The London Marathon took place just yesterday in the capital city, creating an infectious buzz of support for this year’s batch of runners as streets flooded with cheering family and friends. The excitement was palpable and the atmosphere vibrant, but there was one crucial difference this year: a new approach to hydrating the runners.
2019 may prove to be the start of a new trend in sport, with the introduction of biodegradable water pouches to be used instead of bottles. The blob-shaped water sachets are edible and can be ‘nipped and sipped’, and were handed out around the 23rd mile of the marathon to keep runners adequately hydrated.
How do they work?
The sachets are made of seaweed, although you wouldn’t know it to taste! Notpla, one of the innovative start-ups making the pouches, explain that brown seaweed is one of nature’s most renewable resources. The plant grows up to 1 metre per day and doesn’t require fresh water or fertiliser to grow, therefore no other food crops can compete. Brown seaweed also actively contributes to de-acidifying our oceans.
Each pouch has a thin membrane holding the water inside and is both edible and tasteless. Runners bite a small hole in the capsule, gulp down the water and then swallow the thin film. Equally, if they don’t want to swallow it, they can throw it on the ground as it is guaranteed to biodegrade in only six weeks. Given plastic takes hundreds of years to biodegrade, this is a colossal improvement.
Why are they necessary?
In previous years, runners have understandably chucked bottles on the ground once they’d finished drinking, but as a result, roads were absolutely littered with plastic waste by the end of the day. This year was different, as organisers swapped bottles for pouches, along with recyclable paper cups, to reduce as much plastic waste as they could. There were still plastic bottles on the scene, but organisers made sure they were made of at least partially recycled plastic and that absolutely all bottles would be collected and recycled.
Follow Notpla on Instagram for updates on these exciting new pouches that are changing the way we hydrate on the move.
Words: Maeve Campbell