A Grand Valley graduate student led zero-waste efforts at the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5K April 13 in Grand Rapids.
Chelsea Brehm, movement science graduate student in the Sports Leadership program, coordinated a team of volunteers who collected nearly 900 pounds of compostable and recycleable materials, a diversion rate of 99.4 percent.
“These zero-waste, sustainability events are becoming the norm and will start to be an expectation of participants. We’re setting the standard for how important this is and the direction that other events need to be taking,” said Brehm, from Grand Rapids.
The partnership between Gazalle Girl and Grand Valley began when the event’s planning team contacted Grand Valley’s Sustainable Community Development Initiative for assistance. “They wanted to discuss our zero-waste efforts at the football games and how to translate that plan into their athletic event,” said Kimberly Schoetzow, graduate assistant for SCDI.
Brehm began planning in November. She established a Gazelle Girl Green Team of volunteers who were stationed at recycle and compost bins throughout the course and at the start and finish lines. Organicycle, a local provider of curbside composting, also helped with the effort.
Brehm hopes the event will become certified by the Council for Responsible Sport, an organization that encourages sporting events to be sustainable in all areas. The certification would last for two years.