//Conscious Consumers

Conscious Consumers

Environmental sustainability and ethical choices are our passions second only to organising fantastic events; luckily both are important parts of organising fantastic events. 

“There is much confusion about what the term sustainability actually means. The important point to note is that sustainability is not just about being “green” and more environmentally responsible – it is more encompassing than that.  In a nutshell, sustainability is about how an organisation continues to run its activities in a commercially successful way whilst contributing towards a stronger and more just society and reducing its impact on the environment.” iso20121.org 

We like to call what we do – being “conscious consumers”. 

Most of our conscious consumer work is done in the planning stage, and we work to ISO 20121: the International Standard specification for an event sustainability management system.

See more below…

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Here are a dozen examples of us being conscious consumers and implementing environmentally sustainable practices at the Pay What You Want Tauranga Half Marathon:

  1. We were one of the first event organisers to take the bold step of ditching a “race pack”.  While other events continued to dish up race packs filled with flyers and tiny samples in excess non-recyclable packaging, we simply stopped. And no one seemed to miss their 16g dry-balls muesli bar.
  2. We pioneered the use of recyclable race numbers.
  3. You’ll only see Fairtrade bananas at our support stations.
  4. We’ve only got room for organic/fairtrade coffee vendors at our venue.
  5. We choose compostable cups for all our aid stations and there are no single-use disposable plastic bottles for water or sports drink distributed at the finish line.
  6. All our on-site vendors and sponsors are required to understand and agree to meet our environmental sustainability standards with regards to packaging and compostable consumables.
  7. We ensure we have an adequate number of clearly labelled waste stations for landfill, recycling, and organic waste around the venue, and we then physically stick examples of which items go in each bin, on the bin lids. No excuses for not getting that sh*t right!
  8. We employ a team of “Waste Watchers” to stand at the bins to politely educate people about what goes where (this also helps to avoid contamination of waste streams, and reduces further hand sorting post event).  But…because there will always be some people who are sustainability-challenged, there is always a need for some hand sorting of waste post event.  This final step ensures we divert everything away from landfill that we possibly can.    
  9. Being seen to collect different waste streams is one thing, but we also ensure that we find the best homes for 100% of our waste streams post event.  This involves, for example, taking plastics #3-#7 outside of Tauranga where they can be processed, and getting our compostable cups commercially composted post event!
  10. No finishers medals.  Yup. This one’s a hot topic for some, and there are people out there who have never, and will never, want to participate in our event because we don’t offer a finishers medal.  That’s their choice of course, but we have our reasons for not supplying. Our reasons are lengthy so click here for more…   
  11. We only print signage for our events if the signage is going to be reusable year on year.
  12. For a bonus point, we have a lead cyclist – not a lead car, and our Tail-end-charlies are on foot – not dribbling along behind the last person in a car.

A little more on waste diversion…because we smash it out of the park (cough cough).

The Tauranga City Council encourages event organisers to have a target to divert 50% or more of their waste away from landfill.  Frankly, we don’t think that’s good enough, and our target has been 90%+ plus each year. Here’s how the event has performed since official audits began.  Audits have been conducted by the team @ EERST (Environmental Education for Resource Sustainability Trust).

Year of event        Percentage diverted from landfill (weight)
2015           92%
2016 96.80%
2017 94%
2018 90%
2019 92%
   
Average (2015-2019) 93%
   

We value the input and support from the team @ EERST (Environmental Education for Resource Sustainability Trust) to help us to continue to achieve our high waste diversion statistics.

We constantly strive to reduce our environmental impact and we hope to influence and guide our participants, sponsors and stakeholders towards positive change.

If you see things at any event (ours included) that have you shaking your head, be sure to communicate that with the organisers! Ask questions and if you are not happy with the answers, tell others who share your feelings and vote with your feet. Be conscious event consumers.