Project Manager Tashi Pareek and our fabulous and experienced volunteer Swetha Dandapani put in a lot of time in the months running up to race day to get everything organized. They worked closely with the marathon organisers to minimize waste and ensure that we could recycle as much as possible.
Airtel were not interested in sponsoring the waste management but 4G Identity Solutions, a leader in unique ID research, development, products, solutions and consultancy came to the rescue, donating Rs 50,000 and the Dr. Sreeni Tripuraneni Foundation covered the remaining Rs 28,000. The Dr. Sreeni Tripuraneni Foundation is a not-for-profit organization aimed at supporting education, health and environment to bring a change in the lives of marginalized and disadvantaged sections of society. This money was used for bags, dustbins, gloves and plastic drums. Dr Sreeni also gave us a car and driver for the time we were there and kindly allowed us to use his office grounds for storage.
There was an expo between 9am and 7pm the day before the race and we were told last minute that we would have to manage the waste generated there too. Despite the extra work, it gave us the opportunity to meet lots of runners and everyone was impressed to see that a waste management system would be in place on the big day.
Managing garbage generated by 6000 runners and 3000 spectators, staff and volunteers over a distance of 42km’s is no easy task and on the morning of the race we faced a major setback. At 3am, after no sleep at all we loaded up a tempo with all of the equipment. The tempo never reached the start as it drove to the finish line instead. The driver had no phone and we didn’t even know he’d gone to the stadium until 3 hours later.
Jodie had to stand up in the bus full of volunteers and explain that we had no gloves, bins or t-shirts only a broom and 2 garbage bags per checkpoint. We thought that the volunteers would bail on us but in a true Waste Warriors spirit they agreed that the show must go in and quitting was not an option. On finding out the tempo was at the stadium Jodie jumped off the bus and sped to the stadium in Bhupesh’s truck which was then loaded up and sped back to the start to start distributing the equipment even though the race had already started.
Thanks to our volunteers, the 17 checkpoints were cleaned quickly and efficiently but the major challenge was at the finish where brunch boxes and drinks were being distributed to the thousands of runners and volunteers at an alarming pace.
We had lots of appreciation and support from the runners many of whom helped by segregating their own waste under our guidance. We split the waste into the following categories:
Cardboard, plastic bottles, hard plastic and thick shrink wrap, paper cups, brunch boxes, Tetra Pak, food waste and non recyclable.
The 100 cardboard bins generously offered by Ram Prasad not only looked great but also helped keep the route and stadium clean. Made our work much easier and we would love to use them again.
We were at the stadium until 10pm that night segregating waste. Our core team didn't even get a chance to sleep before the event so being able to work until that time was pretty remarkable. Our hard work paid off though and there were only ten bags of non-recyclable waste that we couldn't send for recycling. Considering there were 9000 people generating waste that’s pretty good going! Three 140 litre drums full of food waste were sent for composting.
Thanks goes to all our volunteers for their hard work and commitment, anyone who can get up in the middle of night to work with waste deserves a special thank you! We had over 100 volunteers from a variety of sources including 4G Identity Solutions, University of Hyderabad, Dhyanhita High School, the Nirankari Baba Mission, and student organisation The Green Nest. You can visit The Green Nest facebook page here The Green Nest
We did not get paid for the work and the marathon organisers only covered our travel costs but a whole host of ‘Well Wishers’ raised funds for us totaling Rs 79,000 online via the Instamjo website. HUGE thanks goes to all our 'well wishers' who raised funds for us. Anusha Dandapani raised Rs 28,000 in total and was our champion fundraiser followed closely by Shravanth Koneru and Karishma D'Souza!
Special thanks also goes to Srinivasa Hatcheries Group who donated an additional Rs 25,000 bringing our fundraising total up to Rs 104,000.
Shravanth Koneru & Swetha Dandapani offered their home which was transformed into a Waste Warriors HQ for the week. We can't thank you guys enough!
Big thanks also to Bhupesh Bhupathi and his team for making our stay such a memorable one. Every length was taken to ensure we were comfortable and had everything we needed, we couldn’t have done it without him!
We have already received emails regarding managing the waste at other marathons so get ready for even more action in the future! The whole experience was absolutely amazing, thank you Hyderabad!