How to make your workout work for the planet

Environmentally-friendly workout

With environmental issues becoming an increasingly hot topic, introducing small sustainable solutions to everyday life is top of mind for most of us. However, sometimes it is difficult to know the best way to incorporate changes into our day-to-day lives and reduce our carbon footprint. 

We explore the small changes you can make for a more environmentally-friendly workout by recycling, saving water, choosing sustainable products and more.

Green water (not the colour, the ethos)

Most of us are aware of the damage single-use plastic has on the planet. Despite this, the average person uses 150 bottles per year. Bottles, sometimes used for only a few minutes, can end up in the sea and be ingested by sea life. As well as damaging and polluting the planet, this plastic can re-enter our systems through eating seafood. Swapping these disposable bottles for sustainable containers will improve both the earth and your health.

Alternative water bottles

There are several fitting substitutes that could work instead. A popular alternative to plastic is stainless steel. You could try Red Originals insulated drinks bottle or One Green Bottles. These are recyclable when they come to the end of their use. The bottles are insulated to keep your water cool and are lightweight enough to be used on the go.

If you aren’t a fan of stainless-steel bottles, maybe a good old-fashioned glass bottle will fit the bill. Trouva chic memo bottles (£29.95*) or MIU COLOR signature droplet design glass and silicone bottle (£8.99*). Don’t worry, they aren’t as fragile as they sound. Many have silicone sleeves to ensure they stand up to any knocks and bashes they get in your bag.

Less conventional materials include bamboo (renewable) and 100% sugar cane (carbon negative).  Try this Not On The Highstreet personalised bamboo water bottle (£18*) or Wearth London’s sustainable bamboo water bottle (£20*). Yuhme’s sugar cane (£24*) bottle makes keeping the planet healthy extra sweet. 

Whichever eco-friendly bottle you choose, make sure that it is BPA free. Happy shopping!

Environmentally-friendly workout equipment

There are a handful of gyms in the UK providing a place to become a fitness powerhouse (literally). Harnessing the energy used on gym equipment (treadmills or exercise bikes) by participants will create electricity. The energy generated will be used to run the same machines.

Yoga and Pilates are a great way connect with your mind, body, and spirit as well as the world around us. Both are great for beginners as there is a low barrier to entry, all you need is a mat. However, rather surprisingly, many mats contain harmful toxins that aren’t kind to the planet (they end up in landfill and can release harmful chemicals as they degrade) or our bodies. Feeling guilty about those single-use bottles ending up in the ocean? These mats are made of eight recycled bottles, meaning eight less in the sea.

Cork mats

Cork isn’t just the barrier between you and your wine, it is a natural material that is increasingly being used to create mats and accessories. The cork tree isn’t cut down in order to harvest usable cork, making it a brilliant renewable resource. Cork boasts great grip to support your poses and has anti-bacterial properties too. You could try Cork Space’s Pro Cork yoga mat (£65*) or Cork Yogis have mats (from £65*) which help to give young women and girls in India who have been trafficked, find work through the Destiny Reflection Foundation.

Jute mats

Alternatively, there are several eco-friendly materials that yoga and Pilates mats can be made from; Jute is one of them. This sustainable plant grown in South East Asia is used to make an environmentally friendly resin. It is great for use in Pilates mats as it is lightweight and particularly good for hot forms of yoga due to its non-slip and anti-microbial properties. You could try the ecoYoga Jute Mat (£45* from Yoga Matters) or Carrot Banana Peach’s Jute mat (£35* and get 10% off by using this code NM0CVR4BBS5Y). 

Rubber mats

Recyclable rubber mats, made by harvesting sustainable tree rubber, are a great alternative to mass-produced mats. They are durable and provide comparable grip and cushioning. This biodegradable Manduka eKO natural rubber mat (£45*) is a great option or the NJEast Coasters recycled rubber and cellular vinyl mat which retail at £65.44*.

Hemp mats

Hemp mats are another natural option as the plants can grow in a variety of climates, with little need for pesticides. This fabric has a soft texture, absorbs moisture easily and is machine washable, making them more hygienic than many other types of mat. This Trinity Hemp Yoga mat is available for £79.30*. 

Bamboo, cotton and Cocona mats

Similarly to yoga and Pilates mats, there’s a new world of sustainable materials making our gym towels more planet-friendly. Organic cottonbamboo, and those made from COCONA (derived from coconut shells) are all fantastic ways to reduce synthetic materials getting into the sea during the washing process.

Clean up your workout

We all know that fitness equipment, gym towels and clothing get sweaty. So, to keep your exercise routine green post workout, cleaning these will need to be gentle. Use eco-friendly washing powder, reduce the temperature to 30-degrees, make sure there is a full load and always air-dry washing as best practice.

Clean your mat using an all-natural recipe of three drops tea tree oil, two drops peppermint and lavender oils mixed with distilled water.  

You can also lower your water waste by decreasing your shower time. Data shows that on average an eight-minute shower uses 62 gallons of water. Cutting a shower down to five minutes can greatly reduce how much water is used. A quick way to lower water consumption is to turn off the water when lathering your hair then turning it back on to wash out your (eco-friendly) products. 

Look great whilst you change the world with sustainable fashion

Our fast fashion society is contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the fashion industry is having a bigger negative impact on the climate than air and sea travel. Fashion items end up in landfill. Recycle clothes can be difficult. The strain of separating mixed/blended textiles or removing strong dye from the first processing can make it unviable.

Even with the above consideration, some brands are trailblazing by using recycled material to create fab fitness wear. Others are using sustainable bamboo or natural fibres to create their goods with smaller, made to order, local manufacturing to reduce waste.

Many trainer brands are taking the first step to create greener footwear. Nike, New Balance, and Adidas are using recycled bottles rescued from oceans and sustainable materials to create stylish activewear that is kind to the earth. These Addidas’ Parley trainers made up of at least 75% upcycled plastic rubbish. These are produced in a low energy, low water usage manufacturing process without compromising style or performance.   

Sustainable swimwear

Swimwear is largely made from synthetic materials like nylon and polyester. The tide is starting to turn, with many brands now harnessing the power of recycling. By repurposing materials like plastic bottles, recovered fishing nets (nearly 640,000 tons are left in the ocean every year), industrial fabric scraps and even carpetthese sustainable swimsuits look amazing whilst saving the planet.

You will be the envy of your group exercise class when you turn up in your environmentally-friendly workout gear. Find a class near you now today, click here.

*prices correct at the time of publication

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