Deauville triathlon was my first race since Covid. The several lockdowns for a year and half made me feel like a desperate animal in a cage. I needed a race and this time, my “why” was to use zero plastic.
The part that I cannot control
It was such a nice surprise to arrive at Deauville triathlon and realize that the organizers had a zero waste objective. They truly made efforts to avoid different type of waste (multiple flyers, plastic glasses, etc.). They also banned the 3 plastic bags that are usually distributed in races and that triathletes have to use during the race transitions. However, the must-wear swimming cap and bracelet distributed to the athletes were in plastic. As an alternative, the bracelet could be made in tissue (or another sustainable material) and then reused. Swimming caps could be made with other sustainable materials or athletes could bring their own.
The part that I can control
In sport competitions, distributing to participants water and food without using plastic could be done quite easily by the organizers – I don’t see any big challenge for this. For example, instead of trashing an impressive quantity of plastic bottles and glasses at the end of each sport event, sponsors could have reusable big containers and cups that are washed and reused.
On my side, to be zero plastic during the triathlon, I organized my own logistics for water and food. I had prepared before the race my own plastic free dry fruits mix and mini sandwiches. I had asked previously the Airbnb host if tap water was drinkable and she said yes. So, I prepared before the race a running hydration backpack and 5 stainless steel bottles filled with tap water: one before the swim, two for the transitions and two for the biking.
Though, the stainless steel bottles had two major inconveniences compared to classical biking plastic bottles. First, their weight: in the several very long coasts where every single gram added to the bike count, I would have just thrown them away. Second, it was simply impossible to open the bottles with one hand while riding. Plastic bottles are more convenient, but they release microplastics in liquids, need to be changed frequently and are massively wasted. I think, an affordable, sustainable (in terms of material and long-term use), slight and easy to open bottle would be a great innovation to consider.
To control or not to control that is the question
I can keep looking for alternative solutions to eliminate my own plastic use. I can keep organizing my own logistics for food and water during competitions. I can even keep suffering from the weight of resourcefulness non-plastic solutions during the races. For the rest, I still can write articles to sow seeds around.