Monday, May 9, 2011

Green Ideas for Sweetwater 420 Fest 5K: Candler Park N. O. and Sweetwater Weigh In

Last month, I provided a recap of the Sweetwater 420 Fest 5K with a few ideas for making it a greener event. Well, I heard back from both the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization (which manages the 5K) and from Sweetwater Brewery (which hosts the Fest). Both offered some interesting feedback on my suggestions – enough to warrant a separate blog post.

Here’s what I learned:

No water stations: With an April race date, I questioned whether water stations were really necessary. The weather was mild for this year’s race, but that wasn’t the case in 2010 when temperatures were much warmer. According to Dave Aynes with the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization (CPNO), the group was criticized in 2010 for not having enough water stations. As Dave shared with me, CPNO is interested in ideas to make the race greener. One way runners can do their part is to bring their own water bottles.

Reduce trash - Sell beer in commemorative mugs: When I suggested this idea, I thought it was a “no brainer.” Boy, was I wrong. Per Steve Farace with Sweetwater, “We did that the first year and it turned into a nightmare game of twister trying to refill specific cups.” Understood – trying to keep track of which beer cup belongs to which person when there are dozens of people in line is a logistical mess. Dave with CPNO also mentioned that “some health departments don’t technically allow it (think new buffet plate).”

Offer a compost bin for banana peels: With 2,000 participants at the race, I suggested offering a compost bin to collect the peels instead of trash cans. This appears to be the only idea I offered that may be easy to implement. If you’re running the race next year, be on the look-out for compost bins.

I’d like to thank both Dave Aynes and Steve Farace for sharing feedback on my blog post. There are a multitude of factors involved with operating an event – particularly one as large as the Sweetwater 420 Fest and 5K. While the hosts of these events strive to be green, it has to be balanced with the needs to make sure the event is also safe and enjoyable.


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