Booting the plastic bottle out of Brighton Marathon

Brighton Marathon volunteers stand next to a huge table of plastic water bottles handing them out to passing runners.

Over 12 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our seas and oceans every year and a huge amount of that is plastic bottles. Since The Green Runners’ inception, we’ve called for a reduction in running races handing out free bottled water.

Now, we are seeing signs of movement thanks to the action of our members.

Several weeks ago, our co-founder Darren Evans called out Brighton Marathon for their partnership with Buxton. Run by London Marathon Group, there are expected to be at least 750,000 bottles produced for London and Brighton marathons. Nestlé, which owns Buxton, sits in the top 10 of the Surfers Against Sewage annual litter audit.

Darren’s LinkedIn post has since garnered nearly 1700 reactions, with many crying out in indignation at this enormous use of plastic. Darren wrote to the event, saying:

“We seriously challenge you to cut this sponsorship and look at alternative brands committed to creating a circular economy, not a recycling economy, for example a deposit return scheme.

“Recycling is not the answer to plastic waste … Plastic degrades in quality each time it is recycled, meaning that eventually it is made into a product that cannot be recycled.

Screenshot of Darren Evan's LinkedIn post featuring a picture of thousands of plastic bottles of water at the finish of the Brighton Marathon

“I would also like to remind you that plastic is part of the fossil fuel industry, a major contributor to climate change. This doesn’t mean you should look to replace the bottles with biodegradable or compostable alternatives either, they are still single use and we don’t yet have the infrastructure to deal with them effectively.”

Signs of progress

Darren – under The Green Runners’ banner – met with London Marathon Events today and we are pleased to see they are seriously investigating the concerns. While there cannot be a reduction in the contracted provision of bottles, Brighton Marathon will be providing water refill stations. In addition, London Marathon has today published its sustainability policy, with Brighton to follow soon.

Darren met London Marathon Events alongside his co-lead at Plastic Free Seaford, Fran Chrolton, who would otherwise be litter picking in the days following Brighton Marathon, showing just how important local activism is.

Kate Chapman, Head of Sustainability at London Marathon Group, said: “It was really helpful to talk to Fran and Darren and to find common ground. We are taking significant steps to address the environmental impacts from our events but we fully accept that we have much more to do. We are keen to work with The Green Runners and Plastic Free Seaford to explore how we can do better as an event organiser and to raise awareness and understanding of the part that we can all play in addressing environmental issues.”

There is still a long road ahead, but these comments show the collective power The Green Runners have in bringing about change. As part of our ‘How we speak out’ Pillar, our members can campaign on our behalf for better practices in running. Join The Green Runners today to make an action-based Pledge, or send us a one time donation if you are inspired.

We help amplify your voice and give you the tools you need to fight for a fitter planet.

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