Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tales From the Back of the Pack

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Earth Day Every Day 1

In observance of Earth Day this week, I wanted to write a daily post on habits I've adapted to be kinder to the Earth.

Some years ago I came across intense images that instantly piqued my interest and I clicked on to learn more. The first one was something like this one. Seeing a man rowing through a sea of trash was incredibly sad, but humans suffering because of our own foolishness actually wasn't enough to get me to change my habits.
The next image really did light a fire under my a$$. This picture of an albatross bird that has starved to death with a belly full of plastic was, in my eyes, another thing entirely. Innocent animals suffering through no fault of their own did not sit well with me. And the pictures clearly show the birds have ingested things that I have purchased, used, and tossed away without a thought: Plastic bottle caps, cigarette lighters, toothbrushes, drinking straws.
Then I learned that these albatrosses live no where near "civilization". The albatross above was found on Midway Island. The plastic garbage we're using and tossing every.single.day all throughout the day, was making it's way out to these isolated regions of the ocean. The birds are mistaking the floating colorful garbage for food, eating it and literally starving to death with full bellies. And even worse, feeding it to their young.
After that, I started to see the trash in the albatross' belly all around me. While I've always had no doubt that running is great for the body, I've come to feel that running races is not so good for the earth, and that's a shame. For a sport that supposedly requires nothing to participate in, we sure do leave a huge ecological footprint. 

I don't know what I can do about the empty Gu's, shot block wrappers, and plastic cups that are discarded all over the streets at a race.  
But I can refuse to contribute to it by refusing to accept the garbage that's distributed before and after an event. Say no to the mylar blankets that are used for literally a few moments before their usefulness is expired.
 Carry my own water in a reusable container and avoid the disposable cups.
Use fuel alternatives such as "real food" instead of the goo's and gels that are ubiquitous in the running community. This is actually a non-issue for me in 2016 since this is my Year of the 5K. But for the 2015 LA Marathon I fueled every single training run with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches wrapped in paper and stuffed in my hydration belt. (It was comical how envious everybody was watching me eat my sandwiches while they tried to force down more Gu.)
Say no to the bags of chips and other food cr*p given away at the end of the race. Save your post-race food reward for a great meal in a memorable restaurant instead. 

Do my part to help clean up the beach, where the trash is in direct route to the sea. 
And teach my kid how easy it really is to avoid adding to the mess by bringing our reusable containers when we're out. 
For the rest of the week I'll be posting more of my successes and challenges with reducing our trash in our everyday lives! 


  1. Thank you for this! Your blog make me think of ways to reduce my trash foot print! and those pictures are hunting!

  2. Also, there is a place called Terracycle that takes Gu packs and Cliff bar wrappers and recycles them... I think they make them into bags.

    1. I'm going to talk a bit about my experience with Terracycle this week. :)

  3. Really great post! Thanks for sharing these actionable tips on how to reduce waste at races!

    The pictures of the bird is very jarring, something I will never, ever forget.