Committing to a healthy lifestyle is No. 1 on the to-do lists of so many of us this year. I can’t deny I’m in that group. If you’re with me, these eight easy tips will help you green your workout routine whether you’re just starting (or restarting) your fitness journey or continuing your already-established regimen.
1. Use a Reusable Water Bottle
Capitalism and marketing have created a bottled water surge in the U.S. Don’t fall for it! Plastic water bottles are a huge environmental pollutant and require harmful fossil fuels to be made. Americans buy 29 billion plastic water bottles a year, and only one of every six is actually tossed in the recycling bin. The others sit in landfills for up to 450 years before degrading.
Rather than contributing to environmental devastation by plastic bottle, I encourage you to switch to reusable drinkware. Bottles made from aluminum, stainless steel and BPA-free plastic are all great choices for eco-friendly thirst quenching.
2. Ditch Disposable Towels
Most gyms advise members to wipe down equipment after a sweaty training session. Handy wet wipe dispensers stand by to help you accomplish this. Unfortunately for the planet, wet wipes aren’t recyclable.
Look harder and you might find a bottle of cleaning solution and a reusable cloth towel for you to wash your workout machine. This waste-reducing tactic is a much greener option than using single-use towels. Ask an employee for help if you can’t find any wet wipe alternatives at your gym.
3. Enroll in a Green Gym
Gyms across the country are taking on eco-friendly initiatives. Solar panels on stationary bikes, treadmills that generate energy, water bottle filling stations and recycled equipment are a few things that earn gyms the “green” title. Look for one of these innovative facilities near you or ask your favorite gym about their environmental policy. You can — and should — embolden them to adopt more green practices.
4. Solar-Charge Your Phone
Using reusable energy instead of burning fossil fuels is so important for the environment. We all should be using solar power — or some other source of renewable energy — for everything. Sometimes that’s difficult, though. Until you go completely solar, you can start by getting a solar-powered device charger or power bank. That way, you can jam out to your pump-me-up playlist guilt-free while you sweat.
5. Master the Five-Minute Shower
There’s nothing quite like a refreshing shower after a tough gym session. It feels great to wash away the sweat that comes with a workout and emerge feeling fresh, clean and ready to take on the day (or night).
More than two gallons per minute are flowing down the drain from the moment you twist that nozzle. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to take your time in the shower to relax your tired muscles. Taking shorter showers is an excellent way to be eco-friendly. Invest in a shower timer and aim for five minutes.
6. Fuel Sustainably
There are many environmentally friendly ways to fuel up before or after a workout — are they part of your routine? Next time you reach for the protein powder or chomp down on an energy bar, ask yourself what it’s made of. Many of us choose to make shakes with whey protein, take harsh supplements or eat processed energy bars — because that’s what everyone does, right?
Whey protein is actually derived from animals and is part of a grossly fossil-fueled industry. Consider switching to a plant-based protein powder, like those made with brown rice or peas, which can be just as effective as whey protein in helping you reach your fitness goals and is much better for the planet.
I understand the appeal of the energy bar — it’s portable, tasty and filling — but the kind of energy bar you eat is crucial. The optimal bar is one with whole ingredients, like fruits and nuts, and no artificial sweeteners. Nutritionists suggest bars with at least five grams of protein, three grams of fiber and less than five grams of fat. A snack with these qualities is sure to keep your energy high and hunger satisfied.
Alternatively, pack a handful of almonds or a hard-boiled egg for a quick and natural energy boost.
7. Bike to Work
To drive or to bike? It may seem like an easy choice on a chilly morning before work, but you may not realize how beneficial hopping on your bicycle can be. Not only will you be reducing your carbon footprint, you’ll burn fat and improve heart health. You may even inspire your colleagues to green their commute, too! If biking to work isn’t an option, use two wheels for running errands around town.
8. Recycle Your Gear
Step away from the dumpster. When you’re ready to replace your old gear, donate or recycle it to give it new life instead of sending it to a landfill where it will pollute the environment for decades. Thrift stores will accept gently used workout gear as donations, and there are many organizations dedicated to providing donated gear to those in need. Nike, for example, takes donations and recycles old shoes into new apparel, footwear and surfaces.
Now get out there and break a sweat! Your body will thank you, and if you keep the earth in mind, it will thank you, too.