Look for eco-friendly companies when shopping for workout clothes and gear. Gaiam, Patagonia, and GoLite are just a few of the companies that use organic fibers in their clothing and accessories. Green your yoga session by investing in a mat made from sustainable ingredients, like Manduka's eKO Mat.
Brian Maranan Pineda
Reuse Old Fitness Gear
If you've downward dogged your yoga mat into tatters or have equipment from your days of being in the neighborhood soccer league, blow off the dust bunnies for a cause. Bring new life to your old gear through these programs:
Recycle Your Mat: Send your old mat (or drop it off at a participating location) and this company will work with other organizations to find creative new uses for it.
Sports Gift: Organize a collection in your neighborhood, school, or office for old gear, like soccer balls, tennis racquets, and athletic shoes, and this nonprofit will ship them to underprivileged children worldwide so they can enjoy sports too.
Reuse-a-Shoe: Donate worn sneakers to Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program and they'll turn your pair into material for playgrounds and other Nike products. Find a drop-off location or start your own shoe drive at Nikereuseashoe.com.
Care for Your Clothes
A sweaty workout can lead to smelly workout clothes. Instead of putting your threads through a tough spin cycle, switch to a natural detergent. Fewer harsh chemicals will prolong the life of your clothing, and since many are formulated for cold water, you'll save on energy too. We like Mrs. Meyer's 68 Load 4X Laundry Detergent: the concentrated formula saves water used in the detergent and cuts down on packaging, reducing your carbon footprint in more ways than one.
Learn to Share
Hopping on a bike instead of getting in the car is always a good option, but if you don't have your own set of wheels, community bike sharing programs are your earth- and wallet-friendly solution. In a bike share, riders can rent a bike at one location and drop it off at another for a monthly fee. Bike shares have been popular in Europe and are now popping up in cities like Washington D.C., Boston, Denver, and soon to be in New York City.
Turn Your Sweat into Energy
You aim to burn hundreds of calories by hopping on the spin bike or elliptical, but did you know all that energy can be reused as actual power? Companies like ReRev and Green Revolution have engineered ways to turn cardio machines into energy sources. These companies connect cardio equipment — Green Revolution works exclusively with spin bikes — to transform the energy you've burned to electricity that gyms can use.
It's easy to recycle aluminum cans and plastic bottles, but what about your tubes for moisturizer or your foundation compact? Companies like Origins and MAC Cosmetics have programs that encourage customers to return containers in exchange for discounts or even some free swag. At any Origins retailer or department store counter, you can return beauty containers of any brand. At MAC, you can return 6 MAC containers for a free lipstick shade of your choice.
By now telling you to eat locally grown, organic foods would make us sound like a broken record. Though the origins of your produce still matter, there are even easier, budget-friendly ways to eat green. "Choose loose, fresh vegetables instead of prepackaged ones," says nutritionist Kate Gardner, MS, RD. "You'll save on packaging and the cost of transporting those foods." To make healthy eating more convenient, you can chop and prep individual servings and store them in your own containers.
Make a Better Brew
Even your cup of Joe can be green with the latest line of eco-friendly coffee beans and filters. Buy a bag of organic beans like Newman's Own Organic Coffee ($9, grocery stores nationwide) or invest in a brewing system like the Keurig Vue. The single-cup Vue packs are #5 recyclable plastic.
Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, March 2012.