Singapore Marathon: Bin It Right

Singapore Marathon: Bin It Right

Mission: To ensure runners binned their rubbish at the event village at the start, remind runners to bin their rubbish during the run and then to educate them about binning their rubbish in the right bin at the end.


We asked groups to visualise participants placing their rubbish in the bin and we spent 3 days raising the awareness about the danger of litter at running events.  We estimated we had reached out to about 5,000 participants at the expo. The day had arrived to see if our campaign had any impact on participants and their actions during the event.

Day 1 was the 5 and 10km event for 20,000 participants. Day 2 would be the half and full marathon for 30,000 participants.

BUT before that could happen, there were some final tasks to do before runners ran….and soon I would be joined by others who want the same thing – a society that is more responsible for the impact it is making. It is about creating a WE society rather than a ME society, an OUR world rather than a MY world.

One person can only go so far, but many hands together can go even further. This is no longer my initiative, it is an initiative that now has support from a community to make everything possible….

The Reminder

Day 1: Another restless night and I gave up sleep at 2am to be at the event village for a 4am rendezvous with our volunteers. Our Green Ambassadors from Green Nudge were all ready to talk trash and marched around the event village reminding participants / requesting pledges to keep the course litter free for all to enjoy.

The Bin It right crew

RESULT: Once the participants had left to enter the pens, the village was actually clean rather than the typical bottles and cups left on the floor where participants sat!!! Feedback from the cleaning company: 

“Cleanest event village for a run event and we finished cleaning it really fast”

As one participant said:

“….and the message is very strong this year…because if the event village is so clean…who dare not to BIN IT”

Before the Run

Now the entrance to the starting corrals is through a building which meant counteracting the phenomenon of….The Doorway Effect…..that is as you enter/exit a boundary, what ever you were to remember will have been forgotten.

It was important to find a loud voice….the emcee….the one who could reach out to more participants. He was located at the starting point.

Event village is on one side, the corrals are on the other side of the building
Thanks to Runsociety (Maylinda Teo) for the photo

Whilst the Green Ambassadors continued to create awareness in the event village, I slipped through to the starting corrals to speak with the emcee. After some explanation, he delivered a reminder to runners to bin their rubbish during the run so that it respects other runners behind them and to ensure nothing escapes into the environment to keep our waters clean.

With Marine who also wore a Bin It sign on her back to remind runners during the run

I stood by the side of the corrals holding a large Bin It sign, staying until most of the runners had started on their 5-10km journey.

Reducing Landfill Rubbish

We had barely finished setting up when the first participants came through the gated area.

Realising the large screen bins were an attraction to the participants at the exit point, we flanked them with adhoc bins as seen in the pictures below.

RESULT: Feedback from runners from both days:

Local runner at Full Marathon run: It wasn’t totally clean but it was one of the cleanest mass runs I have participated. I will be back next year. (participant had not been to Japan or Taiwan)

Local runner at 10km run: Wow it was really clean and people were putting their rubbish in the bins during the run.

We really wanted you to bin your banana skins separately and one day we hope you will be able to do this during the run at the banana points 🙂

Volunteers who had been involved last year: There was more conscious effort from runners to put their rubbish in the bins

From a Dutch participant at the 10km: It was definitely clean because this is Singapore and everyone puts their rubbish in the bin! Any rubbish on the floor is probably from the foreigners!

From a US participant at the full marathon: It was far cleaner than I have seen for a mass participation event. But isn’t that because in Singapore nobody litters!

One of the screen bins that would normally be full of runners rubbish

The screen bins are usually full with rubbish and the covered bins generally have very little. If the covered bins did have rubbish it would be mixed rubbish. This year we reversed that trend and proved that participants are able to think and process their rubbish responsibly by enabling us to collect over the 2 days:

  • @800kg of banana skins that went to community gardens (about 80% of banana skins collected at the end point)
  • @1000 x 500ml bottles + @500 x 1.5 litre bottles were sent to Playeum – a place for children to create toys out of junk. Unfortunately their store room is limited and we maxed them out.
  • @1000 towels (ice cold towels were given to participants at the end) were rescued and sent to various people wanting the towels for animal shelters or to clean and give to communities.
  • A box of flyers that one of the vendors at the event village was unable to use (very few now like flyers) so gave it to us to repurpose.  We kept it clean to be recycled as paper waste!

13 x 660 litre (blue bin) load of cans and plastic bottles were separated from the banana skins, gooey gel packets and general rubbish, to enable the recycling company to have clean non-contaminated recyclables. 

Was also great to see the drinks company (F&N) implemented our initiative to use reusable water dispensers to reduce the amount of bottles at the end point.

Participants reused their cup or their bottle to fill with drink, reducing the number of cups + disposable bottles at the end. F&N also found they wasted less water!

Great job by Green Nudge for organising the Green Ambassadors and for being the information point for the runners to let them know where to get more water, get their medals engraved, where the toilets were and more!!!

Feedback from the organisers: We had a lot of positive feedback and congratulations about the cleanliness of the event and the reduction of litter on the course which we have NEVER had before.

Next year we hope runners will be even more amazing with keeping fellow runners on track for a cleaner course, and have 90% of banana skins, towels, bottles and cans separated at the end to easily repurpose as well as to help reduce the organiser’s and sponsors’ event throw aways! We also hope to encourage the organisers to create a BYOB initiative so watch this space next year.

Final post on the Full Singapore Marathon and observations of a Tyre Lady’s view of the behaviour of runners during the run…

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