The Houston Marathon Committee’s Commitment to Sustainability
The Houston Marathon Committee has a long-standing commitment to environmental and social sustainability that includes striving for zero waste, reducing the event’s carbon footprint, encouraging inclusion and accessibility for athletes of all abilities, and supporting 62 local, nonprofit charities.
In 2015, the HMC continued to make strides to be more sustainable and was re-certified as a Gold Level sustainable race by the Council for Responsible Sport. Click the link below to learn more information about the Council of Responsible Sport, including a sampling of the credits we are applying for.
Some of our sustainability initiatives include:
- Encouraging expo vendors to minimize and recycle packaging
- Implementing a ban on polystyrene (Styrofoam)
- Donating unused food to the Houston Food Bank
- Donating all discarded clothing on the course to local homeless shelters
- Collecting used shoes at the expo for donation
- 100% paperless registration for both race participants and volunteers
- Virtual Goodie Bags
- Utilizing filtered hydrant water at all course water stations, reducing the need for plastic bottles
- Composting all food waste and other organic materials, including all Refueling Station cups
- Providing environmentally friendly portable toilets
2015 Race Weekend Highlights include:
- A bike escort was provided for every hand crank athlete on the course, as well as parking at the George Brown Convention Center—nearest to all the race day activities.
- Collected and recycled 3.7 tons of used shoes and clothing
- Recycling and composting were offered at the expo and from start to finish for the 5k, and both the full and half marathon. ‘Green Team’ volunteers sorted refuse from tables into the bins, minimizing contamination and helping achieve 77% waste diversion from the landfill.
- Calculated greenhouse gas emissions from event operations and participant travel. Participants who flew to the race were responsible for an average of 950 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, while those who drove averaged about 70 pounds each. 1,322 people flew to the race, while 18,059 drove.
- Total local economic impact including estimates of spending on food and beverage, entertainment, hotel nights and car rentals totaled over $17 million.
- The HMF provided over $50,000 in support to Students Run Houston—providing race registrations, coaching, shoes, apparel and transportation to and from the event for more than 200 local high school youth.
- Marathon staff created and hosted training sessions to inform staff and committee members of the appropriate ways to communicate with differently abled guests (runners, volunteers, spectators) during the event.
- Provided 80 free 5K race entries to Bell Inizio, a Houston-based group that assists disadvantaged women living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, and halfway houses.
How you can help us be more sustainable:
- Bring your old shoes to the expo and drop them off at the Waste Management booth where they will be donated to SEARCH Homeless Services.
- Reduce your carbon footprint on race day by taking public transit, or sharing a ride with friends and family.
- Consider volunteering for a shift with the Green Crew during race weekend to help with our recycling and composting effort.
- Use a reusable bottle on race day and refill it at the refueling stations along the course.
The Houston Marathon Committee’s pledge to social sustainability
The Houston Marathon Committee is committed to respecting and including athletes and volunteers of all abilities, and not to discriminate on the basis of age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, race or religion. If you have comments or suggestions for how we can enhance and strengthen this commitment, please contact the race organizers.
Waste Management Sustainability Services is partnering with the Houston Marathon Committee to incorporate green strategies into every stage of the event. Not only do they provide port-o-lets and oversee waste, recycling and composting on race weekend, Waste Management will also help the Houston Marathon Committee think about how to decrease the amount of waste coming into the event, strategize on reusing materials from year to year, find outlets for more nontraditional recyclable materials, and help position the Houston Marathon as one of the most sustainable races in the country.
Founded in 2008, Boston-based Athletes for a Fit Planet provides sustainability services to races and athletic events of all sizes across North America. The company focuses on helping events minimize their waste, carbon and water footprints and is working with the Houston Marathon Committee to earn certification to the Council for Responsible Sport’s standard.