Photo by Pete Sculllion. Words by Tom Hill
Have you heard about the Trash Free Trails “Approved” scheme before?
We wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t; it is one of those things that has been bubbling away in the background for a couple of years now. It’s been tried and tested, refined, and we thought it was about time we shouted a little more loudly about it.
So what exactly is TFT Approved and what is it meant to achieve?
Put simply, it’s a scheme that acts as a checklist for event organisers, with the aim of reducing their environmental impact and encouraging positive social and community engagement.
TFT Approved was born out of our frustration at seeing leftover signage and discarded gel sachets along race courses, but encapsulates so much more. By their very nature, races and events are transient. They come to an area for a single day or weekend once a year. And even the smallest of events leaves an impact; plastic race numbers, zip-ties to hold number boards on bikes, race tape. Single-use is often King when it comes to races.
Then there’s some of the wider impacts; maybe disposable coffee cups and takeaway containers; and most people are likely to have driven there. A slightly less tangible impact is that seen by the local community. Is a race just an inconvenience for them, with roads clogged, noise and little opportunity for involvement or consultation?
That’s a pretty bleak picture that we're painting there, but let's look at the positives, and the opportunities. First of all, races and events are fun. They bring together participants and generate a sense of community. They are a mainstay in the calendar for many people and act as an inspirational goal to work towards. And the very best events have been minimising their environmental impact long before TFT Approved. There’s also many that actively involve the local community, creating inclusive, well loved occasions for racers and locals alike.
TFT Approved seeks to transform some of the steps organisers can take before, during and after their event into a Scheme that is simple, digestible, and doesn't cost a penny. We understand that some are more accessible than others, so we have three standards; Bronze, Silver and Gold level. That being said we also firmly believe that it is possible and desirable for any event to become Gold certified, no matter their size. The scheme is self-certifying, and the toolkit for organisers is available here.
As we mentioned at the start, TFT has been bubbling away for a while, and the toolkit has been used by events as large as Red Bull Hardline and the EWS, through to much smaller events like the Peak Divide. This year we'll be returning to Hardline, as well as joining another hot take in the Red Bull calendar; their BMX competition Red Bull Featured. The Scheme is also being incorporated by the UCI at this year's World Cycling Championships in the Tweed Valley, alongside insanely cool events like Love Trails Festival, Fireride UK, Camino Ultra and more. You can see all the events taking on TFT Approved here.
The TFT Approved Scheme is designed to encourage organisers to take positive steps rather than penalise them for what they aren’t able to do this time around.
So why are we only just telling you about this? Well, we wanted to bring something extra special to the 2023 Summer Season for event attendees and spectators. YOU can also become a TFT Approved (not so) Secret Shopper by taking a look at this checklist and checking if the TFT Approved events you go to hit the mark.
As attendees, spectators and ticket buyers we're a key voice in the race to make events more sustainable - let's join together to transform the way we come together and celebrate the communities that make us and make a positive impact on the places we care about.