Sustainable Running – The Footprint We Should Think About
We all want to help the planet, and sometimes turning off the lights and recycling our food packaging just doesn’t seem enough. That’s because there’s plenty that runners can do to make their running more sustainable. Whilst a proportion of the responsibility does fall within the hands of corporations and businesses, there’s something we can do as individuals.
One thing to remember with our suggestions is that you don’t have to do all of them. Sometimes – for practical reasons – running your commute, swapping out your single-use gels, or keeping your old and battered trainers isn’t possible… and that’s okay! Let’s all do what we can as individuals to promote sustainable running.
Sustainable Running – create less waste
Recycle old trainers
Around 300 million pairs of running shoes are thrown into landfills each year in the UK. They aren’t easy to recycle due to the mix of materials used in such shoes. However, do not fear! There are multiple schemes in the UK that can help you dispose of your trainers in an eco-friendlier way.
– Runners Need offers a Recycle My Run scheme, turning shredded trainers into Astroturf or athletics track.
– Adidas’ Infinite Play scheme allows you to trade in your Adidas clothes and shoes via the app so that they can be reused.
– ReRun donates running shoes, clothes and equipment to homeless and refugee projects, or resold online with the profits sent straight back into the running communities.
Get a reusable water bottle
By far one of the easiest ways to choose sustainable running is to ditch single-use plastic bottles and opt for a reusable water bottle instead. Single-use plastic is a significant contributor to the global plastic pollution we are experiencing.
By choosing a reusable water bottle, you could save 156 plastic bottles from polluting the environment each year. Now’s the time to make this easy and practical swap to work towards sustainable running!
Sustainable Running – choose more sustainable kit.
We get it. We know that feeling of getting new kit can be irresistible sometimes. We feel it too! However, textiles and the waste that is produced during their manufacturing are one of the planet’s biggest polluters.
According to UNCTAD (UN Conference on Trade and Development), about half a million tons of microfibre pollute the ocean every year. The fashion industry also releases more CO2 into the atmosphere than all international flights and maritime shipping put together. That’s why choosing more sustainable running kit is so important.
Here are 3 examples of current running kit options that you could go for:
- Brooks’ Ghost 14 running shoes are carbon neutral, after manufacturing the top of the shoe from at least 30% recycled material.
- Patagonia have designed women’s shorts that are over 90% recycled polyester as well as lightweight and stretchy.
- When it comes to sports bras, Girlfriend Collective are known for their inclusive size range, but they are also heavily invested in their bit to promote sustainable running. Their bras are made from the equivalent of 12 recycled water bottles. This offsets the production costs by 8.83 pounds of CO2 emissions and saves 48 gallons of water.
- Sundried’s technical sports gear is made from recycled plastic and coffee grounds. Their manufacturing process produced low levels of carbon emissions and sone of their t-shirts are biodegradable.
Sustainable Running – reduce the environmental impact of racing.
- Race locally
- Racing locally can help reduce your carbon footprint. Whether that be reducing the distance your race number is posted or your travel to and from the event, it all helps.
- Event organisers are becoming better at making changes to the way they run their events, off-setting carbon emissions to reduce their impact on the environment. So if you do choose to enter a race further afield, why not aim for an organiser that makes that effort.
- The Paris Marathon was the first to organise a complete carbon-neutral marathon. This was achieved by their recycling of lost property kit, donations of unused aid station food to a food bank, using electric support vehicles on race day, and planting 140,000 trees.
Upcycle your old race shirts.
- Many events are still providing race t-shirts as a reminder of your great achievements. Although, if you’ve entered a few races over the years you’ll soon rack up a huge pile of them!
- If you have more than enough, why not donate them to a charity shop, or recycle them at a textile-specific recycling point to help keep them out of the £140 million worth of clothes that end up in landfills every year. The synthetic fabrics that make up many technical t-shirts might be great for not showing sweat patches, but they’re not so good at being biodegradable.
Choose to plant a tree
Race organisers are beginning to offer the choice of planting a tree instead of receiving a race t-shirt. So, if you really do have enough running t-shirts, why not opt for this instead!
Swap out your gels
- If you’ve ever hung around at the end of an event or volunteered at one, you’ll be aware of how much plastic and waste is left over – from water station cups to empty gel packets.
- You might use gels for your long runs or races, and although they are very practical in terms of their carriable size and their carbohydrate values, the single-use plastic is not eco-friendly. Instead, it might be better to choose powders or tables that you mix in a water bottle. Sometimes this even saves you money!
Sustainable Running – habits within your daily life
- Run your commute and your errands
- Whilst not possible for some, running (or cycling!) your commute will do more than reduce your carbon footprint! It will start your day off with an endorphin-producing run, proven by multiple studies to help increase your concentration, motivation and productivity.
When it comes to errands why not take the same approach? Running, walking or cycling to post that letter, pick up that pint of milk or pick up the kids from their playdate can make the world of difference.
As Tesco likes to say, ‘Every Little Helps’ and if you can integrate these little changes into your running life, the difference will be anything but little… it’ll be significant.