A perfect day to run the RF Events Liberty run at Heritage Park in Canton. Runners could choose a 5K, or 10K, or both (the Liberty Slam), and enjoy the rest of the Liberty Festival afterward. And Wonder Woman sang the national anthem!
The Zero Waste station was set up near the finish line, where the post race food – bananas, chips, and cookies – were handed out. Total waste was way down from previous years. Part of that was due to lower attendance, but the adjusted total (waste per 100 runners) is trending down as well. Good stuff there.
This year’s Dexter-Ann Arbor Run was back at its normal date of early June, with increased attendance and a perfect day for running. And for the fourth consecutive year, we achieved over 96 percent landfill diversion, qualifying it per ZWIA  guidelines as a true “Zero Waste” event! (90% Diversion is considered Excellent and 95% is considered World Class.)
Waste streams included:
Cardboard, plastic wrap and water bottles from the finish line;
Disposable cups from the aid stations and food tents;
Food waste and pizza boxes from the food tents;
PPE (disposable gloves and masks), and hundreds of Stinger and Gu wrappers, which all went to TerraCycle along with small plastics and race bibs.
Landfill was mainly tape, medical waste, and vinyl tablecloths used on the food tables. Overall, 1,174.4 lbs. of waste was generated at the start lines, aid stations and finish line / food tent areas. The 21.8 lbs. total landfill is our lowest to date.
As we expected a small number of morning volunteers, we set up just one staffed Zero Waste station on Main St. across from the food pavilion. Like last year, we set out “All Waste” boxes on tables and the Green Team did the sorting.
Summer triathlon season kicked off around here with the Stegosaurus, the first in the T-Rex series of sprint triathlons.
This was about as smooth an event as I’ve been a part of. The weather was perfect, water temperature comfortable, and everything seemed to go well, including the Zero Waste effort, with less than half a pound of landfill. Just one glitch: volunteers were in short supply, as with most events I’ve worked this year, so my wife Joyce came along to help. She held down the main station while I worked the satellite station in the post-race party area.
Total waste at these events has dropped significantly, in part due to pandemic-induced lowered attendance, but also due to less material use. T-shirts are now an optional extra, which reduces cardboard, and the packaging for the medals has been reduced by going local and lighter. In fact, this event’s medals were hand-cut by one of the staff!
Also, post-race food did not include sandwiches or pasta. Instead, athletes got bags of Chex Mix and cookies. I heard no complaints.
About the only dilemma I had is an ongoing one – what to do with the dead inflatable dinos (along with dead inflatable Martians). I’m not counting them as landfill because I’m convinced there’s a recycling solution out there somewhere. I’ll keep you posted.
Here’s a great report from the 2022 She Runs Grand Rapids, produced by Green Team captain Chelsea Brehm. In 2015, this event (known then as the Gazelle Girl) was where I learned what a first-class Zero Waste event was like. Over 3,000 runners, and the landfill didn’t fill a shoe box! That led to me taking the processing back to Ann Arbor, successfully starting a Zero Waste program at many races, and from there to creating Happy Planet Running.
Every year it’s been held since then, I’ve returned as a volunteer as my way of paying back what I’ve learned. And this was one of their best years ever in terms of waste management. Along with increased use of TerraCycle boxes this year, the aid stations used reusable silicone cups from Hiccup Earth instead of disposables.
See below for the results and some great photos. (Chelsea and I are sorting the “rogue trash can” we found on the street leading to the finish line.) Check out her report below!
Hello, Space Force? I’d like to report an alien abduction.
How many? Nobody. I’m pretty sure all the runners at our race last Saturday got home safely. But something is definitely missing. You see, I worked at the race, and I collected nearly five hundred pounds of waste. But at the end, I could account for only seven pounds. Yes, that’s right. Over four hundred pounds of trash is missing, and I think Martians stole it.
The Ann Arbor Goddess returned to downtown Ann Arbor after three years. An event that has raised over $190,000 for women-focused charities, it features a 5K, kids run, and a “Chocolate Mile” with treats supplied by Willy Wonka in person. And Congressional representative Debbie Dingell was handling out medals at the finish line. With all that going on, Epic Races just had to make it sustainable. Don’t make the Goddess angry!
The Super 5K was back on Super Bowl Sunday! Unfortunately, we were unable to secure a formal Zero Waste team, yours truly being out of town and other captains also unavailable. So the RF Events staff stepped up and did its best.
The good news is we recovered 110 pounds of race waste, most of it cardboard from pint glasses and hats and such. There was also about ten pounds each of food waste and compostable containers, and general recycling like water bottles and cups. TerraCycle items – hand warmers, snack bag wrappers, race bibs, and small plastics – contributed a small amount.
No official landfill, as everything that couldn’t be easily recovered was left in the school’s trash cans. So the recovery percentage is effective N/A. Still way better than nothing. We’ll call that a win, even if the Detroit Lions were once again watching from the stands or TV.
The Ann Arbor Marathon was back this year, with a good turnout, and the threatened rain politely held off until the afternoon. Good news for runners, and especially the staff: if you think running in the rain for hours is no fun, just try standing around in it. Either way, the Green Team was there to make sure we’d be environmentally friendly!
Here’s a chance to test your estimation skill. How many syrup packets are soaking in this sink? Answer at the end of the report. I’ll give you a hint – there were 600 registered runners, plus another 100 or so spectators eating breakfast there.