Working out doesn’t have to be bad for the environment – use these simple tips to transition your workouts to green alternatives that won’t sacrifice your physical results.
The fitness industry is booming as people become ever more health-conscious, resulting in 80 billion dollars of revenue annually.
Alongside fitness, we’ve simultaneously become more aware of consumerism’s negative impact on the environment. We’re all working a little harder to reduce our carbon footprint, and that can extend to your fitness routine, too.
Follow our tips below to make your workout routine that’s better for your body and the environment.
#1: Cut down on equipment.
At its core, exercise requires no equipment at all – just ask our ancient ancestors, who unknowingly invented function fitness by walking, running, jumping, swimming, and lifting heavy objects with purpose.
You can build an explosive workout routine without any equipment at all and some simple calisthenics. If you like to use equipment in your workouts, be selective about what you choose to add to your home gym.
You can forego the weights altogether and use resistance bands for weight training, which are small, compact, and produced using fewer resources than traditional weights. They’re multi-functional so that you can use a band to workout any body part. Here’s our favorite set for full-body training:
#2: Invest in a few staples for your workout wardrobe.
Trendy, inexpensive workout clothes can be tempting – who hasn’t had a flashy Instagram ad catch their eye promising the best leggings ever for 1/4 the price of most other brands?
While these pieces sometimes look great, you indeed get what you pay for when it comes to workout clothes.
Our workout pieces take the hardest beating of all. Inexpensive clothing is made of cheaper, less durable material and usually not well-sewn or reinforced, so it doesn’t last long with regular use.
Better-made products are more expensive up front, but some will last years and years. Invest in a few well-made pieces and keep the cheap stuff out of the landfill. Pick timeless colors and styles so that you only need a few articles for countless outfit options.
#3: Get some fresh air.
Step outside to workout and remove the need for any equipment or the carbon emissions of a gym. You can head outside for a run, walk, or bike in your neighborhood or along a local trail.
A local park or backyard makes the perfect setting for some yoga or calisthenics. Studies show that getting out into nature has a calming effect on our blood pressure and stress levels, so you’ll be doing doubly-good for your body by breaking a sweat outdoors.
#4: Recycle, reduce, reuse old gear.
Consider getting some workout gear second hand. Check out local second-hand stores and digital buy and sells to find workout clothes and equipment in like-new conditions. I’ve even found expensive brand name workout clothes with tags still on them that have never been worn. You’ll save a ton of money while giving an item a second life.
Some workout clothes and gear gets so much wear they’re no longer usable or suitable for donation. Nike has a unique recycling program that turns old, worn-out shoes into playground equipment. Patagonia has a similar program for their clothing; if you can’t recycle your clothes, consider cutting them into cleaning rags.
#5: Ditch the plastic bottles.
Plastic bottles can not only leach harmful BPA into their contents, but they are the cause of an astronomical amount of plastic waste. These flimsy bottles break down and contribute to the growing mass of microplastics that pollute our waterways.
Buy a reusable bottle to reduce your plastic use but still have water conveniently at the ready during your workout. Invest in a stainless steel or thick, BPA-free plastic bottle that will last for years to come and help to keep microplastics out of the oceans.
Final notes: Eco-Friendly Fitness Routine
It’s easy to build an eco-friendly workout routine that keeps your carbon footprint to a minimum.
Don’t fall for the marketing and buy into the newest bells and whistles in the fitness world – these businesses just want to entice people to buy as many of their products as they can. Consider carefully whether you want or need a piece of equipment and weigh the financial and environmental costs vs. the payoff for you.
To reduce your workout routine’s carbon footprint, try:
- Use minimal equipment, and buy second hand where you can;
- Avoid cheap workout clothes, and invest in more durable pieces instead;
- Head outside to fit in a workout;
- Donate, sell, and recycle your worn-out workout gear, or repurpose them;
- And stop using one-use plastic water bottles.
The truth is, all you need to get in a good workout are a few minimal pieces of equipment and some well-made clothing.