Tag Archives: recycling

Pre-Ann Arbor Marathon Cleanup Plog!

The Ann Arbor Marathon is Sunday, March 24, and I’ll again be serving as Zero Waste Team captain. Since 2017, when we began the zero waste program at the marathon, we’ve recycled or composted over 97 percent of all race waste!

2018: Less than four pounds of trash, and over 99 percent landfill diversion!

This year we’ll make it an even more environmentally responsible event by doing some cleanup before the race. And if you’re a runner in the area, you could help!

This is an event Ann Arborites, especially runners, should be proud of. It’s an official qualifying race for the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon, and the course runs through some captivating scenery including central campus, Nichols Arboretum, and a long stretch along the Huron River in Gallup Park.

The inaugural Ann Arbor Marathon, June 2012.

Unfortunately, the melting of the winter snow has revealed litter strewn along the roads – an embarrassing amount in some places. This afternoon I ran a loop of the course and observed discarded bottles, cans, paper cups, and even twelve hubcaps. Hardly stuff we want our runners to see, especially those visiting our fair city to be part of a healthy outdoor event!

So this Saturday we’re holding the first ever Ann Arbor Plog-athon!

Glad you asked! “Plog” is the nickname given to an increasingly popular activity of picking up roadside trash during a run. And on Saturday, March 23, some dedicated runners will be out on the marathon course, taking that litter off the streets and putting it where it belongs. And with Zero Waste principles in mind, we’ll recycle or compost as much of it as possible.

Readers, are any of you coming to Ann Arbor to run that weekend? Or do you live in Ann Arbor and want to help make the course condition something we can be proud of? Join us! Details are on the Happy Planet Running page on Facebook. Or email me, and I’ll forward you everything you need to know.

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Vote for Me! Vote for a Fit America!

I’m not running for President, but I have an agenda. One that the leading two candidates haven’t said a peep about, to my knowledge. This is an outrage. Why aren’t people talking about the issues that really count for something?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure any President would have the ability to implement the platform I describe below, despite its undoubted value. I’m thinking there would have to be a Supreme Overlord or the like to get it done. I humbly submit myself to take on this daunting task. I promise to be firm, yet benevolent.

I’m calling my campaign: “Make America Fit Again.”

uncle-sam-with-kettlebell

Here’s how I get this country into shape, physically, economically, and emotionally.

1. More “honest” calorie counts and fat/sugar totals on snack food packages. Oh, the makers of the scrumptious-looking muffins below may be telling the truth on the labels, but look closely – one muffin is two servings. Who eats half a muffin?

muffins

single-muffin-nutrition-information

2.  Corporate CEOs who enable unethical behavior to boost profits and rake in huge bonuses would be prosecuted and serve their time as stockers at Wal-Mart. Tote that cart! Lift that box! We’ll sweat out that sense of entitlement!

3 . Wide paved shoulders required on all paved roads, or a paved bike/multipurpose path alongside them. The streets should be safe for walkers, cyclists, and anyone else who prefers self-powered means of transportation.

4.  Mandatory martial arts or yoga & meditation classes for all school-age children, starting at age five. Imagine an entire generation with self-discipline, introspection, respect for everyone, and physical fitness. Who’d be left to start the wars?

aikido-youth-class

5.  When a politician says something untrue during a debate, speech, or public appearance, a whistle goes off and they have to do 30 burpees before they can continue.

They'd be the two fittest people on the planet!

They’d be the two fittest people on the planet!

6 . “Diets” would be outlawed. As would “fat burning” supplements and all so-called weight loss miracles. Waste of money at best, dangerous at worst.

7.  Recycling and composting services throughout the country. And a nationwide 25-cent deposit law for all glass and aluminum containers. Stop throwing perfectly recyclable soda and beer cans in the trash – or, for Pete’s sake, on the ground.

beer-cans-in-river-mysanantonio-blog

From the “My San Antonio” blog.

8.  Minimum environmental sustainability taxes for individuals and corporations. Clean air, water, and land benefits everyone, and is worth the cost. What kind of planet do you want to leave your grandkids?

And just to round things off, two morality rules to piss off liberals and conservatives alike:

9.  When two people meet for the first time in the day, the first words out of their mouths must be something kind about the other person. After that, they can fight. If they still want to.

10.  When someone identifies a race, society, or religion and says, “they are the problem,” he or she has to live among “them” for a year.

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Do you agree with my platform? Would it result in a fitter America? Let me know your thoughts. I may be seeking absolute power over everyone and everything, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open-minded. We can agree to disagree!

The only thing I haven’t worked out quite yet is how to become Supreme Overlord. I am a big fan of our Constitution, after all. I just wish more of our current politicians were, too.

Fail at Hightail, and This Must Be Love

What one thing did I do last Friday night that caused these reactions? See if you can guess.

Race director: “Oh, shit.”

Wife: “Do you want some company?”

Daughter: “Oh, Daaaaad!!!”

Daughter’s fiancee: “Do you have any pictures?”

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Give up? Here’s a hint: For the next week or so, y’all can just call me Lefty.

Yes, I managed to do quite a number on myself at the Hightail to Ale 5K in Detroit Friday night. And I hadn’t even had a beer.

The Hightail to Ale is an RF Events race near the Atwater Brewery in Detroit. It’s been described as a beer party with a 5K thrown in. And if you ever wanted proof that “free beer” is a guaranteed draw, check out this photo of just one wave of the runners who showed up.

Hightail 2016 - Wave Start

I was serving as captain of the Zero Waste team, our new initiative for diverting as much waste as possible away from the landfill. I had a particular motivation for doing ZW at this event; last year the few recycle stations had overflowed and I wound up dragging many bags filled with cans and bottles to the trash dumpster.

Last year - good try, but too few and unmanned.

Last year – good try, but too few and unmanned.

That turned out to be of my motivations for starting the ZW program, so we’d come full circle. Now we had ten Zero Hero tents and a staff of volunteers to change the bags out, sort them, and make sure all the recyclables got recycled.

This year: more stations, checked regularly.

This year: more stations, checked regularly.

Along with the free can of beer at the finish (for those of legal age), Atwater was also selling beer like – well, like cold beer on a warm night – and our Zero Hero tents were soon filling up with empties. We stacked the full bags near the dumpster for final sort and weighing before tossing them in.

Final sort before tossing in the dumpster.

Final sort. Note the dumpster is over the fence; this would have serious unintended consequences. (Although added stupidity was needed.)

As the party began to wind down, I observed that some bags of recyclables were being tossed into the dumpster before they were weighed. I walked around the block to access the dumpster (on the other side of this fence) and climbed in to get an estimate of how much was in there.

Seeing that unclosed bags had spilled cans and bottles all over, I decided to forego trying to weigh it. We’d rely on the report from our hauler instead. That wise decision having been made, I made up for it with a bad one.

The main area was just over the chain-link fence. It would be so much quicker to just jump over that fence instead of walking around the block again! The temptation was too much. I put one hand on the top fence rail to steady myself, and kicked myself over.

Sure, anyone could jump that fence from the dumpster. Right?

Sure, anyone could jump that fence from the dumpster. Right?

As I landed on the other side I knew something really bad had happened. My right wrist had caught on the open wire at the top of the fence, and I had a deep gash in it several inches long and bleeding profusely. I clamped my other hand hard over it and walked to the volunteer area. The first-aid truck had just left, of course, so someone called 911.

By the time the ambulance arrived the bleeding had nearly stopped but they confirmed I’d need stitches. I opted for U-M Hospital in Ann Arbor instead of a Detroit hospital, and the race director, after his initial reaction, drove me there. I arrived at 10 p.m. and got through initial triage fairly quickly. However, all the residents were tied up with major trauma cases so I wound up sitting on a hallway gurney most of the night waiting “to get picked up” (hey, that’s the official term).

My wife texted me several times while I waited, wondering if I’d like some company. Finally it got into my thick head that she actually wanted to get out of her warm bed in the middle of the night to sit with her wounded mate. She arrived around 1:30. I was finally stitched up (13 total) and released at 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

And that’s how we spent the first few hours of our 33rd anniversary.

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Followup: I am mending well, and while I cancelled my gym sessions for the week, I’m running and cycling to prep for the Glacier Ridge Trail 50 this weekend.

I also owe another shout-out to the Zero Waste crew and the other Hightail volunteers who made sure the tents all got packed up and the remaining waste put where it belonged. You rock, everybody!

And finally: My wife told our daughter in Richmond what had happened during a phone call on Sunday. Her reaction was predictable. Her fiancee, a medical technician, was the one who asked for photos (professional interest). Whether I sent her any or not I won’t divulge here. But I won’t subject my readers to any. (You’re welcome.)

Zero Waste: Adding 3 More “Rs” to Running

Some of my faithful readers know that I have a strong interest in sustainable practices. For those of you who didn’t – well, I have this strong interest in sustainable practices.

Reduce Reuse RecycleThat means, basically, that I support and encourage the three “Rs” of managing waste. I’m also firmly in favor of renewable energy sources and organic farming. This was once considered fringe, “hippie” stuff, but it’s rapidly becoming mainstream, and hopefully will be standard practice before long.

So I’m thrilled to tell you that this year I’m helping bring sustainable practices to another activity that I love – the world of running.

I run, pace, and/or volunteer at over twenty events every year, and it bothers me how much waste they generate and send to landfills. That includes a lot of recyclable cans, bottles, and cardboard, and food waste (banana peels, half-eaten muffins, etc.)  that could be composted.

Trash from a small event last year. All of it went to the landfill.

Trash from a small event last year. All of it went to the landfill.

I figured there had to be a better way, and in my research I came across the Council for Responsible Sport and their certification program that recognizes waste reduction and redirection.

Gazelle Girl 2015 - 3,000 runners, and this is all that went to the landfill.

Gazelle Girl 2015 – 3,000 runners, and this is all that went to the landfill.

After volunteering at an annual women’s race in Grand Rapids that applies the CRS standards to achieve nearly zero waste (read my 2015 post about that here), I knew I wanted to bring what they did to the Ann Arbor area. So I approached my favorite running events company, showed them what was possible, and made my pitch to help them do the same.

To what may be their everlasting regret, they accepted. And so RF Events “Team ZW” was formed.

Saturday's ZW crew - ready to rock that trash! Yours truly on far right.

Saturday’s ZW crew – ready to rock that trash! Yours truly on far right.

To get things going, we obtained a small grant from the Can’d Aid Foundation’s #CrushitCrusade, and used it to obtain training and waste disposal tents from ZeroHero, a company that specializes in sustainable waste management for events all over the country. We scheduled Trail Marathon Weekend, April 23-24, as our inaugural Zero Waste event. We recruited volunteers, deployed the tents, and hoped for the best.

Stylin' it on the trail!

Stylin’ it on the trail!

The results were better than I could have hoped for. Of the nearly 500 pounds of total waste we collected over the weekend, less than 50 went to the landfill. Everything else was recycled, composted, or will be sent to TerraCycle for “upcycling” into new plastic products. And we got several positive comments from the runners. “Those are the coolest tents EVER!” I heard one of them say. (Oh, wait, that was me. But I’m sure many other runners were thinking it.)

So if you’re going to a Running Fit race this year, look for the green shirts and the coolest tents ever, and know that we’re doing our best to make the sport we love better than ever!

Below are more ZW photos from Trail Marathon. Enjoy!

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