In 2014, six marathons—Boston, Chicago, London, New York City, Paris, and Tokyo—each had more than 31,000 finishers. With that comes throngs of volunteers, spectators… and waste, which makes planning a socially responsible race something every race director needs to aim for. Here are 10 steps to take when planning an environmentally-friendly race.
- Online Registration – Going paperless saves money and time, plus allows for easy donation options, surveys, and automated confirmation emails.
- Virtual Race Bags – Many largest races in the U.S. are ‘handing’ out virtual goodie bags, which lets you create and manage digital content as needed.
- Collect Donations – If the race is for a water-related charity, have volunteers available near the water stations at the beginning or end of the race.
- Shirts with a Purpose – Look for race shirts made from recycled plastic bottles or locally-grown cotton. Anything with a cool backstory.
- Easy Recycling – Have composting and recycling bins available and clearly marked during your event. Check out the Council for Responsible Sport’s certification program, which helps and rewards races for their environmental commitment.
- Smart Food Choices – Support local farmers, buy in bulk to reduce packaging, and choose fair trade products.
- Say Goodbye to Cups – Races like The Bank of America Chicago Marathon are opting for compostable cups and banning Styrofoam.
- Borrow or Rent – From mile marker signs to tables and tents, borrowing or renting items is a great way to reduce costs, plus you don’t have to worry about storing them later!
- Offer Alternative Transportation – Reduce the carbon footprint by providing participants with free shuttles or discounted fares for mass transit on race day.
- Pay it Forward – After the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, over 19,000 pounds of food were donated to City Harvest to help fight hunger in New York City.
Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun
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