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Earth Day: Be a "Green" Runner!

Posted Apr 22 2010 2:55am

Today is Earth Day. I have tried to make small changes in my life to better the environment. For instance, I think it is rude and un-runner-like when runners throw their empty GU wrapper on the ground. If it's a major race where volunteers are picking things up, that's one thing. But I'm talking about when runners leave their crap on running trails in parks or on the street. Not nice. 

While my roof isn't covered in solar panels, and I switched back to using paper napkins after trying very hard to only use linen ones, here are some earth-friendly things I do, some related to running and others not.

  • Recycle old running clothes, sneakers: When I was getting dressed for a 12-miler yesterday, I put on a sports bra and realized it must be at least five years old. But it still fits and isn't warped and stretched, so why toss it for another? I also send my old running clothes and sneakers to a charity, such as the Lupus Foundation, unless they are absolutely raunchy and really need to be deep-sixed. 
  • Save all leftovers and every scrap of food like a squirrel: Seriously, my husband calls me a squirrel because I tend to "hoard" food. If there is a large amount of dinner leftover and I'm not sure if we'll eat it quickly enough before it becomes a science project in the fridge, I simply freeze and label everything. I usually freeze things in dinner-size portions, so if I'm eating solo and don't want to cook, a great meal conveniently awaits.  AND, what a great timesaver for busy moms who run, swim, bike, work and try to be superwoman all day long. There was a great article in the Chicago Tribune  (4/19) on how eating your leftovers can help reduce your carbon footprint. I also love to eat the "ends" of the bread (a lot of people toss it). This can make a great pre-run snack, especially for those 5 AM runs when there's not enough time to eat a full breakfast and allow two hours for digestion.
  • Make own baby food:  

Since my baby boy, (we'll call him Lil' Bubba , his new nickname thought up by my mother, although she calls him Big Bubba), started eating real foods, I decided to make my own. So far I've made rice cereal, bananas, peas, and sweet potatoes. I love making my own food and knowing exactly what I'm feeding him. Not to mention it eliminates the waste of glass/plastic jars and is cheaper in the long run!

  • Wear running clothes twice before washing: This might seem gross, but I only do it if I went on a short run in cool weather and didn't sweat much. It saves laundry water. I'm guilty of doing the "smell" test - if they don't smell like body odor, I'll be a repeat offender wear them again, but only to run outside. I usually run alone, so even if I did smell, who is going to know? Well, now anyone reading this post knows! I do always wear clean underwear, though. Repeating underwear is just wrong. 
  • Recycle junk mail, cereal boxes, glass jars, plastic and cans.
  • Use my 1-liter Nalgene bottle and Nathan hydration belt with 4-10 oz. bottles vs. buying those awful plastic water bottles.
  • Use material food shopping bags
  • I don't tend to drive anywhere to go running, with the exception of once-weekly long runs where I may drive to meet a friend or run on my fave trail . Otherwise I just step out my door and go. 
  • Eat off the same plate as my husband ... but not ALL the time. If he has toast with PB for breakfast, I'll use his plate later because it's not like he licked it or anything. Why dirty another plate and waste water to clean it? 
  • Use paper napkins and tissues more than once.  If I barely use a napkin, why throw it away? I put it somewhere out of reach of my crazy, napkin thief Labrador  and use it later. I save a tissue for later as well if I didn't booger it up too much the first time around - is this TMI?

Are all you runners Earth-friendly? Happy Earth Day to you!

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