My red, white and blue (and green) marathon - A blog by Marc Gunther

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My red, white and blue (and green) marathon - A blog by Marc Gunther

Marc Gunther writes for the Business of Sustainability blog
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My red, white and blue (and green) marathon


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Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - 10:24am


Today was a special day for me. I completed the 34th running of the Marine Corps Marathon, a 26.2-mile run through the streets of Washington and Arlington, Va., with a finish at a famed statue of Iwo Jima known as the Marine Corps War Memorial. I’ve run 17 marathons, but the Marine Corps has a unique place in my heart because it was the first marathon that I ran, back in 1994.

Two things struck me about today’s race. The first is that the MCM made a significant effort to “go green.” Marathons are, inevitably, messy affairs and they generate enormous amounts of trash. An estimated 850,000 (!) paper cups are needed to stock the water and Powerade stops to keep 21,000 runners well hydrated. Add to that 26,000 Clif shots, 25,000 bag of sports beans, 10,000 sliced oranges—well, you get the idea. Lots of garbage, much of it unavoidable.

The MCM says its goal this year was to cut the trash in half, and produce less than a pound of landfill waste per runner. Sponsor Aquafina set up recycling kiosks near the start and finish line. Race waste, including cups, is composted. And, in an experiment, the race bibs given out at a fun run for kids were made of recycled post-consumer and wildflower seeds. The young runners can plant their bibs and enjoy growing Black-Eyed Susans along with the satisfaction of being green. MCM also collected used running shoes at its expos, for donation to people who need them.

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