Your workout routine is an essential part of keeping your body healthy. But, as more people are beginning to realize, it’s important to keep our environment healthy as well. Ultimately, the well-being of our planet and the well-being of every human body are deeply interconnected, and that means it’s worth trying to improve the places where the two come together — like, for example, your workout.
By the team at Pela Case
Fortunately, it’s not hard to make your workout a little greener. By making a few simple tweaks in the right places, anyone can make sure that their fitness routine is aligned with the best practices of reducing waste products and choosing cleaner technologies. From reusable water bottles to compostable phone cases, here are seven ideas for a more sustainable fitness lifestyle.
- Make sure you’re leaving no trace.
Outdoor exercise is a great way to boost your mental and physical health, but you need to be sure that you’re being kind to the earth in the process. This is particularly important if your activities of choice are things like hiking, camping, kayaking or mountain biking, but it’s applicable for any sport in which you exercise outdoors.
In outdoor activities, you should follow the Leave No Trace principles, including:
- Avoid littering of any kind
- Only use established trails and campsites
- Protect food from wild animals
- Prepare and plan ahead for your trip
- Get rid of human waste the right way
- Follow all park regulations, especially fire rules
- Get a reusable water bottle.
Many of us seem to always have 20 half-full plastic water bottles rolling around our car or our home office. All of that plastic adds up, and the end result is things like a giant patch of garbage in the ocean. The alternative? A reusable water bottle.
Reusable bottles are available in all kinds of materials. Glass, stainless steel and BPA-free plastic are all popular options. They come in all shapes and sizes, too, so grab one that feels good in your hand and fits your lifestyle. Once you get used to having your reusable bottle with you, you’ll wonder how you ever went without one.
- Consider how much electricity your workout uses.
Unfortunately, a lot of the ways we work out are very electricity-hungry. Think of a 24-hour gym, lights on all the time, running dozens of machines at once. Or, think about how much your home treadmill or elliptical might be adding to your home’s power consumption levels.
We’re not here to tell you to become some kind of fitness Luddite, but the more you work out without a gym and without a machine, the more power you’ll conserve. If most of your exercise is machine-assisted, try some outdoor activities or bodyweight exercises to change things up a bit.
- Wear eco-friendly fitness gear.
Synthetic fibers like spandex and nylon are common in fitness gear. Unfortunately, these fibers take a long time to break down after they’re discarded, and that’s to say nothing of other plastics like those found in, say, your favorite athletic phone cases. But don’t worry — there are plenty of alternatives available!
For apparel, you’ve got your pick of sustainable activewear brands and sustainable footwear brands made from materials like organic cotton or post-consumer recycled plastic. And when it comes to athletic accessories, everything from your phone case to your AirPods case now has a sustainable alternative. (Did you ever think you’d see compostable Apple watch bands? Neither did we, but we’re glad they’re here!)
- Buy durable gear and resell it when you’re done with it.
Even if your fitness gear isn’t compostable or recyclable, there’s lots of ways to get rid of it other than throwing it away. If it’s still in usable condition, consider selling it to a secondhand store or donating it to charity next time you clean out your closet. Plenty of bargain hunters will buy gently used fitness gear, especially if it’s from a well-known brand.
Of course, that also reinforces the importance of choosing a quality piece of gear in the first place. Resist the urge to go for the $10 leggings that won’t last you a year and pick up something that’s actually comfortable and will hold up to repeated use. You’ll get more wear out of it and you’ll be able to sell it more easily when the time comes.
- Meal prep to cut calories and food waste.
Diet is one of the cornerstones of physical fitness, so much so that it could be considered another part of your workout. And one of the best ways to make your diet more beneficial and more consistent is by starting a meal prepping schedule. Here’s the great thing about meal prep: It also helps you waste less food.
Meal prep simplifies your shopping lists and your decisions about what to eat. That, in turn, helps make sure you’re getting everything out of your groceries that you’re paying for, and it prevents those unfortunate moments when you realize the broccoli went bad two days ago. And in a country where between 30 and 40 percent of the food supply goes to waste, that’s something that will benefit us all.
- Incorporate a more eco-friendly commute into your exercise routine.
Our daily commutes are a huge source of carbon emissions, so changing how you get to work is one of the fastest ways to make a significant reduction in your carbon footprint. If you can commute by bike, it’s an amazing choice for your health, although many U.S. cities unfortunately still don’t have the infrastructure to make biking safe and practical.
For folks in larger cities, taking public transit is a solid choice that also lets you forget about the stress of navigating traffic. Carpooling on alternate days, meanwhile, can be a good way to bond with coworkers. And even if you can only switch up your commute a few days a week, the amount of emissions you cut by taking one more car off the road for a day is significant.