Six Ways to Clean Up Your Running

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.

Share Equip­ment
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.

Con­tact Companies
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!