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Ways Runners Can Be More Green and Protect the Environment

Try these eco-friendly ideas


Updated January 25, 2014

Lots of runners and race organizers are making an effort to become more environmentally-conscious these days. Here are some simple ways that runners can be more green and help protect the environment:

Recycle your used running shoes.

Pair of old sneakers
Photo © Christine Luff
There are lots of shoe recycling or donation programs that will put your used shoes to good use.

Find races that are environmentally-friendly.

Green Runners in Road Race
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Many races throughout the country are trying to become more green by doing things such as recycling paper and plastic, offering used shoe collection, giving out organic, locally-grown foods at the finish line and donating the leftovers (rather than throwing them away). Check out the Greenteam, a group of races that are making environmentally-friendly changes to their races.

Don't throw away plastic bottles.

Amphipod Handheld water bottle
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber
Use refillable water bottles instead of throwaway plastic bottles during runs and races.

More: Top Water Bottles and Carriers

Don't litter.

Runner garbage
Although most runners wouldn't normally throw their garbage on the ground, they change the rules when running or racing. Don't throw out sports gels or bar wrappers on the ground. Hold onto those wrappers until you find a container to put it in.

Recycle your electronic gadgets.

Runner with headphones
Henrik Sorensen
Runners are known for loving their gadgets and frequently replacing them. Check out Earth 911's website for information on how you can recycle electronic goods such as MP3 players and cell phones.

Buy powdered sports drinks.

Gatorade Endurance Sports Drink
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber
Rather than buying individual bottles of Gatorade or other sports drinks, get bulk packages or containers of powdered sports drink mix and make your own. It's much cheaper and better for the environment, since you can make it in a reusable sports bottles.

More: How Runners Can Save Money

Hold off on buying new clothes.

Washing machine
Andrew Olney
Try to get as much use out of your running clothes as you can. Don't put clothes made of technical fabrics in the dryer -- they'll last longer. Using a detergent designed for technical fabrics, such as Win detergent, also helps extend their life.

More: How to Care for Your Running Clothes

Give your running clothes new life.

Pile of T-shirts
Jonathan Kantor

If you have piles of running clothes that no longer fit you (thanks to weight loss - congrats!), you can sell your used running clothes at a local consignment shop or on sites like eBay or Craigslist. Or, if you have a stack of race T-shirts that you know you'll never wear, donate them to charities such as Goodwill or Salvation Army, or list them on Freecycle.org.

Run local races.

Runners in road race
Photo by John Foxx
It's fun to travel to out-of-town races but staying local will not only save you money, it will limit your impact on the environment by using less gas. If you can carpool or take transportation to those local races, that's even better.

More: How to Find Local Races
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