Greetings, greenies! My good friend and former classmate, El Chupacabra, has been encouraging me to write a guest post for a long time and I have finally caved (read: I stopped being lazy). Plus, this post is going to be about one of her favorite pastimes – running! Well, sort of. We’ll get to that. Since I’m not an official spinach-head though, we’ll just call this…zucchini. YUM.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed how much running and road races have gained in popularity over the last decade or so. Not only has the number of road race finishers increased by 170% since the early 90’s, but you can now run through mud, rainbows, and even away from zombies. So what does this have to do with the environment? Welllll, I did my first triathlon this weekend! (Shameless plug. Ahem)
See, I’m the one in the pink cap!
And wouldn’t you know, the entire event was ZERO WASTE. How cool is that?! Turns out the race directors worked with a company called Evergreen Events that provides bins, compostable products, and consulting services to reduce/eliminate waste from all different kinds of events. It’s part of an initiative to keep Compostable Organics Out of Landfills. So, quite literally, COOL. Those cups of water and Gatorade the volunteers hand out to the runners? Composted. The plates and utensils in the food tent ?(Yes, there was a food tent.) Composted. They even collected the wrappers from energy bars, gels, etc. for either recycling or composting. That’s a lot of could-be trash not getting thrown away, not ending up in a landfill, and not polluting the atmosphere as it decays. I had no idea just how much of a difference it made to compost organic products rather than throw them out (they’re biodegradable, they’ll just decompose in that landfill right?), but check out these stats from the Ohio EPA:
“Up to 90 percent of waste thrown out by supermarkets and restaurants is food scraps. In fact, food scraps are the third largest segment of the waste stream with nearly 26 million tons generated each year. Unfortunately, it is also the least recovered. If the 26 million tons of food scraps generated annually were composted rather than landfilled, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by more than 21.5 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent. This savings is equivalent to the removal of more than 4 million cars from the roadways each year, conserving more than 2 billion gallons of gasoline, or providing annual electricity needs to more than 2.5 million homes!”
So kudos to Boulder, CO, Ironman, and Evergreen Events for creating a waste-free race! And next time you’re running past that last mile marker, downing that half-a-cup of magic electrolyte juice the volunteer just handed you then smashing and throwing it on the ground like the badass you are, think about all that trash and what it can do to the environment and our climate. Then send the race director a suggestion for next time. Tell them to check out Evergreen Events or find a similar service near you. With nearly 14 million people finishing road races each year (and that’s just running!), imagine what an impact converting all that waste to recyclables or compost could do!