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London Marathon goes green with trees instead of race tees

Participants will receive a personalized digital certificate, including a photo of their tree, plus a geolocation, so they can visit their tree whenever they like

London Marathon Photo by: Kevin Morris

On March 28, the 2023 London Marathon introduced the option to have a tree planted by the organization Trees Not Tees, rather than receiving an official race T-shirt, to demonstrate the marathon’s ongoing commitment to reducing its environmental footprint.

The London Marathon will not be the only race adopting this incentive–other London Marathon Events (LME), The Big Half and the Vitality London 10,000 will also give participants the same option during registration.

Participants who choose this sustainable option will also receive a personalized digital certificate, including a photo of their tree, plus a geolocation, so they can visit their tree whenever they like.

As the organization points out, T-shirts have a considerable environmental cost. Making one kilogram of cotton takes nearly 20,000 litres of water (which is around 19 years’ worth of water for a single human being), plus over two kilograms of eCO2. If the shirt is not worn, all those resources were spent for nothing.

“The environmental benefit of saving water and planting a tree is huge,” says the organization. “At Trees Not Tees, we work with a wide variety of events from marathons to conferences, all to lighten the impact of their ecological footprint.”

Trees Not Tees has a goal of planting 50 million trees across the U.K. by 2030. 

Photo: Kevin Morris

“We are fully committed to reducing our environmental impact and we’re working to introduce more initiatives every year to achieve this,” said Hugh Brasher, London Marathon race director. “We know that finishers’ T-shirts are an important part of many people’s event experience, but we also know that many of our participants share our passion for environmental sustainability.”

You can read more about the race’s green incentive, here

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