This spring, we’re dedicating our blog to the idea of consuming less, a good way to explore how much is enough for today. That doesn’t mean that you need to give up everything you own and go live in a tree (though that’s great if you do, and many of us feel like we’d love to do that about once a day!). This month, however, we’re dedicating our time to giving you ideas on how you can consume less in reasonable ways in things that you do every day. Today’s topic? How to consume less at the gym. (Scroll to the bottom for our handy infographic!)
Going to the gym (or any form of physical exercise) is one of the healthiest things that you can do for yourself. Not only does it improve your overall physical health but it also helps to reduce stress and increase feelings of satisfaction. However, because the gym is such a routine part of many people’s lives, they often lose sight of how easy it is to generate waste and over-consumption during a gym visit. Here are our favorite seven tips for how to consume less … at the gym.
Tip Number One: Don’t Use the Towel Service
Fluffy, clean towels at the end of every workout are, indeed, delicious. After you’ve had a hard hour on the treadmill or with the weights, the soft feel of a freshly laundered towel is a nice reward. But take a moment to think about all of the energy and resources that go into gym laundry services. If every person at your gym uses one towel per workout and there are a hundred people in your gym at any given time, that’s about the equivalent of five loads of laundry per day, or thirty-five loads of laundry per week. Bring your own towel and reuse it several times. Save the towel service for days when you really want a luxury.
Tip Number Two: Always Bring Your Own Water Bottle
This one should go without saying! It takes the average plastic water bottle about 450 years to totally degrade. Every time you use a single-use, disposable water bottle at the gym, you’re adding to landfill waste extraordinaire. Keeping a water bottle around isn’t that hard. If you find yourself forgetting your water bottle, stash one in your gym bag and then a box of several in your car or at the office (if you go to the gym directly from work). That way, you’ll always have one handy and you won’t need to resort to single-use bottles.
Tip Number Three: Just Because It’s Not Your Hot Water, It’s Still Hot Water
Any time you’re taking a shower in a location that isn’t your home, it’s easy to forget that water conservation is important. When you’re at home, you’re aware of the resources that you have available as well as the water and heating bills. When you’re at the gym, it’s easy for those factors to float out of your mind. When you get into the shower at the gym, remember that it’s still water and it’s still energy to heat water and the more of it that you use unnecessarily the more waste and consumption you’re generating. Take the shower that you need, but don’t linger in there every day using tons of water and heat just because it’s not on your personal tab!
Tip Number Four: Somewhere Near Your Gym There Is Recycling
If you are lucky, your gym has a recycling bin so that when you do need to use a single-use water bottle or a protein drink that’s in a can you can recycle the packaging. However, we’ve found that a recycling bin isn’t always the most common thing in gyms (which is surprising to us since the health of the planet is critical to all of our health). If your gym doesn’t have recycling, bring your recyclables home with you so that they can find a loving home in a blue bin. There’s also a pretty good chance that somewhere not far from your gym is a business with recycling facilities that you can use.
Tip Number Five: About Those Gym Shoes
The great American myth is that you need to replace your gym shoes frequently. In fact, most gym shoes can last you the better part of the year if you take care of them and don’t wear them outside of the gym (shoes that you run or workout in outdoors may not last you as long). The structure of the support in shoes doesn’t break down as fast as many manufacturers would have you believe! Don’t buy new shoes just because your old shoes are a few months old. Wait until you honestly feel them losing support and structure. And when you do decide that it’s time for new gym shoes, be sure to recycle your old shoes.
Tip Number Six: Consider Alternatives to the Gym
Of course, one of the ways to reduce consumption around workouts is to simply do your workout somewhere that doesn’t require a huge amount of energy to run and that doesn’t leave behind a massive carbon footprint. Where might you find such a place? In your own backyard, of course! Weather permitting, working out outside can not only make your workout time more enjoyable and lower on the waste and consumption level but it can also get you some much needed and healthy fresh air. There are dozens of workout and boot camp suggestions on YouTube for workouts that you can do outside, and there’s always the option of running, walking, hiking or biking as well. Just make sure that if you opt for the lower eco-impact solution of working out on your own outside that you wear sun protection whenever you’re out there!
Tip Number Seven: How Do You Get to the Gym?
How do you get to the gym? Do you get into your car and drive? We know that in a lot of suburban areas, gyms are located far away and driving is the only way to get there. However, if you can walk or take public transportation to the gym, you’ll reduce the carbon footprint of getting to your workout destination. In fact, walking to the gym is ideal because it allows you to get your warm-up in before you’ve even entered the gym doors and your cool-down done in the fresh air. Take a look at your habits for getting to and from the gym and think about if there’s a way that you can improve your eco-footprint in that area.