Being a runner, or any athlete can produce a lot of waste. Below are 5 tips to better care for the environment and help combat climate change.

We’ve had a hell of a summer (and spring) over here in Australia, with bushfires raging since September last year and it’s really put climate change to the forefront of many people’s minds, including mine. I started thinking about my impact on the environment and how I can further reduce this. Before we had Darcy, we made the commitment to use modern cloth nappies which we thought about with Matilda but put in the too hard basket. We’re vegetarian, closely bordering on vegan as much as we can, we recycle our soft plastics etc etc but there’s still so much more we can do.

I began to look at other aspects of my life and the waste and it really hit me how much is running related. I go through running shoes quite frequently given the miles I do and I don’t recycle these. I seem to just collect them as I don’t have the heart to throw them away. I started to think about what I could do as an athlete to reduce my impact on the environment and minimise my waste. I put the call out on my Instagram last week to ask how people care for the environment as runners and I had some great responses which I have included below.

  1. Take 3 for the sea or trail or anywhere! – this is such a simple, amazing initiative. Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere, and you have made a difference. The standard we move past is the standard we accept. When I am out walking or running with Darcy, I fill the bottom of the pram up with rubbish. It’s crazy to think how much rubbish is out there – but at least we have stopped some of it going into waterways etc and some of the things we pick up we’ve also recycled.
  2. Make your own gels and sports drinks – gels and sports drinks are wrapped in plastic and used once then the packaging is discarded. I think this is one of the easiest swaps you can make. In my first triathlon, I ate dates and peanut butter and it worked a treat. I also used coconut water for my hydration. There’s a bunch of recipes here, here and here to make your own gels. If you try them, let me know how you go! I’ll definitely be giving some of these a go for Nate to use in his UTA100 race and training. A simple recipe for DIY electrolyte drinks can be found here.
  3. Purchase good quality, natural fibres to train in – so my lovely insta friend Amanda got me on to this. She swears by her merino running singlets over synthetic fibres and has even tested this theory wearing her merino singlet running seven times and roughly 60kms before washing it. There is NO WAY any of my synthetic running tops would last that long. I know I am guilty of this and am really trying to make more of an effort to purchase second hand and natural fibres where ever possible.
  4. Recycle your old clothes and shoes – as I said before, I have a collection of old running shoes that I just haven’t had the heart to throw away. If you have shoes that are in good condition and not worn out you can donate them to Shoes for Planet Earth. Shoes For Planet Earth is a non-profit organisation that works with local and international communities and companies to provide reused running shoes to those in need around the world. They have drop-off locations in NSW, VIC and QLD.  The Australian Sporting Goods Association recently launched the Save our Soles campaign in Victoria. The idea is to extract reusable components of shoes and manufacture them into new products such as gym mats, floors and playgrounds. At this stage, the pilot program is only in Victoria, but hopefully it gets rolled out across the rest of Australia soon. Brands such as H&M, Zara and Manrags will take your old clothing and recycle it for you. Bonus, it doesn’t have to be their brand of clothing. It’s also important to note here, that while recycling is a good option for clothing and shoes you already own, an even better solution is reducing your consumption of goods, period.
  5. Commute run or ride – Again, this is another easy swap. Again, you don’t have to be perfect, but could you swap one drive to work with a run or ride day. There’s nothing like a run getting you from point A to point B. I find this one of the easiest ways to get in a longer run. We’re going to try this when I get back to work. To start, all of us will head in to work and school together, and Nate will run home. While it’s not reducing our number of trips in the car to and from work, it is reducing car trips to places to then run.

This list is by no means exhaustive, it should be a starting point. If I have missed anything, please add it in the comments below! Also, remember, we don’t need to be perfect, but it’s important to look at ways we can improve on what we’re doing.

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