Running is an inherently environmentally friendly endeavor, given that the only requirements are a pair of running shoes and the motivation to get out the door. Despite already being “green,” there are numerous ways that runners can further reduce their carbon footprints. Listed below are tips for greening your run.
Recycling is obviously a top priority for environmentally conscious consumers everywhere. Plastic water bottles, energy bar wrappers, and shoe boxes should all be properly recycled, if possible. However, did you know that running shoes are recyclable, too? Most local running stores offer shoe recycling receptacles, and some will even provide a discount for people who bring in worn out running shoes.
One of the most important tenets of being “green” is shopping locally. Not only does purchasing from local vendors keep money within your community, but it also reduces the energy required to ship items cross country. If possible, look for items that are made locally, as well.
Many running-related items are made from materials that are difficult to recycle or undergo energy intensive processes during manufacturing. For instance, a frozen water bottle can double as a foam roller, while a used golf ball works wonders for relieving muscle tightness. Copy-cat recipes exist online for many sports nutrition products, as well. Besides being environmentally friendly, making your own products helps save money, too!
Shop in Bulk
When buying staple items, such as nutrition, socks, running shoes, sports bras, or other gear you are sure to use multiple times, consider buying the items in bulk. In some instances, bulk purchases can help you save money (i.e. powdered sports drink mix vs. bottles of sports drink), but they also drive down the amount of energy spent on shipping and transportation. Planning your bulk shopping trips around changes in seasons (such as in the spring and fall) is ideal, since most stores will have inventory-clearing sales during these times.
Before throwing away running clothes that you no longer wear, consider donating them to someone who can use them. Even if the thought of another person wearing your sweaty running clothes is not appealing, bear in mind that many running clubs exist for homeless people who are seeking to learn a valuable life skill that ultimately can help them get back on their feet. Organizations such as these often appreciate donations ranging from gently worn running shoes and socks to running clothes of all kinds.
Like shopping locally, racing locally has a number of environmentally friendly advantages. For instance, local races put resources back into the community, especially if a charitable component is involved. Less travel is involved, which in turn uses less energy. When traveling to a local race, look into ride share options or public transportation. Besides cutting down on fuel emissions, car pooling can be a fun way to meet new people. Plus, sharing post-race stories with others is far more fun than driving home alone.