As I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon, I was greeted with smiles, bananas, gift bags, and a plastic water bottle. I refused the plastic water bottle and the look I received from the volunteer was one of disdain. If her eyes could speak, they would have said, “you idiot, you just ran 13.1 miles, you need to hydrate!” I flashed a look back thinking, “No thanks, I brought my own canteen.” The vast amount of plastic created by the race was astonishing. I must admit the light sparkled off of the blue plastic like the Mediterranean Sea and then I realized that some of those bottles might end up in the Mediterranean Sea.
At my first Northern California 10K, when I crossed the finish line and was offered a plastic water bottle I replied with, “I don’t want that shit!” The poor girl thought she was doing me a favor. We had just started World Progress Now and I was fully engrossed in researching plastics’ affect on the planet and its affect on birds, fish, and humans. Looking back, I guess I was a bit too harsh with the poor girl who thought she was doing me a favor. I have matured a bit in my responses and now find it to be a great teachable moment for the race day volunteers and I.
On December 12th in the cold chill of the morning I was a runner, trying to outrun my own failures. I was destined to finish better than I thought I could do, to lift myself toward some oneness with self. Running an hour and forty-two minutes gives you a lot of time to reflect. I ran through the whole of my life in the first five minutes, and then became obsessed with self-assessment. Which part of my body hurt, and which part hurt more. This became my focus as I hit mile five. Mile seven got better and was beginning to flatten out, which gave me a chance to refocus on a real issue outside of my self-loathing. What can I do for this planet and its inhabitants? This question has not haunted me, but has encapsulated my being ever since our friends and family traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos in the summer of 2012.
My life’s race was no longer about how much money I could make or what extravagant trip I could go on next, but was based on making this planet better off than when I found it.
As I finished the half marathon, I realized that I had accomplished my goal as a runner, but as I was handed a plastic water bottle I realized I had a long way to go for my quest to help our Mother Earth.
Sustainable Sports Foundation addresses the need to promote local athletic events that support sustainability and giving back to the community. They are advocates of generating less waste and promote the use of water canteens as an alternative to #gowithoutplastic.