Eco-Marathon: Running for a Greener WorldJuly 5, 2023
By Malika Gizzat, 2023 Future Blue Youth Council member
“Run for a greener world!” is the slogan of the Eco-Marathon conducted by the Youth Environmental Movement (YEM), an inspiring grantee of Bow Seat’s Fellowship Program. YEM is a network that unites institutions to promote a circular economy and encourage environmental education from an early age. It connects with a young audience at national and international levels through technological tools.
We truly can’t agree more with the Eco-Marathon slogan! Our current environmental problems do require all of us to run and act as quickly as possible to help solve them, and that was what all 170 participants of the Eco-Marathon did. Students, teachers, special guests, alumni, and others took part to spread awareness about the importance of recycling and the power of our individual actions.
Did you know that only about 9% of all plastic produced is recycled yearly? One of the reasons for such a low recycling rate is people’s unwillingness to be sustainable. Feeling that this was a significant issue at their school, Ashley Yin, YEM co-founder and president, and the YEM team decided to change that, but in a very fun way!
“A senior who was great at athletics proposed that we host a simple marathon since we were low on funds. This idea later evolved into the Eco-Marathon, which we decided to establish as a yearly event to celebrate Recycling Day, collect funds for the club, and promote sustainability! That’s why our slogan is “Run for a greener world!”
2023 wasn’t their first time hosting a marathon at school, but this year’s event was more sustainable and thoughtful. In their first Eco-Marathon, YEM invited a recycling company called Mutaworld to help collect the plastic bottles that were used during the race, but they noticed that many people threw them on the road. So this year they decided to disqualify runners who didn’t dispose of the bottles in the Mutaworld trash cans. “A lot of people learned the hard way and didn’t win because they were too lazy to throw out their bottles where they should,” explains Ash. On the marathon route, there were 30-40 staff members who served as eco-guardians, warning anyone who threw trash outside the designated places.
As a result, YEM successfully collected over 200 plastic bottles that were recycled and upcycled into many things, like flower pots, glasses, and other bottles. But what is also important was the amount of joy this event brought to the participants! They had an amazing time running a marathon and simultaneously contributing to a cleaner environment.
This was, of course, possible thanks to Bow Seat’s Fellowship Grant Program, which provided funding for the team to buy running numbers, stopwatches, water bottles, ice, prize medals, and snacks for the winners and judges.
“Being sustainable isn’t easy. It sometimes requires more effort while doing simple tasks such as throwing away a plastic bottle. I think this event was a really good way to show the impact of plastic pollution—that large piles of trash can start to build up because of reasons such as commodities. It was a fun way of teaching how to recycle!”
“YEM was created to link environmental clubs, organizations, and schools all over the world to share what we are doing and team up to make our actions have a greater impact. Imagine the Eco-Marathon being simultaneously hosted in all of these schools! We hopefully can make this possible in the coming years, so what are you waiting for? Take action and join us!”