10 years ago, most people used plastic carrier bags for their shopping. Now, thanks to increased awareness and carrier bag charging policies, it’s fast becoming normal to bring reusable bags to the shops. Attention is starting to turn to the billions of disposable coffee cups that get thrown into landfill every year – most can’t be recycled even if people think they are doing the right thing by putting them in a recycling bin, because the cups are lined with plastic. Plastic cups that can, in theory, be recycled, are frequently not separated and even then often have to be sent overseas. Unlined paper cups have to be made from virgin wood which reportedly uses 100,000 trees annually just to fuel Britain’s coffee habit - and though biodegradable, the cups take around 2 years to break down.
At a swimrun event we are not talking about waste on the scale of the coffee cup, but we felt it was important to do what we could to reduce our impact. So Breca Wanaka, on March 25th in New Zealand’s South Island, will be the first swimrun event to send not a single cup to waste. Competitors will carry their own reusable cups for use at the course checkpoints. At an average event with 200 competitors, this could divert up to 2,800 plastic cups away from landfill.
Many of you will be imagining swimrunners clutching eco-cups similar to the ones most of us have in the backs of our cupboards - which of course isn’t practical. We’ve sourced affordable collapsible cups that can be stuffed into a wetsuit like an energy gel. They’ll be available to purchase at registration and can be kept for use at future races, too. And while every team will be required to carry two cups, any type will be accepted, whether they are collapsible; soft flasks; or anything in-between.
And if this makes every swimrun competitor think about using that eco-cup at the back of their cupboard for their weekday coffee, our small step might just spread to greater things.