When you think of helping the environment picking the right gym gear is not usually the first thing that comes to mind, but eco friendly gym gear can be a big step towards living a greener existence. Just think about how many people go to gyms each day. Each of those people might be packing a big bag full of stuff that they will use while they are there. Think about all the folks who have home gyms. It really adds up.
Lots of the gym gear you see is made from plastic, even the clothing. While I may not be able to avoid all plastic and other planet-cringing materials, I like to think that you can keep it to a minimum with some careful planning. It also goes to follow that someone who cares about planetary health will also want items that are healthier on a personal level too. The exercise industry has sprung onto the green living bandwagon with aplomb, generating a whole host of eco-friendly equipment and gear that can be used by those who want to integrate green living into every aspect of their lives.
So what eco friendly options can you find to replace the mainstream gym bag and its contents?
The Eco Friendly Gym Bag – If you walk down the isle of a Wal-Mart or a Target to find a gym bag you will like end up with some sort of polyester (from plastic) gym bag. I have avoided this issue by just making do with a reuseable shopping bag I already had. I think it is made of some poly material but it is not new. If I do decide to get another one at some point I already have my eye on one made from recycled materials… this one from Gaiam. To hold wet things like swim suits you could get a wet bag like is used for diapers but I have just opted to wrap my wet stuff in my towel and hang it when I get home.
Organic Towels – If you have any beach towels at home you can just grab one of those to use after some pool time. If not you may want to check into organic beach towels like these from DreamSacks. They are made from bamboo and cotton. If you need something smaller, perhaps for yoga or the treadmill, a small hand towel from your towel closet will work or you can get a small bamboo gym towel.
Sustainable Workout Clothes – Workout clothing that is ‘environmentally conscious’ is widely available now; all it takes is a little research. Keep your eye out for workout clothes made from organic and natural fibers OR recycled materials which are great for removing moisture. A minimal amount of synthetic fibers is preferred but sometimes you need something that wicks better than natural fibers and that is where recycled synthetics come in. Just be aware that synthetic fibers can become really stinky over time.
If you want to take it a step further, check into the businesses that sell or produce the products and make certain that they have sustainable business models and/or fair labor practices that correlate with your own world view. Patagonia and Gaiam are two companies that are known for their eco-friendly practices and ideals. I love yoga pants, which is what I wear. They’re organic!
Eco Gym Shoes – Footwear is another area where you can choose eco-friendly products. The same ideals as those expressed in workout clothing apply, make sure that the products and company fit with your ecological ideals. One that comes to mind is the Green Silence. It is made with soy-based inks and recycled materials. The packaging is also 100% post-consumer recycled. I have read numerous reviews of them and all have been favorable. I also really like barefoot shoes and wrote a whole post about those and Okabashi recycled flip-flops for the gym showers and locker room.
Eco Water Bottles – It’s not cool to drink out of disposable plastic bottles so the best choice will obviously be to get a good reusable bottle. I love my glass water bottles but those aren’t very practical for the gym. This Klean Kanteen Stainless/Bamboo bottle would be awesome for the gym.
Other Stuff – Wood Earbuds and Eco Yoga Mats.
And if you really want to green your gym experience write a letter to management or chat them up while you are there about using green cleaners to sanitize the machines and wash the towels or using less chlorine in the pool. If their customers consistently make these demands they may just rise to the challenge.
How do YOU green your workout routine?
No doubt you have heard by now that some of the popular bottled water brands are actually glorified tap water. There is just nothing like a cold, refreshing bottle of $2.00 tap water right? Not!
Save yourself some money and bottle your own “public water source” water in a nice resuable bottle. I recommend Klean Kanteen or Life Factory. Not only will you stop funding greedy and manipulative corporations you will also help to reduce the amount of plastic bottles entering the market and our landfills.
And if you are worried about the quality of tap water you can always look into a water filtration system for your house and drink your very own “aquafina”.
Do you have an quickie green living tip? Send me a guest post with your tip and I will post it here!
Food waste makes up nearly a third of the trash sent to landfills. This statistic alone gives us pause before we even begin to consider the millions who don’t have enough food to eat. You and your family can help reverse this by making a conscious effort cut down on food waste. With these five steps, you can begin to make a positive dent in an unsavory problem.
1. Shop smart
Plan out your meals for the week before you go grocery shopping. Make a detailed list, and stick to it. Remember to avoid impulse purchases (not shopping while hungry is sure to help) and buy only the exact quantities you’ll need. Purchasing grains and nuts from the bulk bins and only buying loose produce are great ways to cut down on excess. If you’re not sure of the right amount of food to buy, get into the habit of writing down what foods you end up throwing away so you know to avoid buying that much in the future.
2. Preserve food you can’t immediately use
When you shop, pay attention to expiration dates. To keep track in your refrigerator, make a habit of putting the newest foods toward the back of the fridge and moving the older items to the front where you’ll see and use them. If you know you won’t be able to use something before it expires, figure out the best way to preserve it. Store chips, cereal, or other items that have the tendency to go stale, in airtight containers. When fruits start to get too soft, toss them in smoothies, and when greens begin to wilt, add them to soups. You can freeze bread, flash freeze fruits and vegetables, and even take up the vintage arts of canning and pickling to avoid throwing food away.
3. Use your leftovers
Vow to eat your leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day, no matter how tempting a trip to the local cafe may be. Consider gifting leftovers from big meals to friends or coworkers if you can’t possibly finish them. Another great idea: Set aside one night a week to make a meal just from food you have in your kitchen – no additional ingredients allowed.
4. Get creative with food scraps
Make produce go further by using all its parts. Stop peeling potatoes, leave the skin on cucumbers, and cook broccoli stems along with the florets. If this isn’t possible, save vegetable peels in a freezer bag, and when the bag is full, make vegetable stock. Pureed vegetable scraps can even be used in vinaigrettes. Take note of what scraps you’re consistently throwing away, and figure out how to reuse them!
When all other methods for reusing your food scraps have failed, compost! Fruits and vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds (and coffee filters), nut shells, and grains can all be composted. There are a number of ways to compost, from vermicomposting with worms to creating a simple garden compost pile, you’re sure to find a method that works for you. But the onus to reduce your family’s food waste shouldn’t rest on your shoulders alone.
Fun stickers are an effective way to remind kids to compost (via RecycleReminders)
Take steps to make composting a family effort. Consider turning composting into a game for your kids. Reward them for composting their food scraps with small prizes. Stickers and buttons from Team Compost can remind your kids that recycling food waste is just as important as recycling any other material.
Being environmentally friendly doesn’t have to be a hassle. You can find simple ways to engage all of your family members – even the little ones – in reducing their impact, starting right in your kitchen.
Guest post written by Monica Burton
Plastics. I can hardly say the word without making the “yuck” face.
Don’t get me wrong I understand that plastics have done some wondrous things for us, especially in medicine and in medical devices. But plastics are EVERYWHERE these days. Corporate America is telling me I need to drink out of plastic, eat off of plastic, wrap my food in plastic, carry my stuff in plastic bags, store my kids toys in plastic, and buy up single use plastics as much as possible to make my like easier. What they don’t tell me though is that plastic is forever, that it chokes our oceans, fills our landfills, harms our wildlife, and leaches hormones into the food products it holds with devastating effects on our health. When at all possible we need to step away from the plastic…for our own health and for the health of the planet. Here are some steps you can take:
Click to Enlarge – Photo Courtesy of www.wildlifeheritage.org
So have you seen The Lorax yet? If so, then you know that it is fodder for lots of conversations within your family about environmentalism and how to put into practice Lessons With The Lorax. The movie is phenomenal and fun but the subject matter is serious and there is no time like the present to work together as a family to do your part and speak for the trees, and the air, and the waterways, and all things Mother Earth. The Lorax movie just brings us a fun way to launch into it with renewed vigor.
One way to gets kids interested and excited might be to give them title of Lorax for a week and alternate weekly between children. For a week they get to be the voice that speaks for the planet. They get to be the watch dog that makes sure lights get turned off and water isn’t wasted. Giving kids this bit of power makes them more aware of the issues and how to solve them. Once all of your kids have had their turn at the wheel you can ask them to look outward for more ideas and broaden their reach. What can they do on their block, in their community, and at their school? Empowering them at home will give them the confidence that they can make a difference elsewhere.
But… back to the home. What can you do there? Letting them be the Lorax for the week might be fun enough on its own but you can also up the ante by offering rewards when certain goals are met. Mom and Dad get to be the Lorax too though, just to set the standard and let the youngins see how this game is played. Have fun!
– Teach kids to be aware of household waste and give them tips on how the family can reduce the amount of garbage that hits the curb each week. If you usually throw out two bags each week, challenge the kids to help you whittle it down to one. Trash can be reduced by recycling as much as you can, reusing what you can, buying foods with little or no packaging, composting scraps, and reducing purchases.
– Start a laundry challenge. Explain how much energy and water goes into washing clothes and how much is wasted when they can’t wear the same pair of jeans for 2 to 3 days or they change clothes multiple times a day. See if you can reduce the number of laundry loads you do and get help hanging the laundry to dry so that the dryer doesn’t have to be used as much.
– Let them audit your household. Give them the power to police water use, energy hogging, and general wastefulness. You will be surprised by all the ways those keen minds will find to help reduce your impact.
– Let your the children help research and decide on purchases. Letting them make buying decisions now will only help them be more mindful consumers later on. Let them choose which toilet paper is the greenest option or what gadget might help them conserve energy or reduce waste. Doing this is especially good for older kids because it gives them the opportunity to really research products make better choices.
– Take an eat local challenge. With your kids at your side make a list of meals you can make with all local ingredients and take them shopping with you and have them help in the food preparation. Explain how you are saving resources by buying from vendors and farms in your own hometown.
– Start a children’s garden. If you have the space, it would be beneficial to let each child have their own small garden bed and help them plant in it. Then they are responsible for weeding, watering, and harvesting. The smiles and feeling of accomplishment will be priceless.
If we want them to be the ones speaking for our planet then we have to help them find their voices…
This post is part of the “Lessons With The Lorax” Blog Tour organized by Universal Pictures for The Lorax Movie. Visit some of the other stops here: