Once upon a time, running was the lowest maintenance sport ever—all you needed were your feet, the ground, and forward motion. Eventually, shoes created just for running appeared. Then clothes. And gear. And organized races to use all this stuff at. As running’s popularity grew, so did its contribution to global waste. There doesn’t have to be a big ‘ol guilt trip following you around on the trails, however. There are ways to actively reduce your ecological running footprint (high five for awesome puns!) and keep this planet healthy and beautiful, so we can keep exploring it.
Donate Your Running Shoes
There are a variety of charities who take used running shoes and do everything from giving them to others to wear globally (One World Running) or within the U.S. (Soles4Souls), to recycling the rubber from them into sports courts and playgrounds (Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe Program). Give your local shoe store a jingle to find out if your town has a local shoe recycling group and where the nearest drop-off center is. Many running stores will let you drop your used shoes with them, as they already participate with a group or charity.
Sign up for Zero Waste Events
Actions are loud, and race directors are listening. Read those race descriptions to ensure the event you pick is dedicated to creating as little waste as possible. A lot of runs are moving toward the Zero Waste movement and no longer provide single-use plastic or paper cups at aid stations. Runners are advised to bring their own water bottles and preferred nutrition. Be sure to properly dispose of those wrappers too, as most runs will disqualify a litterbug.
Recycle Those Wrappers!
We haven’t reached a point, unfortunately, where recycling the wrappers and squeeze pouches that our running nutrition comes in is as easy as tossing it in the blue bin on the curb, but with minimal effort, there IS a way to responsibly dispose of these materials. The terrific company Terracycle will take it off your hands and recycle it for free. They even provide the box to ship the wrappers in, as well as pay for the shipping. All you have to do is collect your wrappers and care a little bit. Easy enough, right?
Buy From Earth Conscious Companies
Put your money where your heart is and make a point to read a company’s mission statement, history, and description of their facility and practices to ensure that your money is going to those companies making the most effort to reduce their overall waste contribution and who make decisions based on sustainability for our planet.
We’re not asking you to share sport bras or anything, but sharing some of the more durable, less intimate, equipment helps both your wallet and the planet—everyone wins! Solid ideas for easily sharable equipment between families or friends include poles, hydration belts, vests, or bottles, and sport watches.
Let the companies who sponsor your fun know that reducing waste and having more environmentally friendly gear is important to you by writing, emailing, or calling them. One voice alone is just a ripple, but the voice of many can cause a wave of action.
Now go out there and have some nice clean fun!