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Run a great race. Leave no trace.

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A “Wonder-ful” Event: Canton Liberty Run 2022 Sustainability Report

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.

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Zero Waste Four Years Running! 2022 Dexter-Ann Arbor Run Sustainability Report

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 [1] 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.

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Ale’s Well That Ends Well! Hightail to Ale 2022 Sustainability Report

Hightail to Ale is one of those iconic examples of the truism, “If you provide beer, they will come.” Held at the Atwater Brewery in Detroit, runners enjoy a 5K along the riverfront, followed by free beer after they finish, along with live music and food from Simply Spanish, Little Caesar’s, and Atwater.

Attendance was down from previous years, but still healthy, and there would be plenty for the Green Team to handle. Along with beer cans, there were snack bags of chips and cookies, water bottles, food waste, plastic wrap from medals, and cardboard from multitudinous boxes.

I set up one station in the parking lot that held the food trucks and the band, and another on the street that served the line for the beer.

Ellen working the station serving the beer line.

So far, so good. But what would an event like this be without a crisis or two?

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She Runs Grand Rapids Sustainability Report

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!

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Abduction Alert! Martian Invasion of Races Sustainability Report

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.

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Ann Arbor Goddess 5K Sustainability Report

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!

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Wearin’ O’ the White: Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K Sustainability Report

Dear St. Patrick: Great job with the snakes and all. Anything you can do about snow?

The Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K took place on a day where, unofficially at least, spring took over. But that was in the afternoon. Race morning was a final blast of winter fury – cold, windy, and snowing. Still, the show went on, and lots of brave, green-wearing souls showed up to run, so the Zero Waste team was there too. Gotta job ta do, laddies!

Zero Waste volunteer Nick holds down the fort. I need a coat like his!

The Zero Waste station was set up in the parking lot near the finish line. With a pretty fierce wind, I did not set up a pavilion, and my tall sign blew over, so the setup was very minimal. No problem, as the runners easily found us when they had something to toss. We also patrolled the 5K starting line on Main Street. Several runners were holding coffee cups, but made no attempt to give them to us. I think this is the first race where I saw people starting still holding their coffee!

Total waste was way down from 2019, the last time this event was held – 38 lbs. total vs. over 100 the other three years measured. Several things contributed: slightly lower attendance, pint glasses and T-shirts being optional instead of included, and the weather conditions, causing many to leave quickly or head inside to Conor O’Neills. Landfill waste was minimal – just some tape and a few ice cream lids. Like previous years, we gave out ice cream (!) to the kids after their 1K run. Most chose, however, to take it back home rather than eat it there.

By afternoon the sun was out and the snow was gone, leading to several warmer days ahead. Nature will have her little joke.

Easy as 3.14159: Pi Day 5K Sustainability Report

For the first time in several years, Epic Races held their “Pi Day” race in person. (Technically two days early, but hey, it’s running plus pie. Sign me up!) Despite cold temps (13 degrees) and wind, about 200 people showed up at Hudson Mills Park to run the 5K or the kids race.

The race was held at the open-air pavilion instead of the activity center, which was hosting another event. So I did not feel the need to police their trash cans. And most people left right after the race, meaning there wouldn’t have been much to capture.

Post-race food was pancakes and hot chocolate. The finisher pies were individually boxed and most people took them home, which meant less waste at the event.

The biggest source of food waste was from the “Pie Division” runners, who had to eat a pie before they ran the 5K – hands-free, of course. Quite a bit of half-eaten pie was left over. In an inspired move, the contestants were given old T-shirts to wipe their faces with instead of disposables. They could either keep the shirts, or return them to be washed and reused.

Continue reading “Easy as 3.14159: Pi Day 5K Sustainability Report”

One Piece at a Time

(Note: This is also posted on my personal blog, RunCoffeeWrite, because, well, because I have the power.)

Went out for a club run yesterday morning, and I had garbage on my mind.

Come on, admit it. You went there.

Perhaps I should say, “litter” instead because, after all, I’m the Zero Waste guy, who reduces, reuses, and recycles (and composts) as much as possible before anything goes into my landfill bin. And I’d just completed five proposals for serving events in the area. So I was well prepped for what happened on said morning run.

Our route took us through one of the local parks along the Huron River. As I entered the park again on my way back, I saw a piece of litter on the path and stopped to pick it up. Then I saw another, and a third. I’d intended only to pick up those few items, but then in one of those “God will provide” moments, I spied a plastic bag caught in a bush.

And so the rest of my run turned into a plog. With no target pace or other training goals to worry about, I made it a game; I’d pick up any piece of litter on the path or sidewalk within a few feet of me, and at the end count how many I had.

It was just over two and a half miles back to the studio, through the park and into downtown Ann Arbor, and during that stretch I picked up…how many items? Have a guess! Here’s a photo to help you. Feel free to do a quick count if you like. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Continue reading “One Piece at a Time”

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