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Happy Planet Running

Run a great race. Leave no trace.

Plastic Recycling Gets A Boost, and More

Some really good things have been happening recently with plastic recycling. And a few of them relate directly to the plastic we consume and discard at running events.

Even at the Zero Waste events I work at and/or run in, plastic remains highly used, from water bottles and jugs to coffee and beer cups, disposable plates and tableware, and more. The good news is that most of it is highly recyclable. But some of it is not accepted by recyclers, and, I’m sad to say, too much of it ends up in landfills, or worse, in sewers or waterways where it wends its way to the oceans, as part of the estimated eight million metric tons added each year.

So I’m pleased to relate some examples of how some of this plastic waste is either being recovered, or otherwise diverted into productive reuse. It’s a start – and YOU can help!

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Flirting with Zero! Flirt with Dirt achieves 99% Diversion

ONE BROKEN PINT GLASS. One discarded race bib. A few strands of masking tape. A few odds and ends. That was it for trash.

Sustainability Report: Flirt with Dirt 2017
Date: June 3, 2017
Event company: RF Events, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Lakeshore Park, Novi MI
# Attendees: 500 runners
Zero Waste Team volunteers: 3

Race Overview

Flirt with Dirt is a Saturday morning 5K and 10K through running and bike trails at a park in Novi. It’s part of the RF Events “Serious Series” that includes a half marathon (The Legend) and Trail Marathon (5 miles up to 50K).

This event is short and sweet; the 5K starts at 7:30 a.m., the 10K at 8:15, and it’s all over and done with by 10:30. It’s popular both with seasoned trail runners, (many of whom choose to run both distances) and families; the 10-14 age group had more 5K runners than most of the adult age groups!

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Don’t Just Toss Those Old Race Clothes!

Look, I get it. I’ve run plenty of wet, sloppy trail races. You expect a mess, so you bring along an old pair of shoes you intend to “retire” immediately after the race. You cross the finish line, change into clean and dry clothes, have a celebratory banana and beer, and then into the trash go the shoes, and your socks too, and maybe even your shirt.

But once they go into the trash, the opportunity to reuse them or donate them to a worthy cause is likely lost forever. Unless the event has a Zero Waste team, and they have time after sorting food waste and recyclables to search though the trash, and they feel so inclined to retrieve the dirty, soaked clothes.

“You mean you really want them?” I heard you asking. Well, actually, yes.

Here’s some friendly, and I hope useful, advice to any runners reading this who wonder how clothes that are wet, muddy, torn, or otherwise rendered undesirable can be salvaged and sent to a better place than a landfill.

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The GSB Interview: Jamie Simon, Greening the LA Marathon

GreenSportsBlog

The Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon is one of the biggest in the United States, drawing 25,000+ runners from all over the world each year. The race passes through four cities, each with their own sustainability (recycling, composting, etc.) protocols and vendor contracts. Getting all four cities to pull together to deliver as sustainable an event as possible is a logistical challenge of epic proportions. To find out how they’re going about it, GSB talked with Jamie Simon, the Sustainability Consultant for Conqur Endurance Group, the event organizer.

GreenSportsBlog: Jamie, thanks for joining us. How did you get involved with Conqur Endurance Group?

Jamie Simon: I joined Conqur Endurance Group as a sustainability consultant. Before that I had been sustainability director of Red Bull USA

GSB: That must’ve been fascinating. When were you there?

JS: From 1999-2009, with the last two years in the sustainability role. The…

View original post 1,043 more words

Hightail to Ale: Zero Waste in the Rain

Sustainability Report: Hightail to Ale 5K
Date: May 5, 2017
Event company: RF Events, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Atwater Brewery, Detroit MI
# Attendees: 2,900 runners
Zero Waste Team volunteers: 4, plus basketball team members

Hightail to Ale is one of the “Thirsty 3” series that celebrates great beer, wine, and cider in southern Michigan. It takes place on the streets near the Atwater Brewery in Detroit, bringing several thousand runners out for a Friday night beer party with a 5K thrown in.

Waste comes mainly from the post-race party, where free beer is distributed to runners, and food trucks serve up barbecue and other local fare.

Last year the post-race waste hit us hard and fast, from the food trucks, water bottles, and thousands of cans of beer given free to finishers and sold to spectators. There was no time to weigh it, and the recovered cans disappeared from the recycle dumpsters the next day. We were determined to do better this year, despite the forecast for chilly temps and constant rain. How did we make out?
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Gazelle Girl Race Achieves 98% Diversion and Saves 2,000 lbs. From Landfill

The Gazelle Girl has done it again! Not only does this annual women’s race get more popular each year, they find new and better ways to make it more environmentally friendly. This was the event (2015) that sparked my involvement in Zero Waste at races, and led to the creation of Happy Planet Running. I was pleased and proud to be a part of it again this year!

Read on to see what was new this year with their waste management and what their vendors are doing to make sustainability a mainstream, everyday practice.

Continue reading “Gazelle Girl Race Achieves 98% Diversion and Saves 2,000 lbs. From Landfill”

Trail Marathon: A Great Anniversary Present

Happy Anniversary to RF Events! Despite the threat of lousy weather, the races went on, and the results were great both for the runners and for the environment. See below how we did vs. our very first Zero Waste event at this race last year.
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Mars Shows Earth How to Go Green!

GREETINGS, EARTHLINGS. Now that we have successfully invaded and occupied Earth, we will show you that we love it more than you do. Case in point: we came to Dearborn last Saturday – Earth Day – and ran one of the “greenest” marathons on the planet.

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Recycling Marathon Heat Blankets: There Are Ways!

When I crossed the finish line of my first marathon back in 2011, I was handed a thin, light foil blanket. A runner’s body temperature begins to drop rapidly after stopping, and this was to retain some body heat until things stabilized.

It was over eighty degrees and sunny that day, so there was no danger of hypothermia. Still, I took the blanket as a first-marathon souvenir. But last month’s local marathon was wet and chilly, so the runners appreciated them, although they created a disposal issue.

The blankets are made of Mylar, plastic vapor-coated with aluminum. Both materials are recyclable by themselves, but together they are not. And when people started discarding them en masse, the volume quickly overloaded the receptacle. The Zero Waste team decided to collect them in the chance we could keep them out of the landfill.

A2 Marathon 2017 - Blankets and Overflowing Bin.jpg

We ended up with several large bags stuffed with Mylar blankets. What could be done? After some research we identified one bad option, one good (but costly) option, and one that didn’t help for this year but might for future events. Which one did we choose? Read on to find out!

Continue reading “Recycling Marathon Heat Blankets: There Are Ways!”

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