Thursday, July 5, 2012


I may be the only person in KC who didn’t enjoy the Color Run. Two reasons. First, I dislike anything marketed as ‘fun.’ I also dislike anything marketed as, ‘healthy’, ‘educational’ or ‘good for me’. Declaring it so doesn’t make it so; it only makes me think you’re trying to sell me something. Conversely, just because something is not deemed fun, healthy, educational or good doesn’t mean it isn’t or more importantly, that I can’t get those things from it. My brain, senses, heart and intuition can tell me whether something is worthwhile or not. So that’s the first reason I disliked the Color Run: the hoopla about how frickin fun it was gonna be to have colored corn starch thrown at me.

Here’s the second reason: the waste involved. Because the land of AWAY is mythical, it was decidedly not fun to see people throw trash on the ground. All those plastic pouches of color runners were given to toss, thrown to the ground. There were trash cans but they were few and far between. Besides, people were having too much fun to be bothered with finding trash cans. But that wasn’t the worst of it. It was the disposable water bottles handed to runners as they crossed the finish line. Since trash cans and recycling containers were not immediately available, people threw water bottles, some half full, to the ground.

Would those same people at an event labeled ‘earth day’ or ‘litter clean up’  or 'water awareness day' behave differently? It’s why I dislike the aforementioned artificial categories; they inhibit our ability to assess situations for ourselves.

Because we’re at an event where our prime directive is fun, does that mean we don’t have to be responsible?

And who shows up to a run in Kansas City in July without their own reusable water bottle? Those who rely on others to think of their needs. It’s like at kids’ sporting events where parents are supposed to bring drinks and snacks for the team. Does running around for 30 minutes on a soccer field really require a disposable pouch of liquid high fructose corn syrup and an individually packaged bar of solid high fructose corn syrup? I know I sound like a killjoy. Maybe that’s because sugar laden products merely resembling food have been marketed to us as fun-snacks-on-the-go for so long we've bought into it. They’re synonymous with the fun of kids’ sports. I’m not sure how fun obesity and diabetes and overflowing landfills are. I’m not sure how fun a generation of kids growing up expecting snacks every 30 minutes is. But I’m pretty sure a generation of adults conditioned since childhood to expect someone to supply them with a snack and drink every time they break a sweat is fun for the companies supplying the products.

We allow companies to infantilize us, making ourselves dependent on profit driven entities to conjure then meet needs. Take the ridiculous disposable water bottle. We believe it is superior to a) regular tap water b) bringing our own reusable water bottle and c) in the case of  sports, prehydrating before an event so we don’t need their evil product. And yes, I mean evil. The ubiquity of disposable water bottles presages a terrible future.

Do we want companies ever looking for a larger market share to control water supply? How fun would the world be if water were privatized and the only way you could get it was to buy it? Currently tap water is about .50 cents per year. The equivalent amount of bottled water costs $1,500. Access to affordable healthcare is nothing compared to a future where access to water will be limited to only those who can afford it. Do we really want to go there?

No matter how thirsty I am I will refuse a disposable water bottle because so far I live in a country where eventually I will get to a drinking fountain or a faucet. I don’t want those options eliminated because I was so busy having ‘fun’ that I didn’t pay attention to what was happening around me.

And I haven’t even gotten to the part about how toxic the damn plastic bottle itself is.