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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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A Green Race Indeed! Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K Sustainability Report

A big, fast race on a cold day downtown, and two volunteers had to manage the entire Zero Waste effort. It would be hard to beat last year’s 96.7 percent landfill diversion with under six pounds of trash. Would they be flying it, or would it be a scundered bollox job? See below!

Continue reading “A Green Race Indeed! Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K Sustainability Report”

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