The green mile
Local enterprise combines sustainability with exercise
By David Percival 04/19/2012
Don’t expect to find any glossy fliers or brochures promoting Tom Taylor’s local business. One hundred percent paperless advertising sets him apart from the competition.
“A lot of races will send out a thousand mailers to people, and they all end up in the trash anyway,” said Taylor, co-owner of Compete Green, a Ventura-based company that combines physical fitness with environmental awareness. “It was really the right time to focus on all-electronic forms of race promotion: Facebook, our website and personal e-mail are important to us.”
Compete Green organizes local racing events and sells athletic clothing, but with a unique ecologically conscious emphasis that stresses the importance of practicing sustainability of the earth’s resources.
Taylor first noticed the environmental impacts associated with large-scale races when he assisted with other events.
“One year, I volunteered [for a race] at a park in Chicago and it was a mess,” he said, describing discarded water cups and debris everywhere. “I’m not necessarily an environmental crusader; I just wanted to do things in a different way.”
And Compete Green racing events are indeed different.
“We use recycled cups and we sort our trash between organic waste, recyclable waste and just trash,” said Taylor. “We make sure, whatever race we hold, that the location is in at least as good condition as it was when we got there.”
The company lists several additional “Green Initiatives” on its website, including an athletic shoe recycling program and the use of sustainable awards like tree and plant seedlings.
And the ecologically conscious attitude extends to the products it sells as well.
“At all our events you usually get a shirt, an organic cotton shirt or a 50 percent recycled polyester shirt,” said Taylor. “And we try to use soy-based inks when we can.”
Ben DeWitt’s passion for green running often finds him on trails that meander through the brush-choked hills of nearby Sycamore Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains.
“It’s so conveniently located and it’s really beautiful,” said DeWitt, co-owner of Compete Green. “I can be in there for three to four hours and really have a fun time.”
DeWitt hopes more people explore natural gems like Sycamore Canyon and embrace the physical activity that often goes along with such adventure.
“[It’s about] getting outdoors and really enjoying the outdoors,” said DeWitt. “It’s about getting people outside, away from TV and video games, and engaging the community.”
Compete Green was born from the fusion of ideas and mutual interests of its owners.
“It was a collaborative effort,” said DeWitt. “Tom and I met and we started talking about it, an eco-friendly concept. Immediately, this shot in my head: ‘Yeah, this is a great idea; I believe this is where the industry is going.’ ”
DeWitt hopes people who attend a Compete Green event leave with more than just a fresh perspective on green living.
“Ultimately, I’d like to change people’s motivations about why they participate in any one event,” said DeWitt. “I’d rather they look at an event and see how we’re putting it together before they agree to it.”
Taylor hopes race participants have fun and see the big picture.
“Hopefully, they’re happy they did well [in the race], but by doing our race they’re doing a race that’s a little better for the environment,” said Taylor. “We do things in the most environmentally friendly way we can.”
The next Compete Green event is the Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon, Sunday, June 3. The 26-mile marathon takes athletes from the picturesque mountains of Ojai to the scenic Ventura coastline. Visit www.competegreen.com/ for more information.