Despite a chilly rain, the downtown Ann Arbor Turkey Trot 5K and kids run took place on schedule, with a good crowd on hand. And despite the conditions, the Zero Waste Team had its best Turkey Trot to date, with less than one pound of landfill!
A chilly fall morning, with the promise of fires, live music, food, and beer later on? Sounds like a perfect setup for a trail run. And so it was, with 750 athletes traversing various distances on the DTE Energy Foundation trail system near Chelsea. Naturally, we had to make sure it was all environmentally friendly, and boy did we succeed, getting as close to Zero Waste as about possible.
April 17-18, 2021 – Portage Lake Recreation Area
A gorgeous weekend for a gravel bike race. So nice, it went both days instead of just Saturday. Perhaps a certain park capacity limit due to a certain lingering ‘situation’ contributed to that, but I didn’t see anyone complaining.
The Epic Races Zero Waste effort picked right up where it left off, recycling or composting just about all of the event-generated waste. It would have been nearly zero except for a couple of boxes wrapped heavily in packing tape due to their weight.
We set up a single station near the bike racks.
In addition to recycling and composting, our “Free Stuff” box (see the corner) resulted in some castoff clothing and water bottles from previous races getting new homes.
There were a few procedural changes. There were no formal post-race parties. Instead, bags of snacks were created for each rider and placed by their station for pickup after they finished. So overall waste was down significantly, as most people left with their treats, but there was enough waste to make it worth the effort. And a Bearclaw Coffee truck was there as usual, and a hot dog stand on Saturday.
Results below. A good start to what will hopefully be a good year!
The Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, a half-marathon put on by the Ann Arbor Track Club (AATC), has been held annually since 1974 and draws thousands of runners each year. As with any event that size, it generates a lot of waste.
In 2018 AATC approved a Zero Waste initiative for the race, and landfill waste was cut from several thousand pounds to just 28, and just 23 pounds in 2019. Happy Planet Running was proud to be a part of this effort. In its newsletter, the “Rundown” the club recently recognized and applauded the program. See the excerpt below. Great stuff!
The women came to Belle Isle to celebrate their strength and run in the beautiful park. A little bit of inclement weather didn’t dampen their enthusiasm! And the Green Team was there to make sure we left the park cleaner than we found it, with as little as possible going to landfill. After the heat and yellow jacket invasion of last year, did we have the fortitude to get it done? Bee-lieve it!
“How are things going, Jeff?” someone asked me during this year’s Firecracker 5K.
“Really well,” I replied. “In fact, it’s going so well I’m worried!”
I was only half joking. I’ve worked too many events that seem to be going well, only to be hit with some hidden unpleasant surprise (for instance, volunteers filling up the Starbucks recycling bins with food waste). But all went smoothly, even though we had to clear out quickly for the 4th of July downtown parade. Read on for how we dealt with it!
A fun little trail race that also shows no matter how small the event, you can make it sustainable and cost effective!
All right, I’m just going to come out and say it right here.
I failed my first cupless race.
Yes, me. Mister Zero Waste, owner of an event sustainability company and decrier of our current throwaway society. Here I will confess all, so you can learn from my sad experience and avoid similar shame.
A number of cities around the world – at least 25, according to National Geographic – are pursuing Zero Waste as a city-wide initiative. Of the 94 major cities in the C40 Cities organization, 23 have signed a commitment that includes the following goals by the year 2030:
- Cut the amount of waste generated by each citizen by 15%
- Reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incineration by 50%
- Increase the landfill diversion rate to 70%
It sounds great. But how much can reasonably be achieved?
In this post I highlight a couple of cities that have already made major strides in this direction – and one that is struggling with the basics.