How has running helped your sustainability journey?
I mean, the real answer is, how has running not helped my sustainability journey? I guess you could say that running wasn’t involved when I first developed my passion for sustainability. I’ve recently traced it back to where I think it came from. I honestly think it came from obviously a few things, but one of the major points was watching the movie FernGully. I recently watched it again and it was one that my sister and I used to love when we were kids. I think that was the starting point for my environmental lean and over the years it’s just continued to develop.
But “How has running come into it?” is the question, and I think running has allowed me to really see the changes while I’ve been out literally running around the streets. I am able to see the damage that weather can produce from extreme weather patterns that are associated with climate change.
I have also been able to see all the excess and waste that people put out on the side of the streets, which makes me think about the accumulation of that. If one family alone is putting out this much waste in a week, multiply that by 52 weeks a year, multiply that by all the houses around, and it really got me thinking about that.
Then beyond that, I started to think about races and just how much waste comes out of them. Millions of cups come out of a race like the Chicago Marathon. They’ve now switched to compostable cups, which is great, but being aware of just how much waste comes from those events. I recently got to see that while working at the Chicago Marathon, with their sustainability team. I got to see just how much was left behind in the starting area, and honestly, it was pretty mind blowing.
So running has continued to develop it, as I have been exposed to different areas, different considerations. Thinking about climate justice and how many of the lower-income neighborhoods, which happen to be black and brown communities, are disproportionately affected by climate change and not given the resources and services that many of us are able to access. My running has also allowed me to see that in full view.
The biggest thing for me that comes to mind, is that there is a huge gap between the work that races and brands are doing and the general public. For example, I’m wearing Allbirds right now. Allbirds has a carbon number on every item of clothing, which is the amount of kilograms of carbon that is created for each item that they make. So my shirt says that 8.1 is the carbon footprint. Now other brands are starting to follow suit, but to the average person, if they see an 8.1 on my shirt, they’re like, “What does that mean?” So I have become aware that for me, my place in the running space is going to be bridging the gap, letting people know about these initiatives, so that then people can take action, and talk about it with friends, and just get this momentum going.
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