Were you one of the countless Americans who made the New Year’s resolution to exercise more in 2012? Before you hop in your car to drive to the gym or invest in an expensive, energy-sucking home exercise machine, check out these six ways to lower the environmental footprint of your new workout routine.
1. Ditch the car
Rather than spew carbon emissions on your way to the gym, step out of your car and green your exercise regimen by taking advantage of the great outdoors.
Jog on hiking trails near your house, bike through your neighborhood or take a walk outside your office on your lunch break.
It’s even better if you can complete your daily to-do’s while increasing your heart rate: walking to the corner store to pick up some groceries or biking to work.
Too cold to venture outside this time of year (or too hot in the summer)? Sign up for online yoga classes through YogaToday or YogaGlo, and pursue your practice in the comfort of your own home. Or borrow yoga, Pilates and other exercise DVDs from the local library – a very inexpensive way to start your home workout routine.
2. Upgrade to a reusable bottle
It’s important to stay hydrated while working out, and if you haven’t made the switch to a reusable water bottle, it’s time to add that to your list of New Year’s resolutions.
Bottled water creates 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Of course, you can easily recycle plastic water bottles through most local recycling programs, but as you know, it’s always environmentally preferable to reduce waste before recycling it.
While you’ll always want to keep bottled water around in your home’s emergency kit or when traveling in a place with a questionable water supply, replace your daily bottled water habit with a reusable water bottle filled up with tap water – which the NRDC has found is as safe and clean as bottled water.
When shopping for your reusable water bottle, look for plastic bottles labeled as BPA-free, aluminum bottles with BPA-free lining and stainless steel bottles, which often contain a high amount of recycled content material.
3. Get green gear
You don’t have to spend a small fortune on exercise equipment to start your new workout regimen.
Simply use items you already have lying around the house to build your own home gym: Use canned foods as weights, several towels instead of a mat, two chairs for triceps exercises and a small stool to use as a step.
If you find you need to buy a few new items, look for products made from eco-friendly materials. Yogis and Pilates enthusiasts should consider JadeYoga’s natural rubber and recycled rubber yoga mats and Gaiam’s cork yoga blocks and organic cotton yoga straps.
If you’re in the market for an exercise ball, hand weights or resistance bands, check out Natural Fitness’ wide array of equipment, many of which are made from recycled materials and natural rubber.
Looking to add larger exercise equipment to your home gym? Clip a bicycle trainer onto your regular bike, and you have a stationary bike that doesn’t require electricity and didn’t break the bank. You can also consider purchasing a self-powered, non-motorized treadmill – a cheaper, less bulky option than conventional treadmills that doesn’t suck power from the grid.