ANN ARBOR, MI – Attendees at the upcoming Kapnick Firecracker 5K might notice the absence of something normally ubiquitous: Trash.
The July 4th event is one of many hosted by Happy Planet Running, a company that aims to help running businesses reduce the amount of waste they produce.
While big races, like the Boston Marathon, can afford to promote recycling, small events “can’t afford that kind of effort,” said Jeff Jackson, owner of Happy Planet Running.
“I was so sick of seeing all of these perfectly collectable things going in the dumpster,” said Jackson, who started running around 2006. He started Happy Planet Running in 2016.
Epic Races runs the Kapnick Firecracker 5K, and CEO Eva Solomon said she wants the company to be environmentally friendly, but struggles to achieve it. At first, Epic Races set up three different containers – one for bottles, one for paper, and one for landfill waste.
“And at the end of the race, all three cans looked the same,” Solomon said.
Jackson started with Epic Races on a volunteer basis before founding Happy Planet Running and charging for his expertise. By switching to more environmentally friendly materials and guiding runners on how to properly dispose of waste, races will routinely divert more than 90% of waste from landfills, Jackson said.
Although Happy Planet Running has used several techniques to encourage runners to properly dispose of their waste, the company’s latest method is for runners to put their waste in a trash can, which is then sorted to its appropriate final location. by volunteers.
Compost makes up about a third of the waste diverted from shopping, Jackson said, with traditional recycling such as cardboard and metal accounting for 50 to 60 percent. About 10% are materials that require special forms of recycling, such as plastic wrap or snack bag packaging. For these, Jackson works with a company called Terracycle.
“All I have to do is pick them up and pack them up,” he said.
Common waste at racing events includes bibs, snack wrappers, water bottles, and waxed paper cups. Cups are one of the most difficult things to replace with sustainable options, as many races get them for free from sponsors, Jackson said.
Happy Planet Running diverted over 97% of the waste from the landfill during events such as the Goddess 5K and the Tri Goddess Tri, hosted by Epic Races. Just over two pounds was non-recyclable and non-compostable waste – consisting mostly of duct tape, foil, ice cream wrappers and stickers – according to one report published by Happy Planet Running.
Having about two pounds of landfill trash is common for errands that work with Jackson, Solomon said. Other breeds only produced a pound of waste, while others climbed to 11 pounds, but still with a 90% diversion rate. the Flirt with dirt The run in early June produced just 0.3 pounds of waste destined for landfills.
Such low amounts of trash are a big improvement over before, Solomon said, assuming his runs produced “at least” 40 pounds of landfill trash.
“A ridiculous amount,” Solomon said. “Just bags and trash bags.”
Jackson said he also leads a sustainable lifestyle in his personal life and recently discontinued his trash service, having reduced his trash to just one bag per month. He said the concept of living with little waste is new.
“We live in a way that allows us to waste as little as possible,” he said. “Everything has another life after we use it. “
Although he tries to move shopping away from addiction to recycling products and towards more sustainable options, such as using wooden medals or silicone cups, Jackson said he’s not getting ” always a yes ”. Implementing “reduce” and “reuse” rather than “recycle” is an important habit, he said.
“The first two have yet to receive the attention they deserve,” he said. ” It changes. “
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