Ashworth Awards, A Leader In Sustainable Trail Race Business

January 9, 2024

An ATRA Interview, Trail News

/ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – Ashworth Awards, a family-owned and operated event awards company based in North Attleboro, MA, is paving the way for a shift to more sustainable running event awards. Since its inception in 1965, Ashworth Awards has taken actions to improve their sustainability efforts as a company, which include sourcing US-made products, reducing packaging materials, and calculating their brand’s carbon footprint. The company has designed finisher medals for the Boston Marathon for more than forty years and is a popular choice for trail race directors across the country seeking awards for their participants to include medallions, belt buckles, emblems, trophies, pins and other popular designs.

Potatoes Not Peanuts

Ashworth Awards has become one of the leading brands in the event awards space because of their commitment to improving the status quo. With their sustainability efforts, they follow the same attitude to push boundaries beyond what is expected. Ashworth Awards Vice President/CMO Kim Ashworth shares a story of her middle school daughter asking why packaging peanuts are a shipping norm when they are wasteful and toxic to the environment. This sparked Ashworth to seek more sustainable ways to ship their products to customers, which led to their current use of potato-based biodegradable packing “peanuts.”

Ashworth shares her mentality behind this decision, “The main takeaway in terms of improving our sustainability as a company has always been to proactively think about what we can still do better. We don’t wait for someone else to do it first or find someone to deal with problems for us. We’ve now committed to no plastic packing or packing tape for any of our products shipped to our customers.” Most awards companies rely on plastic packaging, and some companies think about changing to more sustainable materials, but Ashworth goes the extra mile to actually make the shift and inspire positive environmentally-focused change in the running community.

Shift To Local Sourcing

When calculating the carbon footprint of trail races, the awards and/or merchandise have higher impacts than most realize. The production of award materials, largely made and shipped from overseas, and the disposal of many of these products in landfills negatively contribute to large carbon footprints. According to Kim Ashworth, the best way to improve the sustainability of the awards industry is to source nearly exclusively US-made materials and design products that provide value to race participants—limiting the potential for awards ending up in landfills.

Ashworth expands on this thought, “The travel of your materials and shipping is something we calculate at Ashworth Awards. This is by far the single biggest change we need to see in the industry. We’ve committed to US-made steel (mostly from Pennsylvania) which is 100% recyclable. We seek out materials with better recyclability to provide better value to our customers. This shift has reduced our company’s carbon footprint and also benefited us from a financial business point of view. Most companies don’t consider how you can reduce tremendous shipping costs for materials that can be sourced nearby.”

The Trail Community Is Ready For Change

The trail running community has taken action in the past decade towards improving the sustainability of its events and protecting the natural environments in which trail races occur. Organizations and resources such as Runners For Public Lands, Trees Not Tees, Protect Our Winters (POW)Trail Race Director Toolkit, Pro Trail Runners Association Environmental Ethical Boundaries, ATRA’s Trail Running Race Sustainability Guidelines, the 2023 US Trail Running Conference’s focus on “Sustainable Sport”, as well as individual action taken by runners in the trail running community such as Dakota Jones’s Footprints Running Camp that seeks to create environment leaders in the trail running community, are just a few recent examples of a community that is enacting positive change. Kim Ashworth speaks to her experience working with races in the trail running space, “Working with trail races has been wonderful. We’ve found all types of running, but especially trail running, are receptive to our sustainability efforts and go above and beyond to make efforts to preserve the natural environments in which their races take place.”

Ashworth shares her thoughts on future sustainability goals for her company, “As a company, we are continuously looking for new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and increase the sustainability of our products and services. We have gone completely recyclable in our shipping and receiving department, have changed all out lighting to be LED lighting in both our facilities to decrease our energy consumption, we have changed our ribbon manufacturing to be as close to 100% recycled materials and are continuously looking for new ways to source recycled materials that are able to be recycled for all our products. We are working arduously to encourage all our customers to purchase our Made in USA products to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Read the full ATRA article here.

About the authorTayte Pollmann

Elite mountain and trail runner Tayte Pollmann is an American Trail Running Association Project Associate and graduate of the University of Portland. This effervescent 20-something is putting his degree in English to good use writing articles and creating short videos from his trail running travels across the United States and overseas.

About Ashworth Awards

For over 55 years Ashworth Awards has been helping race directors, event coordinators, coaches, industry leaders and many others with their recognition products and awards. By providing the highest quality manufacturing and materials, unbeatable pricing, custom designs, and industry leading customer service we have created a seamless experience; assisting you in recognizing your event participants as well as acquiring the proper recognition and exposure you and your event deserve. For more, visit www.ashworthawards.com