I get it. Self-improvement blog posts are somewhat nauseating at the best of times. But now, over a week into our third national lockdown and we still haven’t learned how to do the splits, another How-To article might just be too much.
So why my post then, hmm?
Because, a day of worry is more tiring than a day of work. I know that so many of you are restless with wanting to contribute more to the wellbeing of our neighbours, key workers and vulnerable communities. And doing good for the environment directly equates to doing good for society, even in the very short term. Even in lockdown.
Also, by virtue of you being a RunThrough runner, I know that your tenacity, creativity and awareness of our natural world will make your development into a more environmentally-minded individual genuinely exciting and quite effortless. You already spend a fair bit of time in nature, so you know how much jogging amongst the trees and sprinting up hills can boost our moods and mental health. It’s very much in our interest to safeguard this, and mitigate the impact that humans are having on the environment.
Below I’ve listed 5 ways you can grow into being a more eco-friendly runner. But broadly, the message is very simple: think about the resources you have, the resources you use, and the resources you could save.
Discover the After Life
The trainers you’ve just replaced, the running watch you no longer need because you got a new one for Christmas, the favourite workout t-shirt that’s now looking a bit sad (maybe a bit smelly too). They are not destined for landfill quite yet! They all have more life in them after their heyday with you.
The test I use on items I’m falling out of love with is: “Could I, or anyone else, get some more use out of this?”
For example, perhaps after a little scrubbing, are your trainers or watch decent enough to sell online or donate to a charity shop (TRAID charity offers free home collections)? So much of our community is harking after affordable workout equipment at the moment, so offering yours up could be a real blessing to another.
If your gear isn’t cut out for its current role anymore, ‘downcycling’ is always an option (often requiring some solid imagination). Could you still use your old trainers as muddy gardening/ painting shoes? Could your super old clothes be cut up and used to clean your bike or floors?
For items that still don’t seem useful, I then look to my local recycling facilities (or running shops e.g. Runners Need – they recycle trainers).
In the first place though, it’s about seeing that these items’ heyday is ultimately as long as possible. Buying great-quality items and caring for them properly. If they break, think “repair” before “replace”.
Be Curious about Your Packaging
Are your groceries, training gear (gels, bars, hydration, trainers), clothes and home products packaged in heaps of plastic films, wrappers and polystyrene?
It’s sad to think that the overwhelming majority of (unnecessary) packaging isn’t widely recycled, nor re-usable. When making online reviews about your purchases, I urge you all to include a comment about the packaging it came in. Did you think it was excessive?
Something as small as rejecting plastic-bound multipacks (e.g. tuna tins in 3’s; apples in 6’s; coke cans in 12’s) can make a massive difference if we all do it. Saying “no thank you” to shopping bags, whether they be plastic or paper, saves a significant amount of resources. And if you get really stuck in supermarkets, ask for one of their used cardboard boxes.
Workout with Litter
This sounds strange, but here me out.
In the last couple of years, running whilst litter-picking (“Plogging”) has become a major fitness trend amongst those who want to intensify their running with HIIT, whilst maintain their streets, parks, forests or beaches. Plogging is a combination of “jogging” and the Swedish phrase for pick up, “plocka upp”.
All you need are some super thick gloves (maybe your gardening ones?) and a bag to get you going; a picker stick is brilliant for when you’re just walking and collecting.
And it’s an activity that’s perfectly compliant with the lockdown regulations!
Communicate, Connect and Learn
Perhaps start to bring an environmental consciousness to your conversations with family and friends. Not to patronise or grill, but to explore what their views and feelings are on various matters relating to humans’ relationship to nature. Talking about it with others helps bring attention to issues we could easily help alleviate.
Going a step further, a great way of caring for your community is by joining a local social-environmental action group (e.g. a Friends of the Earth team) on Facebook or elsewhere. Membership isn’t strict, you help when you can, and you learn a lot about sustainability issues and how to tackle them. Plus, I’ve made a handful of friends by joining these groups.
Discover New Travel Options
Whilst we’re all re-considering our commutes and lifestyles, making lasting changes to how we travel is essential.
Over half of car trips in the UK are less than five miles, with many being less than two miles in cities. And it’s actually drivers that are suffering the worst effects of this pollution burst as there can be up to double the amount of pollution inside vehicles.
So, can you walk or cycle (or, when safe, hop on public transport/a carpool) instead? Ooh, or even use running itself as a method of transportation!