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5 ways to make your next run more sustainable

In partnership with Runners Need

Posted by for Health

From recycling your old kit to carbon neutral races, here’s how to make your run routine a bit more ‘green’…

When it comes to old sports gear, we think it’s fair to say that many of us tend to stash the tattiest items at the very back of the wardrobe. 

Only ever useful for running in awful weather or when you’ve forgotten to do a bulk load of gym laundry, this ‘back-up’ kit often just hangs around like a literal bad smell until you’re ready to do something proactive about it. Sound familiar? You aren’t alone.

Research has shown that two fifths of runners hoard their old kit ‘just in case’ (62% have kit they never wear sitting at the back of the wardrobe), while 15% tend to just throw it in the bin*. However, with many of us becoming more conscious when it comes to getting rid of old clothes – and avoiding them becoming landfill – thinking about sustainable options when it comes to recycling or repurposing old kit is a step in the right direction. 

And this line of thinking can apply to all areas of our running routine, from the brands we buy to the races we enter. 

With this in mind, here are five ways you can make your next run more sustainable and planet-friendly…

  • 1. Combine running with community work

    Look for running clubs or events that combine exercise with community initiatives such as litter picking and planting trees. GoodGym is a good place to start. 

    Runners get together at their local meet-up point, drop their bags, then run to whichever task they happen to be completing that evening. Not only do you get to exercise with new and likeminded people, but each session is around 90 minutes door-to-door (so perfect for a post-office decompress). 

    There is also the Swedish trend of ‘plogging’ which combines jogging with litter picking in local areas, including parks, woodland and beaches. Simply search online for a plogging event near you or why not organise your own.

  • 2. Recycle recycle recycle

    Yes, you can recycle your old kit. Specialist shops like Runners Need have created a Recycle My Run service that allows runners to bring in their old running shoes to be recycled. Old shoes are then graded, with the better-quality items distributed to countries that may need them. 

    Clothes can also be brought in for recycling as part of the brand’s Recycle My Gear initiative. The aim is to recycle around five tons of old kit per year, shredding it into tiny pieces so that metals, textiles, rubbers, leathers and foams can all be extracted and repurposed to make other useful items, including new running gear.

  • 3. Choose carbon neutral races and events

    There’s nothing worse than seeing the waste left over after a race. Between plastic bottles and discarded gel packs, the rubbish generated by races and events can not only impact the environment but the local community as well. 

    Look for environmentally-friendly events that are trying to reduce their carbon footprint by using things such as compostable cups at designated water stations. 

    The London Marathon or the Royal Parks Half are both great examples of races trying to be more planet-friendly, boasting edible-seaweed energy-drink capsules, recycled bottle belts and reusable caps to try and minimise landfill waste.

  • 4. Do your brand research and think sustainably

    Doing your research ahead of time means you’ll already have a good idea about a brand’s sustainability credentials before you start shopping. Opt for gear made from recycled polyester, recycled plastic and fabrics such as Tencel (which is made from wood pulp). 

    When training, use a reusable bottle and make your own energy snacks to help reduce plastic waste. 

    Luckily, high street fitness brands are starting to place more importance on eco-friendly kit as an option for shoppers, with stores like Runners Need boasting a hand-picked range of sustainably-made clothing, shoes and accessories, together with a selection of sustainable items to shop online

  • 5. Be laundry savvy

    It’s common knowledge that washing fabrics on a cooler temperature is better for the enviroment, but because we tend to wash our running gear more than other garments, there are a few hacks to help keep the laundry routine a bit more eco-friendly. 

    Base layers made from bamboo won’t need to be washed as often, as the natural fibres absorb sweat rather than it sitting on your clothes, making it less of a breeding ground for smelly bacteria. 

    Also, there are washing bags out there designed specifically for synthetic clothes (such as high-performance gear) to help reduce the amount of ocean-harming microplastics and microfibres released during a standard laundry cycle.

Now in its 40th year, specialist running retailer Runners Need understands the importance of caring for the planet and ensuring kit doesn’t end up in landfill when it’s no longer in use. To find out more about their recycling initiatives and to shop their range of sustainable gear, visit runnersneed.com

* Survey of 1,005 runners carried out by Runners Need

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