How to Race Green: Green Events

Portland Triathlon
Aid stations at events tend to look like small garbage dumps. Although they get cleaned up, the image of paper cups and energy bar wrappers littering the ground is evidence that our activities have an impact--and it's making more race directors and participants wonder what they can do to make races a little more eco-friendly.

As part of its go green initiative, created a "green events" category for listings. If an event meets all of the pre-determined requirements for being green, it will be tagged as such in the directory and will carry the Actively Green logo.

More10 Green Races in North America

How Do You Qualify?

According to, "every 1000 entry forms printed is equal to a 37-pound carbon dioxide footprint in our atmosphere."  To that end, 95 percent of your event registrations must be completed online; downloadable entry forms may not be an option on the race website and the race cannot mail out any paper registration forms.

In addition to online registration, there must be on-site recycling bins and the race has to offer public transportation, carpooling or ride share opportunities.

Events must also adhere to three out of 21 other green initiatives. The list includes:

  • Event T-shirts are made from organic cotton
  • Race hosts a clothing and shoe drive to recycle old running shoes and donate athletic clothing to charity organizations
  • All paper products at the event are made from post consumer recycled paper
  • Race bags are made from recycled material or they are reusable bags
  • There are no plastic water bottles at the event
  • Utensils and plates are biodegradable
  • Toilet paper, paper towels and soap are biodegradable
  • Food and beverages are organic and/or natural
  • All participant communication is via email or website instead of paper mail
  • Signage is reusable or recycled
  • Banners are biodegradable
  • Signage is printed on eco-friendly paper with non-petroleum based ink
  • Power used at the event and expo is generated by solar energy
  • Event uses bike police and pace bikes instead of cars
  • Shuttle buses run on biodesel
  • The lead vehicle is a hybrid
  • Environmental education is a part of the race
  • Medals are made from sustainable materials
  • The event offers composting
  • There is a prize for the "greenest" athlete in the race
  • The event purchases a renewable energy credit from a green energy company such as Native Energy or the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Each credit represents an investment in 100 percent clean, renewable energy that offsets the global warming pollution produced by the event.

There will always be messy aid stations, but with a little effort, maybe someday all those paper cups littering the ground will be biodegradable.

MorePractice Green Running

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About the Author

Michelle Valenti

Michelle Valenti is the triathlon and swimming editor for Her favorite part of training is getting active with family and friends.
Michelle Valenti is the triathlon and swimming editor for Her favorite part of training is getting active with family and friends.

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