I’m not a competitive marathoner but I used to go to 5k fun runs quite often.
But then I got fed up with the amount of single-use plastics and waste that are produced at common running events.
The only sustainable race that I had been to was the National Geographic Earth Day Run in 2018. I think that was my last time joining a run because I felt that nothing else could top that.
But the recent Music Run proved me wrong.
The Music Run’s Sustainable Pledge
With the help of CIMB and the folks at YTL Sustainability Group, they aimed to “track all the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions produced by the event”. They invested in a “water filtration project in Indonesia that uses ceramic filters to produce safe drinking water”.
Essentially, they ticked #13 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and became Malaysia’s first carbon neutral mass participation event.
How Sustainable Was The Music Run?
Unlike NatGeo’s Earth Day Run, this year’s Music Run went beyond tackling the issue of single-use plastics.
They thought of waste management, upcycling e-waste and cashless payment.
A huge water refill station
What I haven’t mentioned is that this event was held at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. The route for the run was just outside and around the big stadium.
Inside the stadium were the vendors and amenities as well as the huge stage for performances.
I didn’t actually participate in the run. I came for an entirely different reason (more on this below).
So inside the stadium, there was this water refill station. There were I think at least a dozen water dispenser taps in a row which were all connected to this covered sturdy tent that housed the water tanks containing 100% clean, safe and purified drinking water.
But I’m not sure if there were any refill stations along the race track.
The participants were given reusable water bottles, which were actually the flimsy plastic ones.
Hopefully, people would reuse those plastic bottles and not just throw them away.
Managing waste properly
Just like the NatGeo Run, they had a recycling area which had bins to sort out different types of trash.
For the compostable items specifically, this group called Ground Control was there to help ensure that the materials were compostable. The items would then be turned into compost for organic farming.
As for the rest of the items, the organisers of the event would send them to the appropriate recycling centre or if they’re not recyclable then I guess they would either send to an organisation that does upcycling (hopefully) or to the landfill as a last resort. This part wasn’t very clear to me but I hope all waste was managed responsibly.
Compared to NatGeo Run, I think the Music Run did a better job at managing waste mostly because they had people next to the bins to ensure that waste is properly segregated. At the NatGeo Run, I observed that banana peels did go into the plastic bin.
I applaud this initiative, but the only setback was that they only had two payment portal options.
Since CIMB was one of the main organisers/sponsors, it is one of the options. If you didn’t have a CIMB account then your only option was the Touch N Go portal.
I prefer Maybank QR pay. Or Boost. But that’s probably because I haven’t given CIMB a chance.
I guess the purpose of this was to lighten the burden of participants so they don’t have to carry cash or card while running or partying after the run. All they needed was their phones which everyone depends on.
Another benefit was that there was no need for receipts so that saved a ton of paper.
Are They Replicating This at Other Music Runs?
I checked the next event which would be at Pune in January and it seems that it would be business as usual.
It’s sad that this initiative needs the backing of an organisation or company that wants to make a difference.
In that sense, I’m quite impressed that CIMB in Malaysia was forward-thinking and it shows that they are keen to take this sustainability issue seriously.
Some might think that this is just a publicity stunt but if so, that’s a good thing. It takes so much hard work to install a water refill station and prepare recycling bins instead of just giving new water bottles and dump everything into one big trash bin.
I’m glad that the sustainability effort was incorporated into a mainstream event.
Even though not everyone would change their habits immediately after the event, at least they had an exposure or a view of what a sustainable lifestyle looks like.
And the more they get exposed to it and the more convenient it soon becomes (hopefully), then I’m sure more and more people would adopt parts if not all of it into their personal life.
Performing at the Music Run
The real reason I was there was to perform with a local singer named Nik Qistina.
I sometimes do dance jobs at the side so I was grateful to have had this opportunity.
It was my second time performing live (the first was just the day before at a different event but with Qistina as well). And it was amazing that I got to perform in a stadium.
I will put up my vlog soon so do subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already!