OTTAWA, Jan. 7, 2021 – Ottawa race organizer Somersault Events has turned its sustainability practices upside down, starting with a carbon neutral certification through the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation.
Under new ownership since October 2021, the local race organizer has pledged to offset any emissions from its events, including travel to and from races for all participants and staff.
This translates into 263 native seedlings planted locally across the Rideau Valley watershed to absorb the company’s annual carbon over their 80-year lifespans.
But these trees don’t just store carbon dioxide: they also reduce the impacts of floods and droughts, clean the local air and water, provide critical habitat for wildlife and improve the Rideau Valley watershed for all who live here.
“We welcome Somersault to the carbon neutral family,” said Foundation executive director Diane Downey. “Supporting local, native tree planting is a big part of creating a sustainable future for Eastern Ontario and the planet.”
On top of the carbon neutral certification, new owner Adam Kourakis said Somersault has been working hard to reduce its footprint by more than 90% ahead of its first race of the pandemic, scheduled for Feb. 20 as part of Winterlude.
Kourakis has already sold the company’s seven cars, with plans to rent low-emissions vehicles when needed. Six of the company’s seven trailers have also been sold, with only one trailer needed at each event.
Free t-shirts made overseas won’t be an automatic part of the participant package anymore; instead, participants can choose to buy a shirt, with a portion going to a carbon offset. The events will also replace single-use plastics with compostable and recyclable materials, and most maps and other printed hand-outs will only be offered digitally.
“A lot of these actions were really simple, but it’s part of a whole plan to make the company more sustainable,” said Kourakis. He noted the company has been around for 35 years and got set in its ways. “A lot of businesses can use a jab in the arm in terms of environmentalism.”
Somersault is Canada’s second-largest sporting events company, organizing about a dozen events across Eastern Ontario each year. Kourakis purchased Somersault in October 2021 after 18 years as a participant, volunteer, race director and event sponsor through his other company, velofix. Velofix is also carbon neutral certified through the Foundation.
To learn more about the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation’s carbon neutral program and to become a partner, visit https://www.rvcf.ca/ways-to-give/carbon-neutral-program.