I’ve been scouring several blogs about that fiasco of an event called Natgeo Earth Day. A number of bloggers and commentors are attacking runners for their irresponsible behavior of discarding their water cups onto the streets. A couple of examples:
- “You know regardless of the cause, are the runners really that dumb to throw their trash along the streets? c’mon! these runners are even professionals! throwing trash is taught at home and in kindergarten to begin with” (Source)
- “How heavy or cumbersome is a paper cup anyway that you can’t hold it (or tuck in your waistband maybe?) while you finish your run? Does it really get in the way? Does this practically weightless cup weigh you down? Are those precious few seconds that will add to your time to decently throw that cup/plastic bottle in the waste bin, far outweigh the cause that you are running for?” (Source)
- “As for the participants, let me ask you these: (1) How friggin’ hard is it to hold on to an almost weightless paper cup/plastic bottle while you are running up until the finish line?; and (2) Would it really be a such a big deal if you add just around 5 seconds to your running time in order to throw away that paper cup/plastic bottle properly in any litter bin along the way? You were running in an event that promoted Earth awareness. Couldn’t you have at least suspended this usual messy practice of runners worldwide? Being too concerned about your running time to the exclusion of everything else around you does not show your dedication and neither does it make you a model runner. What it makes you is a douche.” (Source)
Let me make this clear. I abhor people who indiscriminately toss garbage onto the streets; and I believe that there should be a special place in hell for those who dump garbage onto pristine park fields or into rivers and streams.
But in our subdivision there are pre-established days when people put out their paper garbage, plastic bottles, and glass bottles. Someone is scheduled to pass and get those items so it can be properly disposed. Homeowners are requested—encouraged, even— to put these stuff outside on the street across their homes. Do you consider this as “littering” in the same light as tossing garbage onto the highway? I don’t. I suppose that some people confuse disrespect with being environmentally aware. Tossing a piece of bio-degradable paper onto someone else’s yard is rude, but hardly environmentally incorrect. It’s an accepted practice for runners to toss cups onto the streets. Go to any running event anywhere in the world and you will see that this is the practice. If the organizers don’t deploy enough street cleaners, then there is something wrong with the organizer.
I, however, make one exception. If you are truly not concerned with time, or you are just running for “social” reasons—e.g., it’s a fad, you want to be seen, you want to brag that you “ran a race”—and you spent a majority of the run just walking at a leisurely pace, then WHAT’S YOUR FRICKING PROBLEM?! For goodness sake, throw that cup in the garbage bin!
With that aside, I truly believe that accountability rests with Natgeo and they truly botched this event. I doubt if runners joined Natgeo’s Earth Day run to “celebrate” Earth Day. Pull one of the Natgeo runners aside and ask how the run promoted environment awareness and I am sure that person will struggle for the right words. I ran not because of Earth Day; I ran because I liked the route. There was nothing in the race that made people aware of the environment. A truly environmentally-aware run would have ditched the hydration stations and imposed that all runners bring their own bottles, limited the run within BGC to limit the traffic that it would have caused, and probably even limited the distance to 5K—10K at most—to reduce the hydration and energy gel requirements. The organizers could have made it crystal-clear not to litter. They could have emphasized it in the adverts, in the opening remarks, through streamers. My friends and I took our mountain bikes to La Mesa one day, and before we rode the trails a marshal instructed us regarding the rules of the area. He emphasized that littering is a big no-no. He said it over and over again. Natgeo could have truly made thousands of runners aware of the environment, and instead they polarized the running community.