We live in an increasingly health-conscious world — but what about the health of our planet?
Many of us are so focused on our own fitness and well-being that we fail to recognize the repercussions our actions have on the environment.
Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to integrate sustainable habits into your daily exercise routine. Try to align your journey toward physical fitness with a commitment to the environment by following a few of the tips below:
1. Drink from a reusable water bottle.
By some estimates, Americans throw out as many as 60 million plastic water bottles every single day. Do the planet a favor by sticking to reusable plastic or steel bottles and refilling them at a fountain or tap. Tap water is typically hundreds of times cheaper, often costing only a few tenths of a cent per gallon.
2. Carpool to the gym.
Carpooling with some friends or co-workers is a great way to save money, reduce gas consumption, and lower your carbon footprint. As an added bonus, you’ll have new workout buddies to help motivate and support your fitness goals!
3. Head outdoors.
Lower your carbon footprint even further by bringing your exercise routine to the great outdoors. Go for a bike ride, jog around the neighborhood, or join a community sports league to blow off steam and improve your health. Heading outside could translate to a more effective workout, as time in nature has been shown to increase energy and vitality.
4. Recycle snack packaging.
Eating a snack or two before your workout is a great way to get the fuel you need to reach your fitness goals. Unfortunately, our favorite nutrition and performance snacks often leave packaging waste behind that is not traditionally recyclable. Packages like multilayered wraps and films aren’t accepted by most recycling facilities, and they will almost invariably end up landfilled or incinerated.
To reduce some of this waste, my company, TerraCycle, has a variety of recycling programs for commonly difficult-to-recycle performance snack packages. Fitness enthusiasts can now recycle their GU Energy Labs product packaging, Clif Bar and LARABAR wrappers, and Bear Naked granola pouches through our free recycling platforms.
5. Invest in socially responsible athletic clothing.
Clothing and textiles are among the most environmentally harmful products to manufacture. Some estimates suggest as many as 20,000 liters of water are required to grow cotton for a single T-shirt, and clothes are often shipped long distances to reach retail locations around the world. For these reasons, it’s important to choose athletic brands with track records of environmental and social responsibility. Patagonia and The North Face are two great options for the eco-friendly athlete.
6. Check to see if your races are eco-friendly.
Huge sporting events like marathons and triathlons attract tens of thousands of competitors from all over the world. With so many people driving to the event, consuming their favorite performance snacks, and downing thousands of bottles of water, these massive gatherings can get wasteful and unsustainable fairly quickly.
Thankfully, dozens of marathon organizations today are pushing for more environmental accountability at their events. The Austin, Boston and New York City marathons, for example, are going green with comprehensive sustainability and waste-diversion strategies. A marathon’s website usually lists its green commitments, so check online before you sign up for your next race.
7. Consider a solar-powered fitness tracker.
Fitness trackers have exploded in popularity, allowing health-minded individuals to keep track of their steps, calories burned, and even sleep schedules. Today, this now-ubiquitous fitness tech is starting to jump onto the eco-friendly bandwagon.
This past January, Misfit Wearables unveiled the first-ever solar-powered fitness tracker: the Swarovski Shine. The violet fitness tracker in this new collection will feature a large Swarovski “energy crystal” that doubles as an efficient solar panel.
8. Check out the latest green gym equipment.
Turning the kinetic energy generated during your workout into usable electricity may sound far-fetched, but the Green Microgym in Oregon is doing just that. The ellipticals, stationary bikes, and other equipment at the gym actually generate electricity during use and feed excess energy back into the municipal grid. If you’re not in the Portland area, you can still start generating electricity during your home workouts by browsing the products on Microgym's online store.