As far as I’m concerned, everyone has their fight to fight, right? I’ve been doing my bit as much as I can for the causes closest to my heart but behind the scenes, I still try to contribute to other causes as best as I can – like looking after the environment. I won’t lie though; my efforts have mostly been driven by ‘fashion’ and convenience with a nuance of the environmental factors behind it.
I recently followed along on a Facebook live by Charlotte of A Zero Waste Life, about Zero Waste Exercise which I found pretty fascinating. Charlotte highlighted lots of small ways we could make positive changes to our fitness routines to make them more ethical and sustainable. I’ve included a few of the things Charlotte mentioned in this post, along with some of my own ideas and ways I’ve come across that can help.
What Is The Concept Of Zero Waste?
According to Wikipedia, Zero Waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. Currently, only 9% of plastic is actually recycled.
In all honestly, I thought my efforts to recycle as much as I could was something but recycling is literally a last resort. I recently learnt that any black plastic cannot be recycled because it cannot be detected by the machinery involved.
I hope we all know by now that things like single use coffee cups which seem to be made from paper actually have a plastic coating inside which makes them non recyclable as the two materials cannot be separated in the process.
So for starters, say no to the tens of plastic water bottles and coffee cups you get offered as freebies and invest in a good quality one that you can reuse over and over again. I have a couple of keep cups and I’m thinking of getting one of these as I’ve been told they fit on the bike which would be perfect for colder weather.
Even if saving the planet is not high on your personal agenda, it can’t go unnoticed that a lot of brands have started to take notice of the changes that need to be made.
I was invited along to a beach clean event back in 2018 on the south coast with Adidas and Wiggle to celebrate the launch of their new Parley running shoe which are made from upcycled plastic trash collected from remote islands, beaches and coastlines.
This was the first time I openly spoke about the whole reducing plastic issue on any of my channels to be honest, and it did motivate me to think more about what products I buy and how much waste I create.
Ways to reduce waste when running:
- choose local races to reduce travel
- choose races abroad that you can get the train to rather than fly
- say no to freebies at running events
- you don’t need to buy new things to start your zero waste journey – use what you already have
- buy second hand
- if you buy new, buy better so it lasts longer
- take snacks / fuel for during and after the event to save buying products in non recyclable packaging
In 2019, TENZING launched their ‘Tenzing Clean Air Run Club’ in London that tackles health, fitness and London’s air pollution with the use of technology. Runners breathe much more heavily than pedestrians and therefore flood their lungs with pollutants.
This run club uses the Tenzing Clean Air Tracker (developed with Kings College London) to analyse ‘Clean Air Routes’, ensuring that runners avoid the most polluted areas and streets in the city.
In the case of races and events, Charlotte mentioned in her video that some now allow you to opt out of receiving the goodies at the end so look out for that. I recently got given this option – to not have a race tee – when registering for the ASICS London 10K.
If that option isn’t available just say no at the finish line so you don’t have more waste to deal with. Event organisers will need to dispose of everything correctly and donate any unused food items.
In regards to kit, I happened to be on the adidas website not so long ago and noticed that they have a scheme where you can trade your unworn or completely worn out adidas gear (for items you purchased directly from adidas UK) for credit and they pass on the kit for “new use”. This stat below came from their website…
Keeping clothes in use for an extra 9 months can reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by 20-30%Source: WRAP, 2012
Choosing Sustainable Fitness Brands
I’ve come across more and more brands recently who use recycled materials in their kit and products so I’m updating this post to share some of my favourites.
SunGod Infinite™ Recycled Frames
I’ve been a fan of SunGod products for a number of years now, not most because you can customise your sunglasses but because they are built to last. If you break you glasses, they repair them for free! And you can also purchase parts separately – like lenses – if needed.
SunGod have just developed and launched their own 100% recycled frame technology using the same ultra-durable plastic polymer as the rest of the range. Equally as durable as the normal frames, the Infinite™ frames are better for the planet and are available across the entire sunglasses range.
I got a pair of Sierras and love them:
You also need to check out:
- Hylo Athletic – they make running shoes from natural materials, that are recyclable and carbon negative
- For Every Adventure – British ecocentric cycling & multisport brand
Make Your Fitness Routine Green
Last Summer on my first yoga and surf retreat we were treated to a goody bag of local handmade products. It included lots of ace products like bamboo cotton buds, a shampoo bar and a cotton shopping bag.
We also spent some of our time during the weekend joining a local beach clean event. It made me think about the small changes I could make in my day to day routine and fitness routine.
Ways to reduce waste when exercising:
- buy equipment second hand
- check out charity shops for unused equipment especially around mid to end of January
- if you buy new, buy better so it lasts longer
- sell your unwanted fit kit (easier when it’s better quality)
- buy nutrition / supplements etc in bulk rather than single serve
I try not to hoard lots of running kit and shoes that I don’t need so I very rarely have to throw anything away. I often list my unwanted (and well kept) kit over on Facebook Marketplace, Depop or Ebay. There’s a post on the blog with all my best tips for selling your fit kit on Depop.
If you do buy new though, as Charlotte also suggested, save up and buy the best quality that you can. Look after your kit to keep it in the best condition and then sell it on if or when it becomes surplus to requirements – good quality kit will sell the best too!
Where Do You Exercise?!
This was an area that I hadn’t really considered much – or more that I never consciously thought about it. It mainly comes now to your carbon footprint. Here’s a decent definition from dictionary.com – the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.
So we can think about this in terms of travelling when exercising. Do you drive to the gym?! I’ve been that person and I do often drive to parkrun to allow myself some extra time in bed. That is definately a habit I am looking to eradicate soon!
Options For Where To Workout:
- outdoor workouts
- home workouts
- pick a gym / studio closer to home so you can walk, run or cycle there
- build exercise into your day to day tasks i.e your daily commute, supermarket trips
You might need to get inspired to take your workout outdoors especially when the weather is on the colder side but the benefits go far beyond the physical.
When it comes to home workouts, well, you’re in the right place! I have a ton of workouts on the blog you can try at home, including the one’s listed below. You can also check out on demand fitness apps like Fiit or Nike Training Club. One of my personal goals was to nail my indoor training set up on the bike so I can take advantage of home workouts more.
Want Some Home Workout Inspiration?
- 30 Minute Boxing Inspired Workout
- 30 Minute TABATA Workouts
- Quick & SIMPELLE Workout #1
- 12 Minute SIMPELLE Workout
- Core Power Workout
- Plyometric Lower Body Workout
Where to Recycle and Donate Your Fitness Clothes
As well as the Adidas initiative I mentioned earlier, there are others places to recycle or donate your fit kit that isn’t in good condition for swapping, selling, or donation. In a perfect world, the best way would be to reduce, reuse and then recycle.
I did just spot that Runners Need have launched a Recycle My Gear service where you get 10% off full-priced clothing when you recycle clothes via one of their Cotswold Outdoor, Snow+Rock or Runners Need stores, or at any SOEX recycling station.
Soex recycling stations can be found at 11,000 venues across the country in council car parks and recycling venues as well as exclusive station with Waitrose, Tesco and Booths supermarkets.
Quite often you can donate kit in your local community groups – like running or cycling clubs. Kit can be expensive so I’m sure there will be people who would happily use any kit you can’t.
I recently donated sone kit to FIT SW11 Apparel who donate free pre-loved fitness gear to empower women and help the planet. Unfortunately, Michelle sadly passed away in 2021 and the programme has not continued.
One of my favourite ways to reduce my fit kit wardrobe – but also quite time consuming – is selling pieces via Depop. You could also use eBay or Facebook marketplace.
Another area I’m trying to do my bit is, in around menstrual products. Check out my tips and reviews for having plastic free periods.
Hopefully this post has left you with one new idea for how you can play your part? No one expects you to go from where you are today to zero waste instantly.
Every little bit counts!