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A Perfect Day for an Invasion! Martian Races 2019 Sustainability Report

What a difference a year makes! From the freezing rain in 2018 to a cool, sunny day in 2019, conditions were much improved for both the runners and the people working the race.

The Zero Waste team also benefited from the great weather and more experienced help. While last year the sorting had to be cut short and a lot of bags were sent to trash, this year we were able to process all the waste and drop the landfill portion to below ten pounds! Read on to see how we did it, and the few challenges we faced.

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Single-Use Coffee Pods Just Got Less Evil

A few years ago, I was waiting in line at a Whole Foods coffee bar. A woman asked the barista, “What do you recommend for a Keurig?”

The resulting pause was too long; I couldn’t resist.

“A sledgehammer,” I piped up. (*)

gallagher sledge o matic
Sledge-o-Matic could save the world from bad coffee!

Snarky advice and fantasies aside, I do not encourage the wanton destruction of single-serve machines. However, I have long been disgusted with the amount of waste generated by their disposable capsules. They encase perfectly compostable coffee grounds in a plastic pod. The unit is non-recyclable due to the organic waste inside, and even if cleaned, is too small to be accepted by many recyclers. So they go to a landfill, where the coffee grounds decompose into greenhouse gases, and the plastic just sits there forever.

How many pods are discarded each year? According to the New York Times, in 2015 Keurig alone sold over nine billion single-serve capsules. That’s over 24 million used per day. How many are recycled? Very few.

As a coffee snob myself, I’d be the last person to advise you to give up the habit. (And my fellow runners would laugh in my face.) But I sure as heck would prefer my fellow caffeine addicts indulge in a sustainable manner. Here are some ways to do just that.

Continue reading “Single-Use Coffee Pods Just Got Less Evil”

Recycling Roundup, Week of Feb. 18, 2019: Focus on Reduction

What’s a much better way to deal with single use plastics than recycling them? Not using them in the first place.

It’s no secret that the world is swimming in plastic waste. In some cases, literally. And a good deal of that plastic was designed for single use. Plastic water and soda bottles, straws, utensils, and carryout packaging are manufactured, used, and then discarded, ending their usefulness and value to society.

According to the EPA, in 2015 the U.S. produced 34.5 million tons of plastics, with 3.1 million tons (9%) recycled. Landfills received 26 million tons. And it’s estimated that worldwide, between 5 million and 12 million tons of plastic waste per year end up in the ocean.

How much better to replace single-use plastics with reusable materials, or – even better – find ways to eliminate them! Here are three examples of communities, and even entire states, taking progressive action to reduce or eliminate certain single-use plastics. Read the full story by clicking on the links.

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And It’s Good! Super 5K 2019 Sustainability Report

This year’s Super 5K had decent weather and a good turnout, with football regalia all about, and a visit by the Detroit Lions mascot. The Zero Waste effort scored big overall, but had several annoying fumbles by the runners. I think we had more pint glasses broken than points scored in the Super Bowl!

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“Yeti ‘nother” Great Result! Bigfoot Snowshoe Race 2019 Sustainability Report

Welcome to the Bigfoot Snowshoe race, where the temperature – and the trash – were both close to zero this year!

You know a Zero Waste effort is going well when you have less than one pound of trash but still want to do better. And then we found a way to reduce it to nearly nothing! Read on to find out how, and see the end of this report for a bonus.

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2018 Dexter-Ann Arbor Run Sustainability Report

An iconic running event in the Ann Arbor area gets a big boost to its Zero Waste efforts. With several thousand runners, thousands of discarded cups, and nearly 2,000 pounds of total event waste, how did they achieve over 98 percent landfill diversion and leave their trash dumpsters nearly empty? Read on to find out!

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Empowering Sustainability! Girls on the Run SE Michigan Sustainability Report

An organization dedicated to empowering girls and encouraging them to run decides to go Zero Waste for its annual 5K events. Happy Planet Running and Zero Waste Washtenaw were happy to step up to help. How well did we succeed, given some nasty weather and so many runners? Really well! See below.

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Great and Getting Better: Trail Marathon Weekend 2018 Sustainability Report

Despite lousy weather in 2017, Zero Waste at Trail Marathon Weekend improved significantly from 2016, cutting landfill waste in half and improving diversion from 90 percent to 95 percent. Could we improve even more on this in 2018?

We did indeed! Read on to find out how we did it.

Continue reading “Great and Getting Better: Trail Marathon Weekend 2018 Sustainability Report”

Could You Cover Your Glass, Please? Super 5K Sustainability Report

A snowy Sunday morning in Michigan, but over 1,000 runners came out to get in a 5K before the Big Game. And all of them would want to grab hot dogs, cookies, pint glasses and awards, and be on their way soon afterward. In past years the rush has been very challenging for the Zero Waste team. Could we keep up this year, and improve on last year’s 93 percent diversion? We were going to find out!

Continue reading “Could You Cover Your Glass, Please? Super 5K Sustainability Report”

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