Search

Happy Planet Running

Run a great race. Leave no trace.

Tag

Events

We’re Still Here!

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had an event to work. But Happy Planet Running is still here! And when racing resumes, so will my work to keep events as Zero Waste as possible.

The last event I helped with, the Super 5K in February, seems like it happened years ago. Now it’s a different world, and who really knows what lies ahead post-pandemic.

One casualty has been recycling. While curbside collections have continued in my area, the dropoff centers were closed for a while, and are just now starting to reopen to the public. Some items, like Styrofoam, need to be taken there, so it was piling up in my garage until recently.

We’ve seen another reversal away from reusables to disposables, with the banning of reusable bags at many stores. Some are using paper, but big stores like Meijer offer only plastic bags. And coffee shops are dispensing into disposable cups only. Fortunately I have ways to recycle or compost these items, but in general it means more trash going to landfill, or ending up by the side of the road. Hopefully we can return to reusables in the future.

Good news on the compost side, however – the two commercial composting facilities in my area remained open, with some adjustments and restrictions, so when events restart we’ll be able to process food waste and other organics as usual.

And the Ann Arbor Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), three years after its shutdown, is  going to be updated and reopened! This is terrific news. Currently, the recyclables collected by Recycle Ann Arbor are trucked to Cincinnati for processing. Having this done at our local MRF means a lower carbon footprint and they can charge for processing materials instead of paying someone else to.

I’m also working on some new guidelines for hosting a Zero Waste event, and developing a way to recognize smaller events who can’t afford formal certification for their hard work.

So while there may not be any events at present, things are happening! Stay tuned to this website for updates.

Getting On and Taking Advantage

A warm welcome to the readers of RunBikeThrow, my blog, and Happy Planet Running, my Zero Waste business website. I hope you are well and staying safe through all this.

The RBT family – me, my wife Joyce, and my daughters and their partners, and my siblings and their families, are all fine and doing their best to get on with the business of life while taking the appropriate precautions. I’m fortunate that while Happy Planet Running is on hold with the event companies, I have important work to do at my office job, as does my wife at her job, and we are both able to work from home.

It’s been a strange couple of weeks, as normally at this time I’m very busy with March races, or planning the April ones, in addition to everything else that goes with an active professional life. It feels odd to wake up in the morning with nowhere to go, no people to meet, no group runs, and no events to support.

And I’m not alone here. Last weekend I was talking with the race director of a local 5K that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. “Normally at this time my phone would be ringing constantly with people mad at me about something,” he told me. “You know, I miss the stress.” As do I, to a point.

And yet, haven’t all of us busy people secretly (or not) wished for a break from so many responsibilities? To have time with our spouses and kids? To cook more at home? To finally finish that side project, or work on our Great American Novels? I sure have. And here it is.

So we’ve been taking advantage of this enforced isolation. We are cooking more. We’re going on walks together. I’m finally able to organize my business stuff, and clean out some closets. And yes, I am actually working on a novel. One I started years ago and finally decided it was time to get done.

The world we live in right this moment wouldn’t support the story I’m telling, but dammit, we’ll get through this, and although our world may be transformed in ways we don’t fully grasp yet, I have faith that people will be able to gather again, and celebrate together, and do all those things we 21st century people do.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be a little more compassionate toward each other, appreciate our common ground and respect our differences, and better understand how precious is every human life.

My best wishes to you all, and I hope to see you at the races someday soon!

Jeff

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”

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!

Recyclable Cups? A New Hope

Runners love their coffee, and during races they need water and other hydration drinks. The most popular method for delivering the drinks continues to be paper cups. And why not? They’re inexpensive, lightweight, and do their job well. And they’re often provided free to races by sponsors such as Absopure.

But the standard cup is lined with polyethylene (PE) – a plastic – to seal the seams and waterproof the paper. The lining makes the cup difficult to recycle. At paper mills that aren’t set up to screen out PE, it can gum up the machinery. Entire bales of paper containing cups could be rejected and end up in a landfill or incinerator. And that’s a shame, because the paper itself is high-quality pulp that is very useful when recycled.

Continue reading “Recyclable Cups? A New Hope”

Can You Recycle Race Bibs? Yes! (Updated)

UPDATE March 2020: It appears that DuPont no longer supports recycling of Tyvek race bibs. At this time the only race bib recycling option I can find is to use a Sporting Goods Zero Waste Box from TerraCycle. You can find it on their website at this link. They are also sold through some third-party sites which you can find with an Internet search.

I will post further updates as I find out more, since I remain committed to recycling as much race waste as possible.

Jeff Jackson, Happy Planet Running

================ Original post below===============

Good news from the Zero Waste Running department: one more thing that has been going to the landfill at our events turns out to be recyclable!

I’m talking about a particular item familiar to people who run races of all distances. (See the featured photo if you need a hint.) Read on to find out how to recycle them!

Continue reading “Can You Recycle Race Bibs? Yes! (Updated)”

How to Make a Zero Waste Team Deliriously Happy

Hooray for runners! Not only are they cool people, they care about the environment. Every runner I know supports Zero Waste, and we’ve received many, many thank-yous and compliments from race participants.

And yet they do some things that make a Zero Waste effort more difficult. I know it’s not intentional; it’s more a lack of understanding how labor-intensive the process is.

A runner’s involvement with trash ends when it’s put in the bin or tent, but the Zero Waste team has to ensure it all goes in the right place. Final sort consumes a lot of time just when we’re trying to pack up and leave. Every saved minute helps!

Here are a few things all runners can do to help an event’s sustainability team. Trust me, we’ll love you all the more for doing them!

Continue reading “How to Make a Zero Waste Team Deliriously Happy”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑