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Volunteers Cleaning Beach

7 Eco-Friendly Running Tips

As environmental concerns increasingly come to the forefront of the public’s mind, many runners may be asking themselves if there is anything they can do to help curb their impact? The good news is there are a couple of things that you can easily incorporate into your running routine with minimal disruption to mother nature.

Run Local

Nearby races are an amazing opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint (less gas spent) and support a local business. Most races are put on by local race directors who are helping a charity or other businesses in the area. By signing up for one of their races, you are helping several causes at once in one fell swoop. Talk about efficient! If you live in an area that doesn’t have a lot of races, look into taking public transportation when going to events out of town.

Eat Seasonally & Shop Locally 

Often times, people don’t think about the cost of shipping food from halfway around the world, not to mention the impact it has on the environment. Some produce travels on boats, trains, and trucks, all of which use gas. By shopping local and buying in-season fruits and veggies, you are able to support local farmers, buy the freshest food possible, and help lessen your impact on the environment!

Pick Up Trash

An unfortunate reality is that not every runner respects the trails they train on. Carry a trash bag and some gloves with you to pick up any litter you see while running outdoors.

Rethink Swag

Ask yourself if you really need another race t-shirt? The “fast fashion” industry, where low-quality shirts are mass-produced on the quick, is devastating to the ecosystem. The fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of water supply and constitutes 10% of the world's carbon emissions. Some races offer swag as a part of your registration package, just be sure to donate the shirt when you no longer wear it. You also have the option to attend races that offer eco-friendly swag, if they're available in your area.

Use Refillable Containers

The average American uses 167 disposable bottles per year, with only a fraction of those being recycled.

Save yourself some money and purchase a reusable aluminum water bottle for your runs. If you bring snacks for longer races, carry them in reusable bags or containers.

Reclycle Old running Gear

Have your shoes seen better days? Runners are infamous for going through their workout gear in a short period of time. Most athletes end up throwing them away, but did you know there are programs that want your old workout stuff? If your shoes are worn past the point of no return, don’t toss them in the trash! Check out Nike’s Reuse a Shoe Program. They take old shoes, strip them down and reuse the materials as padding on tracks, playgrounds, etc. If you have shirts or pants in okay condition, donate them.


Even electronics can find a second life somewhere! If you can't donate your old running watches or step counters, etc., look into some non-profits or businesses that will gladly take them off your hands.

Use Powdered Sports Drinks

Are you one of those runners that NEEDS to have a sports drink? Put down that plastic bottle and pick up a powdered version instead. As previously mentioned, plastic is a huge problem in landfills. Over 70% of plastic bottles are not recycled and are left to break down on their own. Using instant powder can help curb your plastic use and save you money in the long run. A double win!


It might seem obvious not to litter, but there are less apparent things we do every day that harm the environment. From where we get the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, these everyday choices have long-term effects you might not have considered. We can all do our part to help. Take these suggestions into account, and figure out what you can make work for your lifestyle and budget.

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