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Though triathlon is a potentially eco-friendly sport—an hour on the bike is always better than one spent in a car—it isn’t completely green. From paper cups on the roads to plastic goody bags stuffed with dozens of flyers doomed for the garbage, races produce a significant amount of waste. In response, many race directors have made a concerted effort to reduce the carbon footprint of their events.
Environmental education is key for the sprint and international events organized by water conservation group Friends of the Riverfront. In addition to eliminating paper registration forms, the annual event gifts its athletes with recyclable swag bags containing eco-friendly race memorabilia (and zero paper).
Deuces Wild Triathlon Festival
The weekend-long festival of racing, featuring half-iron, Olympic, youth, and XTERRA competitions, takes place in the pristine forest setting of Show Low, Ariz. Race organizer TriSports uses the event to enhance awareness of waste-reduction strategies at every turn. In addition to reducing landfill waste by 200 percent since 2009, the race partners with the town’s sanitary district to compost all food waste, plates, napkins, utensils, cups, paper and cardboard generated by the event.
Transamerica Chicago Triathlon
As one of the largest triathlons in the world (more than 9,000 participants participate in super sprint-, sprint- and international-distance events), the event strives to be at the forefront of sustainability by sourcing local food and beverages, donating unused food to charity and recycling all qualified materials (including discarded swim caps).
In keeping with the city’s green reputation, this Olympic and sprint triathlon creates necessary infrastructure, such as swim buoys and bike racks, from recycled or used materials. Participants are given incentives for carpooling, utilizing public transportation, or riding their bikes to the race.