London’s Sustainability Story is not just about Seaweed Sachets

London’s Sustainability Story is not just about Seaweed Sachets

Don’t get me wrong—I loved all the attention the Virgin Money London Marathon got for their pilot program of edible/biodegradable capsules made from seaweed. News outlets ranging from the BBC, CNN, NPR, NY Times, and Forbes all ran stories about London Marathon organizers replacing thousands of plastic water bottles with seaweed sachets at one aid station in a pilot program.

Los Angeles Marathon Recognized for New Initiatives and Longstanding Commitment to Sustainable Practices with Gold Level Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport

Los Angeles Marathon Recognized for New Initiatives and Longstanding Commitment to Sustainable Practices with Gold Level Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport

The 2019 Los Angeles Marathon has received Gold level certification from the Council for Responsible Sport. This is LA Marathon’s fourth certification, which marks it among the ten longest-standing certified events in the world.

Endurance Events Commit to United Nations “Sports for Climate Action Initiative,” Council for Responsible Sport Encourages All to Join

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon, one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, is among the first mass participation events to sign declaration of commitment alongside the Council for Responsible Sport campaign, dubbed #getoffthesidelines.

EUGENE (June 19, 2019) – The Council for Responsible Sport announced today that the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the Sacramento Running Association, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon, Rhode Races, and Grandma’s Marathon have become early signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “Sports for Climate Action Initiative.”

The “Sports for Climate Action Initiative” invites sport event hosts to declare their recognition of “the critical need for cities, regions, companies and investors from around the globe to help implement the Paris Climate Agreement and accelerate the transformative change needed to reach greenhouse gas (GHG) emission neutrality in the second half of the twenty-first century.” It offers five principles to guide forward action that leverages the global popularity of sport to help make a real difference in the battle against climate change, as well as help minimize the environmental footprint of sporting events.

The commitments announced today represent events that host over 100,000 participants and more than a million onlookers annually, with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon being one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors and one of the largest participatory sport gatherings in the U.S.-- with over 40,000 participants during an October weekend in Chicago each year.

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has utilized the standards set forth by the Council for Responsible Sport to develop and improve performance on social and environmental impacts over the past decade, beginning with its first certification in 2010 and culminating with it becoming the first marathon to earn the highest level, Evergreen certification in 2016, a status it maintains today.

“Best practices in sustainability have been a part of our operational culture for the last decade, and we are proud to be one of the first mass participatory sporting events to support the Sports for Climate Action initiative,” said Carey Pinkowski, executive race director. “The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has been at the forefront of the industry when it comes to environmental stewardship, social responsibility and community engagement. We are proud of the legacy we continue to build, and we are thrilled to join a global movement that deepens our commitment to sustainability. We strongly believe that the power of sport can create positive changes beyond the finish line.”  

The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile run, held each spring in Washington, D.C., first earned responsible sport certification at the silver level in 2011. It leveled up to gold in 2015, and has maintained that high level of performance. Event director Phil Stewart commented, "the organizers of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile have been committed to creating a more sustainable event for the last five years. The logical next step in ensuring the future of our planet is to support and join the United National Sports for Climate Action initiative."

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run. Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: George Banker)

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run. Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: George Banker)

Sacramento Running Association, host of the California International Marathon, which earned gold level certification in 2017 and will seek renewal in 2019, signed the declaration. “The Sacramento Running Association is proud to be a signatory of the Sports for Climate Action Framework. California leads the nation on environmental issues, and as one of its capital city's signature sport organizations we believe it's important for us to lead the way on sustainability in sporting events. We believe in sports' promise to be a force for good in the world, and by signing onto this framework the SRA is committing to help fulfill that promise.” said Eli Asch, Race Director of the California International Marathon.

This year, the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia will seek to renew its certification first gained in 2010 and is committed to the declaration. “The Marine Corps Marathon Organization is proud to encourage athletes for a healthier lifestyle and a healthier world. An approach to climate change is similar to training for a marathon, the actions and will to change inside of us positively affects the outcome of many. As runners we take care of our bodies, and as people we take care of each other and the world. Running connects us to nature and every step is one towards a better future.” said Angela Anderson, Deputy Race Director.

Rhode Races hosts more than a dozen events in Rhode Island annually, including the Newport and Providence Marathons. Co-owner Susan Rancourt said of becoming a signatory, “As more than just race directors--as mothers, sisters, aunts and friends-- it is our compelling duty to leave this planet in a better place for our children and their children. We can take small steps in our own business practices and communication to help advocate change on a greater scale.”

"Living directly adjacent to the largest body of fresh water in the world (Lake Superior), we at Grandma's Marathon see it as imperative to become better stewards of our natural resources.” Said Shane Bauer, executive director of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, of why the organization is opting to make the declaration and adhere to its principles. “Regardless of where people live, everyone should be doing everything they can, wherever they are. When awareness that drives action becomes normal, I think we’ll see great signs of progress towards a safer, more sustainable world.” 


All Sport Event Hosting Organizations Encouraged to Sign On

The Council for Responsible Sport is collaborating with the United Nations Global Climate Action program to collect signatories and facilitate collaboration amongst those organizations committed to the principles of the declaration.

Manager of the United Nations Global Climate Action Program, Niclas Svenningsen, said “Climate change is a defining issue of our time. We are no longer talking about leaving the world a better place for our children, and are already experiencing initial climate effects such as extreme weather events, year-on-year record heat waves and an increasing number of climate refugees. The endurance events sector is one of many that is already being impacted to varying degrees. I am therefore very happy to see that there is now a movement spearheaded by the Council for Responsible Sport to harness the power of the more than 17,000 endurance events taking place annually in the USA alone, to take action and encourage a more responsible and participatory approach to meeting the climate crisis.”

“The Council is thrilled that this work is advancing to the highest levels of international governance,” said chairperson of the Council, Michele Grossman. "Since 2014, when it became mandatory for events pursuing Council certification to track their carbon footprint, we have analyzed greenhouse gas reports from over 50 events," said chairperson of the Council, Michele Grossman.

"The vast majority of emissions from endurance events are from participants' travel. We’re excited to recognize events that find ways to decrease and mitigate their emissions, such as how the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run makes it easy for participants to offset their carbon footprint during the registration process.”

The “Sports for Climate Action Initiative” was launched in Bonn, Germany in December 2018. Other signatories to join since the program launched in December 2018 include the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, the National Basketball Association (NBA), the World Surf League (WSL) and the New York Yankees.

The most recent International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warns that globally, humanity has about 12 years to act decisively to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions causing the overall warming trend and destabilizing Earth’s climate system, and that failure to do so will result in ecological and societal effects becoming more and more dire.


About the Council for Responsible Sport

The Council’s vision is a world where responsibly produced sports events are the norm and its mission is to provide objective, independent verification of the socially and environmentally responsible work event organizers are doing and to actively support event organizers who strive to make a difference in their communities. The current version of the Council’s Certification standards (v.4.2) was developed by an outside working group of both sustainability and sport industry experts, reviewed by a wide range of stakeholders throughout 2013 and implemented in January 2014. In 2019, the Council is working to help sport hosting organizations #getoffthesidelines and take climate action, starting by signing onto the “Sports for Climate Action Initiative” declaration of commitment.

Don’t Miss the Plogging Bandwagon

By Keith Peters

Back in the day, when Conley Sports was producing the Austin Marathon, and Michelle Sandquist was their “green queen,” the Conley Sports crew held regularly scheduled “trash runs” along the marathon course. The objective was to systematically pick up litter along sections of the marathon route throughout the year.

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These days, the global term for trash runs is plogging, a mash-up of jogging and the Swedish term for picking up litter—plocka upp. Thanks to Swede Erik Ahlstrom, plogging became a thing in Sweden in 2016, following growing concern about plastic pollution. The term, and the event concept, quickly spread to other countries and was a PBS NewsHour feature last November.


Call it what you will, there’s no denying the fact that picking up trash along our favorite running loops is an activity that has both environmental and community goodwill benefits—especially if one takes the time to recycle or compost as much of what was gathered as possible. And it’s very popular. There are almost 42,000 posts on Instagram hashtagged #plogging, not to mention countless location-based hashtags like #ploggingusa, #ploggingukraine, etc. A quick search will also turn up numerous country- or city-specific Instagram accounts like @ploggingnorway, @ploggingnyc and @plogginglondon.


Not to be outdone by Instagram, there’s a lot of hubbub about plogging on Facebook as well. Ultrarunner and the American Trail Running Association’s Outreach & Partnership Specialist Peter Maksimow started the Facebook Group Pikes Peak Ploggers to clean up the area around Pikes Peak. Group members collect trash and recycling, post pictures to the group page, and can earn prizes like plogging bags, socks, shirts, etc. Maksimow’s is a small (35 members) but active and growing group, with an average of seven posts to the FB group page every day. Of course, there are umpteen other plogging pages and mentions on Facebook.

Peter Maksimow with trash collected during the Del Norte Trails Showcase

Peter Maksimow with trash collected during the Del Norte Trails Showcase

Community cleanup promoted by the Barr Trail Mountain Race

Community cleanup promoted by the Barr Trail Mountain Race

In researching this column, the closest I came to finding an organizational champion for plogging in the USA is Keep America Beautiful. And they’re definitely more of an advocate than organizer. In fact, I’d liken plogging to the Runner’s World fun runs in the late 1970s—very low-key and grassroots, free, and uncomplicated by worries about insurance and/or liability.

Of course, the grassroots activity of picking up litter isn’t new, nor is it unique to the running world. Perhaps, the granddaddy of all 21st century litter pick up campaigns is Litterati, an online community dedicated to identifying, mapping and collecting the world’s litter. With 2,350,136 (and counting) pieces of litter geotagged on its website since 2012, and nearly 22,000 followers of @litterati and 233,719 (and counting) pictures tagged #litterati on Instagram, there’s no denying the involvement and passion that an inspired campaign can generate.

Poke around online and see what you find. Don’t expect to find a plogging how-to manual via google search, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be inspired to go out and pick something up on your next run. Maybe you’ll even start a plogging group or event of your own. Please let me know if you do.


Keith Peters first organized running events for students at the University of Tennessee, Martin in 1978, and was involved in producing the Cascade Run Off from 1981-93. For the past 11 years, he has worked with scores of road races seeking verification of their efforts to become more sustainable. He is currently a board member of the Council for Responsible Sport. Working on this column has inspired him to be more diligent picking up litter while out on the streets and trails of Portland, Oregon. Look for proof @pdxpixbykp on Instagram.

Powerade Monterrey Marathon takes on responsible sport standards in Mexico, achieves gold certification from Council for Responsible Sport

The Council for Responsible Sport (Council) announced that the 2018 Monterrey Powerade Marathon has achieved gold level certification. The 2018 event hosted participants in Monterrey, the largest city of the northeastern state of Nuevo León, México during the second weekend of December and is organized by the Association of Running Clubs of Nuevo León and Arca Continental.

Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee Pursues  First-Ever Sustainable Major Event Certification  During 2019 NCAA​®​ Women’s Final Four​®

Tampa, Fla. (February 5, 2019) -- For the first time in Tampa Bay major event history, the Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee (TBLOC), TECO Energy and Amalie Arena will team up during the 2019 NCAA® Women’s Final Four® in pursuit of the prestigious sustainable event certification, presented by the Council for Responsible Sport.

The Council for Responsible Sport is the world’s leading sustainable sports certification program, offering three core programs that help manage, measure and deliver purposeful events that go above and beyond the bottom line. The certification process recognizes efforts across five pillars of responsible sport; planning and communication, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy. To lead the efforts, a subcommittee consisting of community partners, local experts and sustainability thought leaders have been chosen to help guide the process and elevate Tampa Bay’s innovative green initiatives. The robust subcommittee consists of representatives from the following organizations: TECO Energy, Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay Sports Commission, City of Tampa, Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation, the University of South Florida Patel College of Sustainability, Strategic Property Partners, Tampa Convention Center, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Feeding Tampa Bay, Hilton Tampa Downtown, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, Westin Tampa Bay, Westin Tampa Waterside, Renaissance Tampa International Plaza, The Recycling Partnership, and Resource Recycling Systems.

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"Sustainability applied to events is much more than recycling. The TBLOC and its partners are going through a robust process of putting systems and plans in place that are tailored to ensure accessibility to the event and ancillary activities, weigh the environmental impacts as part of purchasing decisions for good and services, engage and inspire local youth, and elevate local businesses to maximize positive local economic impact--and to have those efforts verified according to industry best practices put forth by the Council for Responsible Sport,” said Shelley Villalobos, Managing Director of the Council for Responsible Sport.

“We are incredibly grateful to our community partners at TECO Energy and Amalie Arena for helping us to invest in and elevate the sustainability efforts around the premier women’s championship,” said Claire Lessinger, Executive Director of the TBLOC. “The opportunity to team up with the Council for Responsible Sport further highlights the ongoing social impact and lasting legacy that the NCAA® Women’s Final Four® continues to have on the Tampa Bay community.”

Over the upcoming months, community partners will provide support and host events designed to achieve the TBLOC’s social and environmental goals. Notably, TECO Energy will provide renewable energy offsets, helping produce a carbon neutral championship at Amalie Arena on April 5 & 7, 2019.

“TECO Energy is excited to be part of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four, supporting sustainability in Tampa,” said Sarah MacDonald, President of TECO Services, Inc. “Their efforts to be environmental stewards matches TECO’s efforts around sustainability as we focus on safely delivering cleaner, affordable and reliable energy to customers everywhere we operate. We have similar interests in building a strong community legacy and taking care of our resources; in fact, some of the six million solar panels we’re installing throughout Tampa will contribute to making the energy the Final Four uses carbon neutral. A community effort that leaves a lasting legacy? We wouldn’t want to miss being a part of that.”

About the Tampa Bay Sports Commission

The Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC), host of the 2019 NCAA® Women’s Final Four®, is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating social and economic impact through sports and entertainment in the Tampa Bay Area. As part of the championship efforts, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission provides local expertise, marketing and event management, and is responsible for raising the funds required to produce the Women’s Final Four and all supporting events. The 2019 NCAA® Women’s Final Four® will be held at Amalie Arena from April 5 -7. For more information on game tickets, please visit For more informationon event festivities, sponsorship, or volunteer opportunities, please visit For news and event information, follow the TBSC on Facebook, TwitterandInstagramorsubscribe to the #WFFTampaBay newsletter.