Treading Lighter – Our Commitment to Improving Sustainability at Great Run Events
Our vision is to maximise the positive impact of mass participation events, leaving lighter footprints and working with our partners and stakeholders to make our events great for people and the planet.
Mass participation sport drives fantastic benefits for the people who take part, their communities and the charities and causes they run for. It’s important to acknowledge that these events also have an environmental impact and that we can do more to minimise that.
At The Great Run Company, we’re aware of our responsibility to continue improving the environmental impact of our events and we’re working towards a comprehensive environmental strategy that is meaningful, impactful and has long-term sustainability at its heart.
We’re excited to be able to highlight new initiatives at our events in 2023, as well as ask for your help to keep things moving in the right direction.
Bring your unwanted shoes (all shoes are accepted, as long as they’re a pair!) with you on race day!
We’ve partnered with Jog On, who are all about keeping running shoes out of landfill. They estimate a whopping 30+ million pairs of shoes are discarded and end up in landfill every year, but many of these shoes have a lot of life left in them. Jog On rescues these shoes before they head to the bin and redistributes them to those who need them most.
We will have a Jog On collection point at all our events this year, so it’s time to dig out those old trainers and give them a new lease of life.
Water bottles are an important item on our sustainability agenda – we’re working with Aqua Pura, our Hydration Partner to ensure discarded plastic bottles are collected and recycled.
The new Aqua Pura bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic and are all 100% recyclable – including the bottle, label and integrated lid. We’ve standardised and reduced the number of drink stations at events, based on research and runner feedback, to reduce waste. If you don’t need water don’t take it, any unused water will be collected and used at another event.
We’re introducing Recycling Hubs within our event villages and “bottle target drops” on the event course, with clearly marked recycling bins. We all need to do our bit – so follow the signs and use the bins as guided.
This year we’ve given runners the choice to opt-out of receiving a finisher’s t-shirt in place of a donation to the National Trust Woodlands Appeal, who are aiming to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030.
We know our runners discard clothing on our start lines as they get ready to start their challenge, so we’ve teamed up with local clothing collection charities including Great Western Air Ambulance in Bristol and the Great North Air Ambulance in Newcastle, to ensure that where possible left-over clothing is re-homed or recycled.
- We’re delighted to be working with Nissan, our Official Automotive Partner, to use their 100% electric vehicle range for all of our lead cars
- Our finisher bag is made from 80% recycled material and is 100% recyclable, so if you don’t have another use for it, please pop it into a recycling bin
- We reuse event branding and signage and keep using it for as long as we can, and our outdated signage is fully recycled
- Any left-over finisher t-shirts are donated to charities in need of clothing, and all left-over medals are recycled
But crucially, we still need your help!
Here are a few simple steps you can follow to help us make a greater impact:
- DRINK, DRAIN, DROP – this is the most effective thing you can do to ensure we can manage plastic waste at events. Once you’ve had what you need it’s really important to drain any leftover water before you drop the bottle into the new, easy-to-spot, “bottle target drops”. It requires extra energy to squeeze out leftover liquid during the recycling process and makes the waste heavier to transport.
- Think about your hydration in the days and hours before you run, think about how much water you take on when training and arrive at the start line hydrated.
- Consider using a running belt, hydration vest, or carry a reusable running water bottle with you along the way to remove the need to use plastic water bottles.
- Use public transport to travel to the start lines, or where using cars consider car-sharing to reduce your impact.
- Dispose of waste responsibly on-site, or at home.
We know we’re not perfect (yet), but there is a huge amount of work going on at Great Run HQ to make continuous improvements to the way we plan and deliver our events. We’re on the journey and we’re striving for better, smarter, more eco-conscious events for everyone.