What’s one way to really appreciate a hot Thanksgiving Day dinner with family and friends? Run a cold 5K in the morning!

This Thanksgiving Day 3,400 runners toed the line in downtown Ann Arbor for a turkey trot and warmed up with cookies, coffee, and hot chocolate afterward. So despite hand and feet-numbing cold, the Zero Waste team had to be on the job. Last year we kept the total landfill trash under three pounds and achieved 99 percent diversion Could we repeat it? Find out below!

Continue reading “Stuff Turkeys, not Trash Bags! Ann Arbor Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot Sustainability Report”

Cold Turkey? Epic Races Turkey Trot Sustainability Report

The metropark was covered in snow from the night before, but the Turkey Trot went on as scheduled, and some folks were brave enough to earn an “Iron Turkey” by running both the 5K and 10K. But there was hot food and a wood-burning stove waiting to warm up the runners, and the Zero Waste team was there to make sure the day wasn’t spoiled with a lot of trash. See how we did below!

Continue reading “Cold Turkey? Epic Races Turkey Trot Sustainability Report”

Choc Up Another Good Race! Hot Cocoa Classic Sustainability Report

How do you attract runners to a November morning race with a steep climb in it? With chocolate, of course! With a “chocolate aid station” and hot cocoa for recovery, several hundred people cheerfully ran or walked up and down the Mt. Brighton ski hill.

The challenge for the Zero Waste team is handling a lot of waste in a short window, as the resort opens for general business later in the morning. Could we match, and even improve, last year’s landfill diversion of over 98 percent? Read on to find out!

Continue reading “Choc Up Another Good Race! Hot Cocoa Classic Sustainability Report”

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