When you tie up those runner’s today, or do some deep breathing on your yoga mat, are you going to think about the Earth? How can the choices you make improve the health of the Earth and the rest of the people you share it with?
Going green in your fitness routine can mean making eco-conscious choices when you buy new items or simply what you do with your fitness equipment when it’s time upgrade to something different.
Before You Even Break a Sweat
Loving the planet starts at the store when we decide to outfit ourselves in the latest and greatest fitness apparel.
Running brings you in constant contact with the Earth and it’s not hard to be kinder with each step.
Choosing a shoe that has a recycled sole or minimal packaging can be a simple solution. It’s easy to find runners that are without harmful chemicals like PVC these days, but sometimes making better choices just takes a bit or research so you know what to look for at the store. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at the store; well informed sales staff can provide you with a selection of environmentally responsible options so that you can feel good both inside and out, with every step you take.
When your shoes have finished their time with you, there’s no reason to send them out to pasture at a landfill. There are many great organizations that recycle running shoes for alternate uses:
Running Free is currently collecting 100,000 shoes for people in Haiti in conjunction with Let These Sneakers Walk Again and Recycled Runners lets you input your address to find the closest runner recycling location to you.
The clothes we put on our back can feel even lighter when we choose companies and fabrics that support the Earth as well as our lifestyles.
Eco-friendly workout options have exploded in the last few years in response to the increasing consumer demand and now whole companies, not just product lines, are there to meet your needs.
Looking for organic materials, fair trade options and sustainable materials like hemp, bamboo, soy and recycled content can go a long way to helping show your support not just with words but your wallet as well.
Companies like Patagoina and Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) not only make incredible products that are comfortable, functional and beautiful but they also focus on sustainable practices, materials and embed this belief into every aspect of their business. MEC also has a free Gear Swap program to encourage people to recycle their products with others to gear more use for less money.
The Only Thing Smelling Should Be You
You may not give eco-friendly fitness gear much thought when you’re more worried about catching your breath but try being nose down on a PVC laden yoga mat and you’ll be reminded right away why good for the Earth is good for you too.
A long hold out of chemical warfare, yoga mats are notorious for their fowl odour out of the packaging. Nothing says Om like getting high off the smell of new plastic. It’s been an ongoing issue, how to manufacture a mat that has the “stickiness” needed while being made of natural and sustainable materials.
The top of the list is likely the EcoYoga Mat distributed by Barefoot Yoga. It’s been rated the #1 eco friendly mat by the New York Times and is made entirely of natural rubber and jute fibers. Having used this mat myself I can speak to it’s excellent traction without the use of chemicals so that nothing comes between you and your perfect downward dog.
Balls, Weights and Water Bottles
Fitness is about so much more than getting ourselves healthy. It’s setting an example for our kids and our communities. Nothing does that quite like an environmentally conscious, fair trade soccer ball with an incredible message:
Fair Trade Sports does more than make an incredible product with a great message, they donate all after tax income to children’s charities. So next time you find yourself coaching your kids soccer (basketball, rugby or football) team, try a different ball that can start a important conversation and lead to more environmentally aware adults.
Weighted workouts are great for your body but medicine balls, plastic/rubber coated dumbbells and stability balls can be a warehouse of phthalates, latex and other chemicals. These additives are not just harmful to the Earth but with more and more people developing allergies and sensitivities to these products, it’s also about inclusion. Finding fitness products shouldn’t be a barrier for someone if they want to get healthy. Ecowise by Aeromat makes an entire line of latex, PVC, phthalate and chloride free products so that everyone can get their medicine ball on.
You are using a refillable water bottle, right? This is one of the easiest ways to reduce your impact on the environment. There are over 1500 water bottles used every second in the US alone, that’s every second! Buying a reusable water bottle helps make a huge difference in your environmental footprint and saves you money too.
Many companies have even come out with great refillable bottle that filter your water while you drink, so put down the excuses and fill up that bottle. You can find great water bottle options at Camelbak, Nalgene and Brita.
By now, most people have heard the warnings of BPA, the additive that was found in many hard plastic, refillable water bottles until recently. Avoiding this toxic chemical is as easy as looking for the BPA free sticker or permanent BPA free marking on the container before you buy.
Practice Balance in Fitness and in Commerce
Celebrate this Earth Day by enjoying the majesty that exists out your front door and trying to make small, healthier choices throughout the year.
It’s not about going overboard, like all things, moderation is the key and awareness is the beginning.
Happy Earth Day!