Running 101: How to Be a More Eco-Friendly Runner

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | running tips

Apr 20

Hey there! After a brief hiatus, Running 101 is back in session! This is a blog series I started a few years ago to share tips for runners that are either completely new to the sport or are more experienced and want to review the basics! Here are just a few “courses” I’ve shared:

One issue that I’ve been thinking about lately is climate change and what I can do to personally minimize my environmental impact. Over the years, I’ve been making changes in my everyday life to “do better” for our planet, and that has recently extended to running. How we can enjoy running in an environmentally responsible way? I have a few ideas!

I hope that these tips to being an eco-friendly runner find just a little bit of resonance in your life! I bet there’s already a lot of this that you do, but hopefully I’ve provided a little bit of food for thought!

Learn some tips on how to be a more eco-friendly runner and share with your friends! #runchat Click To Tweet

I’m linking up with Tuesday Topics with Zenaida and Kim, Runners’ Roundup with Coach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerLaura Norris RunningMile by Mile, and Runs with Pugs, and My First 5K and MoreRunning With AttitudeRun Laugh Eat PieRuns with Pugs, and Zenaida for Fit Five Friday!

Eco-Friendly Running Tips

There are so many aspects to being “eco-friendly” that sometimes it can be overwhelming! I hope that the tips below are actionable and straightforward! I am actively working on many of these running tips right now!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

When Shopping

  • Minimize what you buy. The biggest misnomer with being green is that recycling is the first step; however, the greatest impact we can make is by minimizing waste before we need to recycle, aka “Reduce”! Let’s think about whether we need more running gear or if we can make do with what we have.
  • Buy higher-quality vs. inexpensive workout gear. Have you heard of fast fashion? It’s a huge problem, for a lot of reasons, but one consequence is that it creates a large source of wasted resources since the clothing are not “made to last”. I have to confess that I’m pretty cheap, so this is hard for me, but I’ve committed to purchasing higher-quality clothing and accessories when I need to replace an item.
  • Consider supporting sustainable clothing and shoe brands or companies with green initiatives. Not all companies are created equally, so do your research and support an organization that resonates with you. I recently joined the REI Co-Op and I’m really liking the way they do business. Allbirds is another brand that creates shoes with natural and recycled materials and has a clear commitment to sustainability.
  • Recycle your worn running shoes. Many running stores will collect your old running shoes and you can usually find a drop-off box at in-person races. My shoes usually go to Goodwill. Alternatively, you could purchase used running gear at a place like REI.

When Traveling

  • Carpool or take public transportation to a race when possible. It was nice when I was literally walking distance from races near the Art Museum in Philly. At Rock ‘n Roll Seattle and Montreal, I took the subway to the race start, and at Rock n’ Roll Nashville we actually shared an Uber with other runners. Assess your options!
  • Consider doing more local races vs. traveling far distances. While you have the benefit of reducing your carbon footprint by staying local, you’re supporting races that directly benefit the community by raising funds for worthy organizations.
  • Make the most of destination races. Who doesn’t love a race-cation, right? Bret and I had our honeymoon in Savannah, which just so happened to have a race that same weekend we were in town.

When Running for Fun

  • Respect the trails! Only run on the designated paths and leave no trace! Here are some great tips on hiking etiquette from the National Parks Service.
  • Never litter! Please don’t throw your trash onto the street or trail. Plogging has grown in popularity, where people pick up trash while on a run.
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When Training/ Racing

  • Support eco-friendly races. One of my favorite races in Philly is the Run for Clean Air. They have taken many actions to minimize their carbon footprint and even had race bibs that you could plant in your garden! Look for races with a designation such as “Zero Waste” and check out Bibrave’s Green Lion winners for sustainable races!
  • When available, take the option to decline a T-shirt or medal when signing up for a race. Not only does it help minimize costs for race organizers, but it also helps minimize waste! Do you really need another T-shirt?
  • Bring your own hydration bottle and/or fuel to a race. Ideally, this is what you’ve been already doing while training. While it can be convenient to use what’s offered at a race, so much trash is generated from those little cups and packs of fuel! Plus, being solely dependent on those stations can be a recipe for trouble.
  • Again, do not litter! Slipping on wet paper cups is probably one of my biggest pet peeves during races. Even when you try to toss your trash to the side of the road, it still makes a mess.
  • Use a reusable mask/gaiter vs. disposable. Masks are part of our new normal ever since COVID-19 changed our lives! Help minimize plastic waste by using cloth masks! Check out my review of the Body Helix Face Mask.
  • Avoid all the excess STUFF at race expos! I’ve been guilty of collecting beer glasses and tank tops as souvenirs, but there are some knick-knacks offered by races that just end up collecting dust.

After the Race

  • Avoid grabbing post-race food that you do not want/need. Philly races love pretzels, but they usually end up in the trash. I won’t name a race that I participated in that had SO much discarded food at the end that it was an eyesore…
  • Donate your medals to worthy organizations. Some race medals have sentimental value, and others we keep out of obligation. Why not donate those extra medals to Medals4Mettle for those who could use the bling?
  • Repurpose your finisher T-shirts and racing bibs. There are so many options for upcycling! From coasters to blankets and more! I actually created photo albums on Shutterfly and left a page for each race bib that I’ve saved since my very first race!
  • Consider sharing your feedback with the race directors. If you have suggestions on how a race can be more eco-friendly, reach out! Send a PM or social media or tag them when you want to applaud their efforts!
I’ve been making photobooks for every year of running – I knew keeping my bibs would come in handy!

Have you implemented any of these eco-friendly tips as a runner? Which one would you give a try? And what did I miss?

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