With over 45,000 participants and 2.5 million spectators, the ING New York City Marathon is one of the most iconic and widely watched sporting events in the world. It is celebrated. It is revered. It also generates a massive amount of waste.
In 2010 the New York City Department of Sanitation reported that it collected 114.29 tons of litter, 6.34 tons of paper and 2.98 tons of metal, glass and plastic after the Marathon. In 2011, race organizers distributed a total of 237,200 free disposable plastic water bottles, and 2,300,000 paper cups were handed out during the race. This is in addition to the thousands of plastic bags, disposable heat shields and other waste generated by the race. In all, the waste generated from free marathon disposables alone could fill seven Olympic-sized swimming pools.
We love the race and espouse its goals and message, yet we would love to see the race become more sustainable by reducing its waste. For inspiration, we need to look no further than a similar marathon held just north of Manhattan with the same race sponsor; the ING Hartford Marathon, which is carbon neutral and has earned the Gold certification from the Council for Responsible Sport. They have initiated many waste reduction steps that could be adopted in New York City.
We are petitioning both ING and the NY Road Runners to reduce the New York City Marathon’s waste in coming years. The NY Road Runner’s mission is “advancing the sport of running, enhancing health and fitness for all, and meeting our community’s needs” and we believe that keeping our environment in mind is essential to meeting those goals. For 2012, 2013, and beyond, let’s create a more sustainable New York City Marathon!
The Waste-less NYC Marathon Project is supported by TrashPatch and the Plastic Pollution Coalition, as well as the Drifter’s Project, 5 Gyres, SafePlanet, and Roz Savage. If your organization would like to support the project and our marathoners by adding your name, logo and network to our cause, please contact us at trashpatch [at] me.com.