Just as Snooki is throwing her latest fit, you hop off the treadmill and say to yourself: Is my workout harming the environment?
Perhaps your moment of “crystallization” wasn’t so dramatic. You might not have even been watching “Jersey Shore” when it happened. For all we know, it could have been “Glee.”
In any case, you’ve realized that it’s time to review your fitness routine. If so, this article is your eco-revelation. By following some of these simple tips, your workout will be greener and maybe even more fulfilling.
1. Run Away from the Treadmill
Better yet, skip the gym, and do your cardio outdoors. Several psychological studies have been conducted on green exercise, and results suggest that even as little as five minutes of it “is likely to boost self-esteem and mood.”
Likewise, unless you are very private about your workout, exercising outside “is more likely to increase a person’s frequency of exercise compared to indoor exercise.”
Plus, leaving the car at home saves gas, which doesn’t seem so bad these days when you take a look at the current prices at the pump.
2. Seek Out Eco-Friendly Gyms
If you still prefer the gym prior to making your summer appearance on the beach, be sure to scope out the greenest gyms in the area before “committing” to one. Finding the right gym is a big step for anyone, but some basic criteria can help guide your decision.
Electricity usage is obviously a major element. Eco-friendly treadmills (especially those without separate tv screens attached to the top), non-motorized and power generating machines, and eco-friendly televisions are marks of an eco-conscious gym.
If you really want to be nitpicky (which is never a bad thing when it comes to the environment), see if their towels, soap and toilet paper are composed of recycled, non-toxic, or organic items.
3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
If you’ve read any of my articles, I probably sound like a broken record, but the 3 R’s of Recycling relate to just about any eco-friendly behavior.
Reduce: Reduction of any sort may seem counterproductive to exercise, but some common habits can really increase your eco-impact.
If you’re at the gym, you can be an “eco-cop” by turning off unattended televisions and by using unpowered equipment. Unfortunately, most gyms don’t offer honorary badges for this kind of behavior, but hopefully the personal satisfaction will be sufficient for your ego.
Reuse: Always check out thrift stores and yard sales before purchasing fitness equipment. Not only will this save you money (athletic gear is usually a serious investment), you will reduce the number of petroleum-based materials that enter the landfill.
On that same note, try to use refillable water bottles. This will save you from having to buy plastic water bottles all the time. Plus, Mama Earth will thank you: plastic water bottles comprise billions of pounds of harmful waste every year, and take ages to decompose.
Recycle: As they say, true charity comes from the “sole,” so instead of dumping your old shoes or old gear, why not recycle them? Nike has a Reuse-a-Shoe program that turns any brand shoe into running tracks, playground surfaces and more.
New American Dream also offers an eco-friendly depository for used sporting goods, including yoga mats, t-shirts, baseballs and practically anything you found at your local sporting goods store. If your workout gear is beyond usable (or fashionable) condition, make sure it finds its way to the right place.
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By doing your part (in a small or large way), you can save money and free the environment from unnecessary waste. In other words, you’ll feel even better about yourself when you hit the beach.
“They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong.” -President Ronald Reagan. Brendan Pringle is a regular contributor and Managing Editor of Green Living Press.