Malcolm Bradbrook looks at what we can do to minimize our impact on the environment while still keeping fit.

New gadgets, new races, new shoes, new bikes, and more fill up our baskets online as we seek to keep up both in terms of speed and with the latest fashion. But there is plenty we can do and green living as a fitness fan falls into three categories; the events we choose, the kit we buy, and our behavior.

Buying Kit 

Establishing eco-credentials has become essential for all brands and different tactics are being used to reduce the impact on the environment. But the challenge to that has come in the form of the latest carbon-plated running shoes. The controversial Nike Vaporfly is reputed to only last 200 miles (most shoes last for up to 500 miles) and some other shoes only claim to be at their optimum for 50 miles.

Meanwhile, Salomon has announced a concept running shoe which can be returned to the company to be recycled into ski boots at the end of their use. ‘We recognize that we have to do better for the environment,’ explains Guillaume Meyzenq, Vice President of Salomon Footwear. ‘We are showing it is possible to find alternative materials to create performance footwear.

Planting a million trees

Pamela Barclay, Endura’s co-founder, says: ‘We would hate to look back and think we could have done something and didn’t. If we don’t stop climate change, we won’t have a world to clean up.’

Using Bamboo fibers

BAM uses bamboo fibers rather than cotton or more harmful products. Bamboo grows quickly and does not need to be replanted and uses less water than other plants while being cultivated.

Protecting the environment at races

A runner determined to change the mindset within endurance events is Windsor-based IT consultant Rima Chang. She has become a well-known figure in marathons and ultra-running as she completes events dragging tires weighing up to 10kg. Her running raises awareness of, and funds for, environmental issues around the world.

Rima says: ‘I hate the number of rubbish people throw away, so I focus on reducing disposable plastic. People are overwhelmed about the number of changes they have to make in order to be more sustainable. They prefer to divert the issues towards the government or pretend that it isn’t happening. I focus people on one achievable goal – reduce the use of disposable plastic.’

Reducing plastic bottle use

Organizers have reduced plastic bottle use from 200,000 four years ago to 70,000 now. They use cardboard cups for liquid energy drinks and recyclable plastic cups for water.

Last year Rima cycled from the UK to marathons in Geneva and Nice and her dedication wowed organizers to the extent that they vowed to go cupless in 2020. She adds: ‘The challenge with all big events can sometimes be sponsorship deals but some action is better than no action and I am hopeful that we will start seeing some big improvements soon. To all the runners out there I have one plea: leave no trace.’

How to be a green exerciser

  • Bring your own bottle and refill at race checkpoints.
  • Keep empty wrappers on you until you can dispose of them safely.
  • Try to avoid plastic or synthetic fibers in clothing like polyester, nylon, and acrylic
  • Make your kit last. Will that new top make you faster?



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