So, we’re not professionals in the gym. Our forte is running (it’s free, low-waste, you can be at one with nature, all that jazz). In the past year though, we’ve made an effort to expand our horizons in the workout world and set foot in an actual real-life gym. This means disposable gym wipes, water bottles, protein powders and new workout gear. Doesn’t seem very sustainable, which would bother any self-respecting Green Freak, so here are a few tips to make your sweat-sesh as eco-friendly as possible:
Check the Sustainability on your Activewear
You can’t just pick out a piece of clothing, and know right off the bat that it’s sustainable (even if the store displays its eco-friendliness in big gold non-sustainable letters). For some brands, sustainability is at the core of their ethos. For others, it’s simply a marketing tactic. A study by the Center for Sustainable business showed that in over 90% of individual product categories, products marketed as “sustainable” outperformed their less pro-planet counterparts, so in a nutshell, sustainability = sales. The bad news is, it can be difficult to determine which brands are actually conscious vs. which are greenwashing, so if you’re going to buy first-hand clothes (remember, your current wardrobe, and thrifting is always #1), here are a few tips to ensure sustainable selections:
- Research the brand! Good on You makes it simple to do sustainability research. The app grades brands based on a number of factors to determine how truly “ethical” they are. It’s surprising (and rather unsettling) how many brands that appear to be focused on our good old friend Mama Earth, can’t hold up when truly put to the test by Good on You.
- Take a look at the brand’s mission statement. Many will mention SOMETHING about sustainability. You want to look for specificity here. If a company has a general blanket statement about its ethics, that’s a red flag. Brands that truly value transparency, will be just that: transparent. They’ll tell you where they’re succeeding, where they have room for improvement and what their goals are. A good is example is Outdoor Voices (we rocked their leggings in our latest gym excursion). Their mission statement acknowledges they’re not fully there yet, but they are making visible progress and striving to keep their process ethical from start to finish
- Pay attention to the materials used. For example, Girlfriend has activewear made from plastic water bottles. They even sell a laundry bag for your clothes, which stops microfibers from entering the water streams in the wash (more information on microfibers here). OMGI has yoga mats from recycled rubber & corks, but remember, if you already have a yoga mat (even if it’s made of plastic) keep using it! Throwing it away for a new one is the opposite of eco-friendly.
BYO Gym Rag
Instead of wiping down the equipment with the gym’s single use wipes, just don’t clean it! Kidding, that’s gross and how germs are spread, but maybe bring your own designated gym rag? Wet wipes are terrible for the environment, recently scientists found that “fatbergs” (large masses found in the sewage system) are made up of them. Everything about that, even the word, sounds disgusting (learn more about fatbergs here). You can easily use one you have from home, or tear a piece off of an old T-Shirt. If you’d prefer single-use and to not carry a rag around, Go! Towel has some compact bamboo disposable ones.
BYO Water Bottle
Don’t forget that water bottle. Have spares at work, in your bag / purse or use one from that one cupboard at home that’s accumulated millions of free water bottles over the years. Of course if you managed to somehow make it this far in life without a single reusable water bottle laying around, then you have our permission to purchase one. We’d recommend Miir, they have a great mission to help people around the world secure access to clean water / healthy environments.
BYO protein / recovery drink (if it’s a powder, it’ll be super easy to fill it up with water at the gym). This way you don’t have to fight the urge to buy one in a plastic cup with a plastic straw (added bonus, you save money)! If you don’t have a go-to, I would recommend any plant based protein (usually made with pea protein) like this one from Amazing Grass. It comes in a plastic container, and we WERE going to complain about it, but instead, we thought back to our resolution “Minimize the complaining, maximize the creating” so maybe we’ll write a letter to the company with some ideas to fix that issue instead.
If you see something at your gym that can easily be replaced with reusables, suggest it! The worst that happens is they explain why it’s not in the cards for them at the moment and you take it extremely personal and never go back (not speaking from experience or anything). Honestly though, don’t take it personal, your job is not to control it’s to inspire.
If you feel like a gym is too wasteful in all meanings of the word ($$ & enviro) get some small long lasting workout gear for your home! There are so many youtubers / instagrammers with extremely helpful work-out videos. The basics you’ll want are a yoga mat, a small set of weights, and maybe some resistance bands (great for mobility work).
All in all, your time at the gym should take away stress not add it. So think about these things and gradually make the changes that work for you. Even we’re not 100% there yet, so please share any other tips you may have in the comments!