Sustainability snapshot: A limited-waste Mother’s Day 5K

Summit Metro Parks
5 min readApr 5


Jen Harvey, Chief of Philanthropy; Julie Haumschild, Donor Relations Coordinator; Katelyn Freil, Marketing Specialist; & Claire Merrick, Marketing & Public Relations Manager

Join the 2023 Mother’s Day 5K to celebrate moms, support the Summit Metro Parks Foundation, and partake in a limited-waste event. Photo by Rob Vaughn.

Welcome to Earth Month! As we celebrate our planet and the beauty it holds, it’s essential to acknowledge the environmental impact of large-scale events. That’s why we are thrilled to announce the 2023 Mother’s Day 5K, presented by Buckingham, is a limited-waste event. This marks a significant step toward sustainability, as it is the first large-scale event by Summit Metro Parks and the Summit Metro Parks Foundation designed to reduce waste to a minimum. We are excited to invite you to join us for a fun and engaging celebration of moms that is also an opportunity to take action toward a sustainable future. Let’s run toward a greener tomorrow!

Zero vs. Limited Waste

Zero waste has many definitions, but it generally refers to a waste management philosophy that aims to minimize the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and incinerators. The idea is for all materials to be reduced, reused or recycled, so that nothing is wasted. Achieving zero waste is a challenging goal that requires a complete redesign of current production and consumption patterns. It is an ideal that may be impossible to achieve in the short term, but can serve as a guiding principle to minimize waste as much as possible.

All greenery used at this year’s event will be composted. Photo by Rob Vaughn.

Limited waste refers to an event or initiative designed to reduce waste to a minimum; it aims for zero waste, but recognizes that zero waste is hard to attain. Our limited-waste event aims to minimize waste by reducing, reusing, composting and recycling materials as much as possible, while recognizing some waste may be unavoidable. The goal is to minimize the environmental impact and promote sustainability, while acknowledging practical limitations and constraints. To meet this goal, park staff thoroughly examined every aspect of the Mother’s Day 5K to identify opportunities for greener alternatives and ensure a limited-waste, sustainable event.

In some cases, sustainability is about what you don’t see an event. While medals are fun, they come at an environmental cost, so we’ve chosen not to include them. We are moving the Mother’s Day 5K toward greater sustainability each year, and thank you for your participation and support. Learn more about the steps taken to divert waste from landfills and make eco-friendly decisions below.

This year, all single-use items, like water cups, are compostable. We also encourage participants to bring their own reusable water bottle to receive a free, all-weather Mother’s Day 5K sticker. Photo by Rob Vaughn.

Sustainable Race Efforts


Instead of individually wrapped items, bananas and muffins will be provided as after-race snacks. These snacks will be fully compostable — even the muffin liners! Volunteers passing out muffins will use compostable, food-safe gloves, and muffins will be delivered in compostable boxes in lieu of plastic packaging.


Other than the bibs and chip timers, all park district and Summit Metro Parks Foundation provided items will be compostable, including single-use water cups, packaging, napkins, flowers and greenery. As the Akron Zoo’s exclusive composting partner, Summit Metro Parks will deliver all compostable material to the zoo for processing in their biodigester, Big Hanna.

This year’s Mother’s Day 5K t-shirts are 100% cotton and fully biodegradable, and the race bibs and chip timers will be collected for recycling. Photo by Rob Vaughn.

Bibs & Chip Timers

This year’s custom race bibs are made of Dupont™ Tyvek®, a high-density polyethylene plastic that can be recycled many times throughout its life cycle. The company accepts returns for free recycling. The chip timers on the back of the race bibs will be recycled at Summit e-Waste in Akron, so even participants who keep their race bibs can be part of the effort. Whole bibs, with chip timers attached, will be collected for separating by park staff.


After reviewing many different textile companies, Bella + Canvas proved to be an eco-friendly option for this year’s race t-shirts. Their cotton is ethically sourced from around the world and shipped to their California factory, where they hold a Gold Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production certification. Shirts are 100% cotton, making them recyclable and completely biodegradable.

Participants who opted to receive a native tree instead of a t-shirt will receive an Ohio native tree sapling grown in Summit Metro Parks.


During registration, participants are offered the option to forgo a race t-shirt and opt for an even more sustainable option: a native tree sapling grown in Summit Metro Parks. To date, 22% of registrants have opted to receive an Ohio native tree sapling instead of a shirt!

How can you support a limited-waste Mother’s Day 5K? Bring a reusable water bottle to receive a free, all-weather Mother’s Day 5K sticker, and consider carpooling to prevent unnecessary carbon emissions. If you bring your own snack or beverage in a single-use package or bottle, remember to recycle if possible.

Join a free, naturalist-led program this Earth Month to learn how you can practice sustainability in your own life, and check out Wild Back Yards for resources to aid you in creating a welcoming habitat for local wildlife at home.

Please note: This article was updated to reflect that participants have the option of receiving a general Ohio native tree sapling, rather than specifically receiving a buckeye sapling. Buckeyes will be among the tree sapling species given to participants that selected this option.



Summit Metro Parks

Summit Metro Parks manages 15,000 acres, 16 parks, three nature centers and more than 150 miles of trails. Find more at