Tag Archives: No More Trashy Events

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A Step Closer to No More Trashy Events

My vision is to see more effort and responsibility towards the amount of trash outdoor events generate by all parties (organisation, participants and volunteers); from the generation to the disposal and beyond. To see a clean, green attitude as a norm and not as an exception.

Earlier this year, I finally got a bite from the Singapore Marathon. Met with the organisers on the 20th October, who were open and agreed to many of the initiatives. This would mean about a month to make some changes in the way the organisation would normally operate, to the way the volunteers would encourage runners and finally the education the participants and public will receive.

At the same time, if this goes really well, other organisations will want help as they will need to raise their game! So the challenge would be to inspire as many as possible who will want to replicate the initiative in other organisations. To do this, I would need to stay away from Singapore as this would force everyone to be involved. It would also be a personal challenge to organise and build virtual relationships.

Thankfully, whilst in Singapore, this lone wolf found a buddy to collaborate with, in the form of Cuifen, an enthusiastic environmentalist who wanted to be part of the deal. Despite knowing very little about each other, we have complimented each other over and over again with being as upfront and as open as possible. It has been pure bliss to collaborate with someone who has similar goals, who wants to see a social “we” goal rather than a personal egotistical “I” goal and ideas are recognised between the two of us.

She has certainly been a huge resource, meeting various organisations on my behalf, helping me create and develop documentation. I have sat long days for a month behind a computer, tapping away on a keyboard as Singapore is 8 hours ahead of the UK. Between the two of us we have gathered a group of 28 enthusiastic volunteers who also want to see change in the way mass events are organised and allowed to operate.

And everyone has certainly played a role in progressing this forward.

Marinna conceived “Bin It” at the 2XU 50K marathon and we flew with it; Chun Yeow stepped in to make my clumsy logo look amazing; Hangzhong, Wayde, Sharon, and more recently Wai Sen have all taken action to progress the initiatives forward. I feel blessed to have this amazing, enthusiastic team as energy generates more energy.

The Initiatives

We thought that intermingling with runners to educate runners to simply “bin their trash” would help break the mentality of runners who simply follow what other running tossers do. So we got some runners sponsored and other runners came on board with their own registrations to be sign mules, as well as to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) and to be an example to disposing of their running trash in the correct manner. These runners will be spread amongst the pack, having marathon completion times ranging from 2:45 to 6:30, to help remind runners to “Bin It” plus more. After all it is about the social responsibility message that each of these runners will spread to other runners.

GreenAmbassadorRunners

To help us reduce the amount of trash that will go to landfill, the Singapore Marathon organisation will provide recycle bins at the end point (Padang) as well as special bins for banana skins. To help facilitate our request for these bins, we have “Trash Directors” to ensure the public put their trash in the right bins correctly and responsibly. At the Padang, over 50,000 500ml plastic bottles and over 50,000 cans of isotonic will be made available to participants & volunteers. If we can ensure that as much as possible goes into the right bins, Veolia (the cleaning contractors) will recycle all that goes in the recycle bins (plastic bottles and cans). Our volunteers will BYOB to again reduce the amount of trash that is generated from our involvement.

GreenAmbassadorVols

Along the East Coast Park, close to the two banana points, we will have Banana Marshals to separate the banana skin waste from the rest of the trash, so that as much as possible can go towards composting. All banana skins will be sent to community gardens / made into a composting mix.

The Padang and East Coast Park banana points will have approximately, in total close to 50,000 finger bananas provided to the runners. Only one banana point is has been ignored as we could not get enough volunteers to be banana marshals.

To encourage the Singapore Marathon’s volunteers to be proactive and help change the behaviour of “Tossers”, we hope a video will be sufficient for them to view as well as hope they will get involved with us.

At all points the Green Ambassadors will be taking videos and photos to observe behaviour during and after the event to see if the campaign has worked. Finally after the cleaning contractors have been through, more Green Ambassadors will complete a cross check of a section that has in the past had run away trash. I hope they find nothing.

And by doing all of this, we the Green Ambassadors of the Singapore Marathon hope we set a precedent for other mass outdoor events in Singapore.

Thank you to Ironman Asia, who organise this event, for believing in us and allowing us the opportunity to deliver a stronger green initiative for everyone.

https://singaporemarathon.com/towards-green-marathon/

Bring on the 3rd December, the Green Ambassadors are ready! And note this day as a turning point for other outdoor urban events in Singapore and beyond to raise their game.

Other Supporters:

Kampong Sengang: http://kampungsenang.org/

Funatics: https://www.funantics.com.sg/

 

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Undoing Trashy Events and the Battle Against Running Tossers

The streets of London are not lined with gold but lined with 1/2 drunken plastic bottles (London Marathon 2011)

A lady had stopped along the road in my street to talk on her phone. As she did so, she rolled down her window and smoked a cigarette, doing that “typical smokers’ thing” to flick ash out her window and then flick her cigarette butt out the window.
A couple walked by, would have seen what she did and took no notice of the cigarette butt that was now burning on the floor releasing its toxic chemicals. I also happened to have witnessed the event, picked up the cigarette butt and knocked on her window. She wound down her window to allow me to return her “droppings”:
“Excuse me, I believe this is yours. Please don’t litter here. Learn to put it in the bin.”
She looked at me a little embarrassed, apologised and continued to smoke the cigarette butt I had just returned to her. I can only imagine she was waiting for me to continue walking by so that she could flick it back outside. But ahhh that glimmer of guilt the second time round…..
Participants in a running event are like the smoker, acting as if it is normal to drop stuff on the floor, accepting other runners dropping rubbish on the floor. New event participants copy the same thing, even though they didn’t do this in training!
Many marathons are a complete trash festival where we see the ugly sight of plastic bottles, cups, gel packets, bananas, oranges all dropped on the floor.
Most participants expect someone to clean it up for them! So what is the issue?

New York Marathon 2017. Picture from a CNBC article

Health and Safety and the Environment
It is surprising this behaviour has been allowed to happen for so long, when places like the UK have banned children playing games that could hurt themselves (like catch, tag, british bulldogs, conkers).
I’ve watched participants slip/skid on a bottle/cup/banana skin that has been dropped right in front of them.
Additionally there is “run away” trash. Runners’ trash that has been casually tossed into a bush or into a drain, and if it is raining or windy, the trash is washed into a water way that is close by. It is always unfortunate to see the Singapore river has had to participate as a large dumpster when outdoor events like the Singapore marathon has occurred.
…And the Rubbish Has to Go Somewhere
Like in many places, in Singapore, the marathon trash is a mixture of organic and inorganic stuff and will simply go to landfill.

And Now The Change – Battle Hat On!

The Ironman organisation have recently taken over running the Standard Charted Singapore Marathon, and have agreed a change needs to happen with regards to handling trash. They have provided us an opportunity, to see if we (grassroot communities) can encourage responsible runners in the Singapore Marathon. This is an event that will have about 60,000 runners participating in the 10km, 21km and 42km events.
NoMoreTrashyEvents

Singapore Marathon in a previous year

Education

We will subtly and proactively encourage and educate runners to put their trash in a bin to reduce the run away trash that is occurring with:
a) Trash Evangelist amongst the runners in all the events. They will be directing runners to put their trash in the bin and they will be taking photographs of those that do and those that simply drop it on the floor.
There will also be participants wearing a Bin It logo on their running tops to remind runners to bin their trash and additionally will be bringing their own bottle to show you can “have your bottle and run a good time”.
BinIt
If you want to see a clean mass event, please print or draw the Bin It logo, put in a clear bag (like the one your event t-shirt came in) and pin to the back of your shirt.
The marathon organisers have also stated they will be putting out Bin It signs to remind participants.
b) Trash Directors who will be directing runners and spectators at the finish point to separate trash in specific receptacles that the organisers will provide.
Note: There will be MND (Ministry of National Development) volunteers who will also be encouraging runners to “Bin It”

Landfill Reduction

By separating the trash we will be able to repurpose some of that trash. This means some of the plastic bottles can be recycled as they will be separated and the banana skins will be collected and redistributed to community gardens for compost.
So in addition to the end point trash directors we have volunteers who will be Banana Marshals. These volunteers will be at the banana check points along the ECP and separate the banana skins from the bottles from the cups. Perhaps they might play games with the runners to see if they can run and target stuff into the banana bins!

Checking For Run Away Trash

At the same time we will assume there will still be “running tossers” who have not seen the Bin It signs, tossing their trash in any direction. After the organisers’ clean up crew have been through (Veolia), we will be doing a community clean up along a 10km section of the marathon route to see if the “same old run-away runners’ trash” will be there. They will be checking the bushes, sand, and drains especially for the bothersome gel tabs.
This means the organisers can develop an action plan in future years to ensure we “Leave No Trace”
VolSpots
If after reading this, you want to get involved in this inaugural opportunity to change a large mass event, then have a look at this volunteer form and get involved. Click here for the link to the form . If you’re a runner, then please wear the Bin It logo. This event is in Singapore.
We will close the volunteer form on the 16th November 2017.
Am also pleased to announce we have a partnership with Better Trails. This is a company dedicated to keeping the trails in Singapore in their natural state and organise “Clean Ups” of the natural areas around Singapore.
BetterTrails