Driving to the gym in your kaleidoscope-patterned leggings, getting your sweat on in spin class and grabbing a takeaway smoothie can leave you dizzy with endorphins – but it’s not so good for the planet.
Easy swaps for extra petrol, clothes made from unsustainable materials and single use plastic are quick fire ways to make your workout an eco one, however.
“Why not fuse looking after your health with looking after the health of the planet? You can help the environment and help yourself at the same time,” says Paul Crane, founder of the Lancing and Brighton-based, Green Circle-accredited Eco Gym.
Try these ideas to make your exercise environmentally-friendly.
1. Try a beach clean
Combine an evening walk or jog with clearing up our plastic-strangled coastlines – you just need gloves to protect your hands and some sort of bag to drop the litter into. Groups like Surfers Against Sewage (who Eco Gym are corporate partners of) and The Marine Conservation Society host regular litter picks all over over the country, and you can organise your own, too.
“These are great. You can team up with a group of volunteers and get to feel like a part of your community, part of something good, as well as doing lots of movement from bending down to pick,” Crane says.
2. Choose sustainable workout gear
There’s been a boom in brands creating cool workout gear from sustainable materials and dyes, as well as by people being paid a living wage and working in good conditions. FROM Clothing, Adrenna and Sundried are doing interesting things – with the latter even crafting yarn from plastic bottles and coffee grounds that would otherwise end up in land fill.
“The clothing industry is evolving to meet environmental requests from customers,” Crane says. “Items made from 100% organic cotton, for example, and trainers with natural rubber soles are becoming ever more popular.”
3. Grab a reusable bottle
A no-brainer. Eliminating single use plastic from your workout routine is a meaningful step that also justifies buying one of the slick new styles out there right now, from One Green Bottle to S’well.
“If you do end up with a plastic bottle, just make sure you take it home and recycle it properly, rather than it going in the bin,” Crane says.
4. Make sure your mat is eco
If you’re doing yoga videos in your living room, you’ll want a mat. While you can reclaim old ones by reconditioning them, as Crane has done in the past, you can also buy one new that’s made from sustainable materials like cork and natural rubber.
“These are also free of any toxic plastics,” he says. Plus, they’ll ultimately biodegrade.
5. Be mindful about your transport
We’ve all revved up the car or jumped on the bus to save precious minutes when we could just walk, but it’s worth factoring in the extra time to avoid making our carbon footprint bigger.
“If you go out to the gym or a class, try to walk or cycle there,” says Crane. As well as saving on petrol, you’re getting a brisk warm-up in before you even enter the building.
6. Prep ahead
Nothing makes you feel like a winner more than getting in a swim before work starts. But if you follow that up with a (plastic) pot of bircher muesli eaten with a (plastic) disposable spoon, it rather takes the shine off.
“Try to make your smoothie or oats at home, and bring them in a flask or Tupperware,”Crane advises. “Organisation and prep are vital to living more sustainably – get it out of the way the night before, so tomorrow you’re all set.”