So we all know running can mean a lot of... stuff. Shoes, gels, clothes, travel, etc and well sometimes I feel guilty about all the waste I generate from my extracurricular activity.
Here are a few ways I do a little bit to help follow the three R's, reduce, reuse, recycle.
1. Buy Drink Mix In Bulk
Many times we have a decision when buying drink mixes. We can either buy single serving packets or buy it in a tub with multiple servings. While the single serving packets make it easy to grab it and go, I'd urge you to try out the larger size. It will reduce the waste you generate and if you need to take some with you, you can still put it in a small plastic bag. Mixes like Nuun are great because they are tablets!
2. Recycle Your Shoes
At your local running store you've probably seen a big bin of worn out shoes. No this is not the return pile these are donations! There are a few groups, like Soles4Souls and OneWorldRunning, that you can mail to too! So save up some old shoes, put them in a flat rate box and give them a second life!
3. Upcycle Your Bibs and Race Shirts
We all love races, but you always end up stock piling a lot of stuff. Race shirts accumulate, bibs get forgotten, and other goodies get eaten or forgotten. Why not upcycle these things instead? Your bibs can get turned into awesome bags by Bibs2Bags or into coasters. Your shirts can turn into totes, quilts, or into all these fun things!
4. Shop Smart
When you can, look for products made by companies dedicated to the environment. Is their product sustainable? Is their company dedicated to philanthropic work? Look for companies who are trying to do a better job. Did you know back in 2013 the energy needed to produce one pair of Asics gel Kayanos was equivalent to leaving a 100-watt lightbulb on for a week? Did you know many soles and mid-soles are made from ethylene vinyl acetate which leaves behind many nasty bi-products? Where you can, try to make small changes that help the environment.
5. Care For Gear to Make it Last
My next tip is to care for your gear so you aren't churning through gear at a high rate. Make sure to read care instructions for your clothes and gear to help them last. Make sure to let your shoes dry out between runs to help the material last longer. Make sure to run with the right shoes on the right surface to keep the sole strong. By making our gear last it helps to slow down the cycle of "stuff" and also keeps some dollars in your pocket!
6. Run Local!
Look for races and running routes close to home and cut out the drive. If you are driving further for a race, try to carpool and save a tree!
7. Don't Be Afraid to Say No to Swag!
A lot of the time it turns into a game of "home much free $hit can I get at an expo or race". But for every magnet, coupon or sticker you grab that means one more thing that ends up in a landfill (assuming they can use their stuff from race to race). Instead take only what you are interested in and if you just want a reminder, snap a pic of it and hand it back to them. Let's be honest you'd probably lose that postcard anyways.
8. Unplug Everything!
Have you heard of "vampire power"? Basically even if you aren't plugged in and charging, your charger or device is still drawing power from the outlet. Unplug it if you aren't using it!
9. Run Simple Errands!
Do you have a Redbox disc to return? Or maybe a postcard to mail? Or something small to drop-off at a friend's house? Take it on your run! You can run an errand and get your workout in and you'll save the gas you would've used making that errand!
10. Use CharityMiles and Give Back!
Apps like Charity Miles can turn your miles into donations to worthy charities like those fighting climate change. Turn it on while you are running or walking and give back!