Runners encouraged to go green

Ten days and counting until this year’s Khayelitsha 10km run and 5km fun run/walk. 

Scheduled for Sunday August 25, and organised by Khayelitsha Athletics Club (AC), now is a pretty good time to start thinking about how we can make it a really environmentally friendly race.

WP athletics clubs are leading the way with anti-litter and anti-plastics campaigns in their races. Many runners taking part in events up country are shocked by the way runners throw their empty sachets on the roads or in the bushes.

So large is the problem of littering and other poor waste management practices in South Africa, that national government launched the Good Green Deeds Campaign in March this year. Led by the Department of Environmental Affairs, this initiative seeks to mobilise all citizens to become more environmentally conscious and encourages society to clean South Africa, with a big focus on recycling.

If we just focus on plastic – over 1 million tons of it are thrown away in South Africa each year.

Since plastic is not biodegradable – it is broken down by light into smaller and smaller particles that pollute the environment and can take thousands of years decompose. And it’s not just a South African problem but a global one.  In the 2018 State of Plastics report – the United Nations Environment Programme says that by 2050 there will be about 12 billion tons of plastic in landfills. Many plastic bags and products end up in the ocean and are eaten by turtles and dolphins who think it is food. So toxins from the plastic enter the food chain when humans eat fish and other sea-food.
 
Sponsors Woolworths and MySchool, and race partners the Two Oceans Marathon and the Sports Science Institute of SA are all advocates of looking after our planet and cleaning South Africa – one community at a time. In fact last year on World Environment Day, Woolworths announced that it would phase out single-use plastic shopping bags by 2020 and have all of its packaging reusable or recyclable by 2022.  These commitments demonstrate the retailer’s intent to remove single-use plastic from its stores.
 
With South Africa facing a crisis with single use plastics, lack of recycling and litter everywhere – we might be tempted to sit back and think that nothing we can do can make a difference. But this is the wrong attitude. Every time you resist using plastic or when you use it – you throw it in a recycling bin – you are helping your community, our country and our planet. 

Through the implementation of the Move for Health campaign, which is enabled by all the race’s partners, 360 local learners have been afforded the opportunity to take part in the Khayelitsha 5km run/walk. These youngsters will each receive a nifty, branded water-filled plastic bottle to carry with them for 
the race, so they don’t need to use any plastic sachets.   Furthermore, both the 5km and 10km route will have plenty of bins en route for runners who aren’t carrying their own water and use the plastic sachets and cups.  Licensed 10km runners, you can make a pocket with your licence number to store used plastic sachets until you reach a bin at the end. 

Let’s all do a Good Green Deed come race day 25 August and be proud of leaving Khayelitsha free of our litter and plastics and thinking forward of being part of the solution to a clean and environmentally friendly community and country.

The start and finish of both the 10km and 5km events are at the Mandela Park Stadium track in Khayelitsha, with the 10km kicking off at 7.30am and the 5km at 7.45am. There will be lucky draw prizes from SSISA, TOM, Woolworths and MySchool up for grabs. For more information, email khayelitshaathleticclub@gmail.com

Kathleen Mc Quaide is an exercise scientist as SISSA.