Triathlons are progressively becoming one of the most popular sport events worldwide. Hundreds of athletes participate in three separate events — swimming, biking, and running— as thousands and even millions of spectators gather to watch them roll into one big race.
What many ignore is that the higher the triathlon’s popularity, the higher is the amount of waste generated at each event.
Empty water bottles, paper cups, race t-shirts and food are left behind, ultimately impacting the environment.
Sadly, it doesn’t end there: pre-race bags filled with plastic, paper and other promotional materials are strewn along the course, and high quantities of fossil fuels are consumed by staging cars, motorcycles, boats, and busses to transport athletes and the general public.
In the last decade, this issue has been studied by race organizers and triathletes, who are raising awareness about the immediate environment.
For example, the Council for Responsible Sport was founded with the specific goal of aiding race organizers “to green” their events in the categories of climate, waste, equipment and materials, community outreach, and health promotion and innovation.
In order to be certified “green”, triathlete have to earn green points on each category and follow several criteria including:
- Food waste composted or donated to local charities
- Reduction of how much waste one participant creates
- Recycling of cardboard, paper, metal, plastic and glass
- Use of alternative fuels to power race vehicles and transport athletes
- Consumption of local foods
Such practices have amazing results as proved by three triathlons in Boulder, Colorado sponsored by “Tri Sustainability” back in 2007.
Tri Sustainability was able to recycle 3,350 gallons of commingled containers (plastic, paper and metal), more than 4,000 pounds of cardboard (which spared 38 trees) and collected 19,649 pounds of compostable material.
Nowadays, environmentally conscious practices keep being employed to organize green triathlons. More and more sport enthusiasts are aware that it is possible to build a sustainable relationship with the environment and triathlons are an important and significant first step.