Zero Waste on the Three Peaks

Kofu City, Japan
October 2018 | Words and images by Klean

Yumi Matsui didn’t set out to organize one of the most challenging trail running races in Japan. Her goal was to create a shared experience connecting people with the outdoors—and each other. What materialized in 2013 was the Three Peaks race: a 38K route covering three of the steepest peaks in the Yatsugatake Mountains. The race was successful almost immediately, and by the third year, Yumi pared down access to only a select number of runners in order to limit environmental impact on the remote mountainous region.

Still, Yumi struggled with the amount of garbage the race produced. With countless Zero Waste volunteer hours under her belt collecting garbage in the mountains, she felt that cleaning up and recycling wasn’t enough. Preventing waste was the only solution. She chose to provide Co-Branded Klean Kanteen products as reusable hydration solutions to race participants (instead of single-use cups).

While organizing and volunteering at races, I noticed aid stations only have paper cups and people use them without realizing they are creating waste. I started to notice garbage bags filled with paper cups after every race. I run outdoor trails with an appreciation for nature, but ending races with so much garbage made me feed sad. Some friends and I decided we wanted to take action.

In 2017, with Yumi Matsui's leadership, the Three Peaks race went cupless. Thanks to her determination and persistence, going forward the race will divert 3,000 paper cups from ending up in a landfill or on the side of the trail. With the success and interest in the race, Yumi is committed to create change in other sporting events, with the goal of making the Tokyo Marathon the first national marathon to go paper cup free.conscious business practices.

Klean is excited to share stories of inspiring local heroes from our global community who are reducing single-use waste and living Klean in a big way. We hope you’ll be as inspired as we are. #BringYourOwn