Tips for Becoming an Eco-Friendly Runner
Our planet is under pressure like never before. Pollution, deforestation, overpopulation and a loss of biodiversity are only some of a myriad of issues that are contributing to this status quo. But did you know that tweaking your running habits just a bit can lessen your personal impact on Mother Nature? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Only leave footprints
First things first: Do not litter. Ever. Empty gel wrappers, drink containers, tissue paper and whatever else you carry with you on the run: Stash it in your pocket until you have a chance to drop it in the nearest bin.
Reduce, re-use, recycle
And before you just dump all your running-related waste into a bin, stop and think if there’s anything that can be recycled. Plastic supplement tubs? Coconut water cartons? Old running magazines? Make an effort to separate and recycle your running waste.
As for re-using, why not keep a re-usable glass or stainless steel bottle with you for re-hydrating post-run and throughout the day? Eliminating single-use plastic water bottles from your life will not only contribute to solving one of the planet’s biggest waste dilemmas, but will also do your body a favour through avoiding potential leached chemical substances. Do it!
The same goes for re-using running gear. Many cities have clothing recycling bins or drop-off points – use them for all your unwanted race t-shirts and gear that doesn’t quite fit right. There are also numerous running shoe donation initiatives out there that collect and re-distribute gently used running shoes to runners in need, e.g. One World Running, Soles 4 Souls and Shoe 4 Africa. Why dump your old pair of trainers at a dumping site when they can still bring a fellow runner many miles of joy?
Carpool, cycle or run/walk to races and training sessions
Isn’t it ironic that we often travel tens or even hundreds of miles by car to training sessions and races where we cover much shorter distances on foot? Do Mother Nature a favor and cycle or run to your next race or training session instead. There’s nothing like a gentle active warm-up and cool-down before and after a tough race or workout.
Is your race/training venue too far to reach on foot or two wheels? Then get some buddies together and carpool. Not only will you save on fuel, but you’ll also be causing less air pollution – a win/win for all.
Commute to work
Struggling to fit in your training runs on busy workdays? Why not consider running to and from work if you’re based near your workplace? Talk about multi-tasking (while cutting down on air pollution levels!) at its finest. Many companies are starting to accommodate the active commuting trend by providing showering and locker facilities for commuting employees. And even if your employer isn’t on board yet, why not carpool to work and then run home after a workday? No at-work showers required!
Choose eco-friendly running gear
A number of running gear manufacturers are starting to think outside the box and re-purpose waste in incredible ways. The recent release of the Adidas UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley running shoe is one such example. The upper of this aesthetically pleasing shoe is made of 95% upcycled ocean plastic and 5% recycled polyester. In addition, its laces, heel cap base material, heel webbing, heel lining and sock-liner cover are also made of recycled materials.
And this is only one example. Why not make an effort to find and invest in some easily available eco-friendly running gear near you?
Mind your laundry
Running households are renown for their larger-than-life laundry piles. Did you know that the way in which you tackle that laundry mountain can either contribute to or lessen your impact on the environment?
Using eco-friendly laundry detergent is much easier on your running gear. And, as an added bonus, it’s also much kinder to your skin (if you’re hand-washing) and the planet’s limited water supply.
And if you’re still tumble drying your spandex, then stop. Popping a pile of wet running gear into the dryer may be super convenient on rainy days, but it shortens the lifespan technical gear and uses unnecessary electricity. Plan ahead and use the drying rack instead.
Support eco-friendly races
A number of race organizers are starting to do their bit to ensure a minimal negative environmental impact. The Port Perry Half Marathon and 5K, which is annually hosted in Ontario, Canada, is a fantastic example of this. Some of the eco-friendly initiatives implemented at this race include vegetable dyed bamboo race t-shirts; handmade paper race bibs containing embedded native seeds; an impressive recycling program; a carpooling program; and a total ban on plastic bottles. This race was also one of the first to be certified carbon neutral.
So why not do a bit of research and identify and support the eco-friendly race initiatives in your area? And if there are none, why not have a chat to local race organizers and suggest some eco-friendly alterations?
Remember this: Never underestimate the value or importance of your individual contribution to lightening the load on our planet. What might seem insignificant to you, always adds up in the end. So come on, let’s all do our bit!