Happy Earth Day, Spartans! Our planet is in serious need of a little TLC, and we as humanity desperately need to change our emission and consumption habits that contribute to environmental issues like climate change. As a result, many (smart, conscientious) people are adopting a more eco friendly lifestyle—and your fitness routine is no exception. In honor of Earth Day on Monday, April 22, here are a few of the best ways — from training to racing — to decrease your carbon footprint, adopt more sustainable fitness habits, and help out Mother Nature in the process. Consider it a win-win for all.
Eco Friendly Tip #1: Pack It In, Pack It Out
It should go without saying, but clean up your garbage as you go. You may not litter, but you probably see other runners who do (or their aftermath). We’ve all been out on beautiful hikes or trail runs enjoying nature only to stumble over a soda can, bag of dog poop, or other garbage in the woods. Yeah, it’s disgusting. There’s no excuse.
Be hyper-vigilant that you’re carrying any waste you generate out of the woods to the appropriate place. If you plan to eat electrolyte gummies during your training, pocket the wrapper. If you must drink out of plastic bottles, recycle them. As an added bonus, make it a habit to grab a piece of trash, even if it’s not yours (the Swedes call this “plogging,” a mash-up of jogging and the term “plocka upp,” meaning pick up). You could also organize a trail clean-up with your running group. And while everyone wants to race (we know, we know!), consider sitting one Spartan out in favor of volunteering at a water station to ensure all of the paper cups and debris get cleaned up.
Eco Friendly Tip #2: Carpool
Riding together to your Spartan Races, or gyms and trailheads during training is one of the easiest ways to reduce your eco-footprint. Decreasing the number of vehicles on the road automatically drops carbon emissions, which pollutes the oxygen we breathe.
The good news? You don’t need a car OR a lot of Spartan friends to find a ride. Even if you’re racing or training solo, car share companies like Enterprise CarShare and Getaround allow you to link up with others going in the same direction. Not only does carpooling cut down on parking headaches, but sharing a ride ensures everyone arrives on time, with enough leeway for a proper warm up.
Eco Friendly Tip #3: Use a Reusable Bottle
It’s tempting to rely on plastic bottled water when it’s available, you’re fatigued or thirsty, and you have no other option. (And you should never skimp on hydration!) But if you can prioritize a BPA-free reusable water bottle for your recovery drinks, do it. Every person who uses a reusable water bottle prevents over 156 plastic water bottles from ending up in a landfill or ocean, annually, according to EarthDay.org. Even crazier: Humans buy an average of 1,000,000 plastic bottles of water per minute, and Americans only recycle about 23 percent of what we consume. Do the right thing and ditch plastic wherever and whenever possible. And tell your friends.
Eco Friendly Tip #4: Buy Eco-Friendly Apparel & Gear
From sunglasses to super-technical baselayers, every product you buy has an environmental and social footprint. By understanding how brands try to minimize that impact and produce sustainable gear, you can become a savvy, eco-friendly consumer. Make a different with your dollars. Purchase from companies like Patagonia and Ice Breaker, which have give-back programs that use proceeds to help clean up land and water, support local farmers, and raise awareness for the environment. Look for products like the Adidas Ultraboost X Parley training shoes, which are made from plastic water bottles from the ocean (about 11 bottles per pair). With the vast athletic gear market and some easy online research, you can quickly find eco-friendly products to sustain your training and racing.
Eco Friendly Tip #5: Recycle Old Running Shoes
If you’re training a lot (which is a good thing) you’re also ripping through shoes (which can be a bad thing, if you don’t dispose of them responsibly)—runners need new sneakers every 400-500 miles to avoid common (and painful) injuries like IT band irritation, shin splints, and Achilles inflammation. Throw your shoes in the garbage and they end up in a landfill to decompose for… well… decades and decades. Instead, find a local retailer who has a program for recycling (or even re-using) old shoes. Or donate them, and feel good about it, in one of the following two ways:
IF THEY’RE SHOT: Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program accepts old shoes to grind down the soles into material used to build new turf fields and playgrounds. You can donate them locally and know your beloved friends are being put to use in a good second life.
IF THEY STILL HAVE MILES IN THEM: One World Running takes your old shoes and donates them to runners around the world who can’t afford new shoes, or who need a sturdy, reliable pair for everyday life. Level-up your training gear by sharing the love with others.