Atayne Launches with Some Trashy Competition

by Jeremy Litchfield on August 5, 2008

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Atayne investor dinner in my “What Keeps You Up at Night?” (June 25) blog. Since then, things have kicked in to high gear. Following that meeting, substantial seed funding was secured. The call for support in my June 25 blog was answered as people showed their belief in Atayne by responding to the blog (via personal emails or comments) and by visiting the website to sign up for the email list. We are now running full steam ahead. The website is set to launch this week (as my girlfriend is pushing me to hit the magical 8-8-08 date) and sales will follow about a week later. There is not doubt this success is due in large part to the Atayne community.

On top of all of that, we took part in our first official event on Saturday, July 26 in Portland, ME. Atayne was one of the sustainability sponsors of the Zone Urban Epic (ZUE). Atayne’s participation was not your typical “plaster your logo on everything” sponsorship. No, we decided to get a bit more creative in our visibility and simultaneously do something positive for the environment.

Will Run 4 Trash

Will Run 4 Trash

While the ZUE entrants ran for pride, glory, and accomplishment, Team Atayne ran for trash and a cleaner environment. Following closely behind the race participants on the course, Team Atayne collected trash of all types to leave the course even cleaner than the ZUE athletes found it. Additionally, through an innovative partnership with upcycling firm TerraCycle, we had collection stations for energy bar wrappers, nutritional gel packs, swim caps, polyester-based sports apparel, bottles and cans, and more. What did we do with all this so-called trash? Not send it to a landfill! Working with TerraCycle, Atayne will use as many of those “trashed” materials to make eco-friendly products ranging from tote bags and purses to sports apparel and shoes.

Overall, Atayne’s particaption in ZUE was a great success. We made some new friends for Atayne and collected over 100 lbs of trash from the second segment of the run course (just 3 miles)! For me, it was a rather startling load and yet another wake-up call for the problem we have with waste in our society. (See my June 5 blog for more.)

Team Atayne

Team Atayne

These results would not have been possible without the help of some incredible volunteers. A group of 5 college students/recent grads dedicated their weekend to picking up trash. There was nothing glorious in it for them: just a free shirt and the knowledge that they did something good for the environment.

The evening before the event, Mike and I decided to provide them with a small monetary incentive. But instead of straight pay, we set it up as a competition. Might as well get into the competitive spirit of the event. We would split the group into two teams. The team that collected the most garbage would win $100. Not a ton of money, but enough to get the competitive juices flowing.

Instantly upon announcing the competition, it was on. The teams divided, and the “trash” talk began. Mike and I sat back and smiled as a group of 21 to 22 year olds got excited about the prospect of picking up trash.

Saturday morning we were out at the event bright and early. While setting up, Mike and I talked about how once the collection was over we would help the teams sort what was collected and educate them on what can be reused or recycled and what must be thrown away. This would be a great opportunity to educate this young group on being good environmental stewards.

Back From the Run

Back From the Run

Later that morning when the group, led by Mike, returned from their collection run they were all a bit sweaty but all were smiling ear to ear. They dropped the 9 completely full bags of trash at my feet and joyfully started telling me about their run. After several minutes they stopped, and I asked, “Okay, but who won?”

One of them quickly answered, “Who won? No one won. We all joined forces.”

This caught me by surprise, and I then noticed Mike smiling at me. On a day when we thought we would be teachers, we turned out to be the students. Without saying anything, our young volunteers reminded us that when it comes to saving our planet, we are all on the same team.

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Will Run 4 Trash Part III « The Story of a Red Shirt
October 27, 2008 at 12:52 am

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Bryon Powell August 5, 2008 at 6:07 pm

What a great concept and great story! I can’t wait to share it! As I was reading, I was envisioning particular roads and bike paths in DC that could benefit from a race/trash clean up.

Here’s another idea for you. In addition to the great idea of having sweeps pick up the course, if the finish is in a park or similar place why not ask participants to spend a few minutes (or hours) cleaning it up! As I think of the DC-area ultramarathons, they tend to start in heavily used urban parks like Great Falls NP and the Hemlock Overlook area of the Bull Run/Occoquan park system. Just thinking aloud here.

Jeremy Litchfield August 5, 2008 at 6:32 pm

Bryon, great idea and keep them coming. We have had conversations around cleaning up different running areas. When I am in New York, I sometimes workout at a track in McCarren Park in Brooklyn. People leave so much trash there it looks like a landfill.

My girlfriend goes there a few times a week and brings as much as she can back each time, but it needs a serious clean-up and more importantly a significant change in behavior by the people using the track.

Mike V. August 5, 2008 at 8:33 pm

Atayne continues to inspire. I am thoroughly enjoying getting an inside glimpse at some of the ideas you have and decisions you guys are making (all of which seem right on) as you get things rolling. Looking forward to the launch and more so, to see what you all do next!

Michael Hall August 6, 2008 at 1:46 am

Thanks Byron & Mike – I can’t tell you how great it felt running under the finish line with all that trash and how inspiring it was to see young 20-somethings get excited to do some good for the environment. It was truly a win/win/win/win for the environment, the race, our young company, and the people involved. As for cleaning up other areas, we have a ton of ideas on how to go about expanding this great service to benefit local communities (and welcome suggestions – so keep em’ coming). This event only confirmed our belief that doing good can also be good for business. We are SO PROUD of how hard these young volunteers worked while having fun and doing good. Can’t wait for the next one…

Paige August 6, 2008 at 3:24 pm

Another great blog! I’m proud of you guys and what you’re doing; it’s incredible the positive influence you’ve already had on others. I’ve actually started interuppting my runs along the lakefront path to pick up garbage…at my soccer game last night, some putz turned a garbage can upside down and dumped the contents all over the pitch, so I walzted over and cleaned it all up. I felt pretty damn good after that, and it’s all because Atayne and what it stands for has become top of mind. I never really used to think twice about seeing litter on the ground, now it drives me crazy and I have to pick it up! I’ll never throw another hydration station water cup on the ground again…

I can’t WAIT to get my first Atayne shirt!

Good job guys : )

Linder August 7, 2008 at 3:50 am

Great job guys! For all of you Atayne Followers: There’s a wonderful article about Jeremy and Atayne in the local newspaper near the town in Maine, where Jeremy grew up . It’s in the Sports Section- Environmental Apparel – August 6, 2008. If you get a chance, check it out.

J.N. August 7, 2008 at 4:47 pm

This site truly stands for what running can do for a person. True Story – in college I was kind of in a “weird place.” People thought I was a recluse, kind of effeminate and geeky. I specifically recall being called a geek by this one jerk, and I got so mad I basically cried all night….and that was on my vacation! Then I started to run…..and my life changed. I got into great shape, my grades got better, and I bought a dog. Reading your site reminds me of how people can get behind a cause like running and the environment. I am behind you Jeremy! Thanks!

Jeremy Litchfield August 7, 2008 at 6:03 pm

J.N., thanks for your story!

“How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game…whether you are a winner or a loser.”
-Lou Holtz

It is obvious what you have become. We look forward to you being a life long friend of Atayne.

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