Cycle Oregon – A Green Event
One of our major quests over the years has been to make Cycle Oregon as sustainable an event as possible. And one of our biggest successes has been our Green Team program, which teams up CO volunteers and ZeroHero, a business based in Ft. Collins, Colorado, to help our event “green up.”
Again this year, ZeroHero will supply 50 Waste Recovery Stations (WRSs) – tent-like structures measuring roughly 4’ by 8’ and covering three bins – one each for compostables, recyclables and garbage. Volunteers from the CO Green Team will be posted at multiple WRS sites, both at the overnight site and on the route, talking with people to show them which items go in which bins and adding information about the products, composting and recycling, etc.
To help the effort, Cycle Oregon is requiring vendors to use the most environmentally friendly products possible. For example, “paper” products such as plates are actually made of bagasse, the residual fiber product of sugar-cane processing. And all cutlery is starch-based and fully compostable. Cups are made of a corn-based resin, also compostable. There is no bottled water, and drinks are served in compostable cups. Cycle O will also work with vendors to recycle as much cardboard or other packing materials as possible.
The results are staggering. Based on the products used and the volunteer system in place, in a representative year 78% of all CO waste was diverted from landfills – 33% composted, 23% recycled, 22% cardboard – and only 22% ended up in a landfill. This massive improvement is based on well-sorted waste – hence the volunteers and the three-bin WMS system. And, because compost and recyclables are commodities with market value, they reduce CO’s overall waste management cost.
One of the pieces of rider feedback we’ve received in the past is that using a disposable plastic bag for each person’s lunch seems wasteful. That’s true – and we’ve done something about it. Again this year we will be giving each rider a customized Cycle Oregon musette bag as part of the rider packet at check-in. (If you’re a repeat rider from last year, we hope you saved your musette bag – bring it and use it again!) You’ll be able to take the bag with you each day if you want (it folds down into a very small pocket packet) and use it at lunch. This change alone eliminates more than 10,000 plastic bags from our environmental footprint.
To keep our disposable materials to a minimum, our Gear Drop team employs reusable nylon bags for gear drop each day rather than the old system of plastic bags. If you need to shed a few items, just find the gear drop truck at a Lunch stop or ODS rest stop. Drop your (clothing) items into a bag, attach a strip of tape with your rider number on it, and drop it in the appropriate cardboard box. Your bag will come back to you near Rider Services later that afternoon.