Cook: How much Ironman trash is recycled?

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd/ Sam Long pours water on himself after winning the Ironman. The Little Debbie Ironman Chattanooga took place under hot conditions on September 29, 2019.

More than 20,000 plastic water bottles and 150,000 aid station cups were used during last weekend's Ironman, according to race officials.

How many are recycled?

How many are dumped?

How much water is used? What happens to all that unused race-day food?

What's the carbon footprint of Chattanooga Ironman?

Is it possible for the race to be carbon neutral or carbon free?

It's time we ask these questions, not just of Ironman, but of our races, conferences and festivals. The 20th century is over; we face a climate crisis, and it's time for new ways of thinking.

Look at our Tennessee River; it's one of the most plastic-polluted rivers in the world.

If Ironman borrows our downtown for a weekend, with some 2,200 triathletes swimming through this river, shouldn't we ask that its race not contribute to the ongoing pollution of our river? (Plastic water bottles, especially 20,000 of them, find their way back to waterways.)