Friday, April 5, 2013

Modern Life is Rubbish

My two bug bears with litter are cigarette butts and runners littering. Both of these instances seem 'acceptable' by the litterer because either everyone does it (former) or someone will clean up after me (later).

My building in Portland ( is a non smoking, pet and environmentally friendly building up towards PSU in Downtown. The no smoking rule SHOULD extend to 10 feet from the building, but the main entrance almost always has butts on the floor. How is this acceptable? It is littering just the same as throwing sweet wrappers on the floor.

Last weekend was what is now the biggest event in South African road running, the Two Oceans marathon (there is a 56km, 21km, and two trail runs) with over 30,000 participants. The ultra goes over Chapman's Peak, an iconic Cape Town location. The wind blows in Cape Town, always has. The problem is water is given out at more than 20 aid stations on route, in plastic sachets and bottles. 100,000's of them. The clean-up after the race seems to only concentrate what is actually on the road! Hows does that work?

So you have this sight. Not a great advert for Cape Town, this stunning stretch of coastline or the race itself. Is it the runners who are the problem or the packaging? Why does South Africa (uniquely?) use plastic sachets that blow away easily in the wind? Plastic cups aren't much better. A few races are trying to address the issue of litter and at the same time use of resources. The recent Chuckanut 50k in Bellingham gave a reusable plastic pouch to all runners which they could fill at each aid station. 

A much better idea. No-one was complaining about having to wait to fill up. Maybe 11,000 road runners would make this unworkable? But whats unworkable in a 56km ultra. Having to stop for 10 seconds or so to fill up your pouch. You'd have the same number of volunteers with jerry cans instead of handing out cups. Runners wouldn't be able to litter, race organisers would save money and the environment and wouldn't run the risk of having a race being sanctioned for not clearing up. Surely a win. win for everyone concerned.

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