Going Green: A Cause Every Event Should Embrace
It has always bothered me that events like road races and walks often don’t recycle. It’s common to see runners grabbing plastic cups of water and tossing them to the ground. Then volunteers pick them up and put them into large trash bags. Eventually, this trash ends up in a landfill in Anytown, USA. And, the volume of trash that marathons produce is astounding.
I live by the camping and trail-running motto “leave no trace.” I shove empty, sticky gel packs into my running skirt pockets to discard properly post-run and carry my own water whenever possible. So, imagine how happy it made me when I ran the Beach to Beacon 10K (B2B) earlier this month, and discovered that the race offers recycling and composting. After I ate my pre-race banana, volunteers kindly instructed me to put it in the composting box. I thanked them and declared how awesome it is to see them making an effort to keep the race as green as possible. On the B2B web site there is an entire section on greening the race. And the Council for Responsible Sport awarded this race a silver certification. Good job, B2B!
The Big Sur International Marathon is another race that is making great strides in going green. Some of its efforts reduce both waste and cost. Big Sur:
- Recycles bottles, cans, plastic and cardboard; and they have no trash cans at the finish;
- Composts food waste, including utensils, plates, and clear cups;
- Donates leftover food and abandoned clothing;
- Uses biodegradable toilet paper in the porta-potties;
- Offers only paperless registration online; and
- Sends runners a virtual goody bag instead of a traditional goody bag, saving thousands of pieces of paper that usually end up in the trash.
Check out this video of Big Sur’s “Cups to Compost” program. It’s a great example of a successful community effort.
As an event participant, I will do my part and try to support races that are going green. In October, I’m running the Chicago Marathon, another event that has been recognized by the Council for Responsible Sport. The Chicago Marathon’s commitment to sustainability includes offering participant T-shirts made from recycled polyester, as part of Nike’s product line.
As fall event season gets underway, I hope these examples inspire event organizers to take up the worthy cause of going green. No matter the size of an event, start by making smaller efforts like using less paper, offering bottle recycling, or inviting runners to recycle shoes for other good causes. Such efforts will add up to a big difference.