Getting outside amongst the majesty of nature and enjoying the sights and sounds of your local trails is what trail running is all about. So to continue to enjoy this practice we love so dearly, we must be active in protecting the environment and become sustainable runners.
The practice of running seems inherently environmentally friendly. All you need is a pair of shoes and away you, right? We do wish running was this simply. However, unless you are not participating in any races and are running barefoot and bare bummed, then you are likely having a bigger impact on the natural world than you think.
Now nobody is an environmental god who floats among the landscape without leaving a single trace. However, many of us (including myself) can do more to sustain the beautiful world we live in.
Our motto is that all trail runners are environmentalist, some just haven’t realised it yet. So what can we do to become a sustainable runner? Lets have a look!
Plastic Free Sustainable Running Events
Running events are the bedrock of the running scene. They bring together hundreds and thousands of runners to explore their limits in an exciting and supportive atmosphere. However, some of these events create more waster than they are willing to admit. Do these celebrations of human limits come the most of the environment in which we test these limits? They don’t have to.
Many running events are already becoming plastic free, which is a great step toward sustainability. Choosing events where they do not have paper or plastic cups at water points is fantastic. Having a reusable cup on hand or water bottles is just as easy and has less environmental impact when we reuse them over rand over.
Some running events choosing to go plastic/paper cup free include:
- Takayna Ultra (Raises money to save the Tarkine Forest in Tasmania) This event is a cut above the rest from a sustainability and climate point of view
- Ultra Trail Australia (plastic and paper cup free)
- Rapid Ascent Trail Series (paper and plastic cup free)
- Warburton Trail Fest (paper and plastic cup free)
- Wonderland Run Grampians (paper and plastic cup free)
- Two Bays Trail Run (paper and plastic cup free)
- Great Ocean Walk
Supporting events that minimise waste are a good start, however, many of these races could be doing more to minimise waste and reduce carbon emissions from the event.
Use Eco Friendly Running Gear
As I mentioned earlier, ideally we would all be running through the forest barefoot and bare bummed. Now this is unlikely to happen in the near future, so choosing running gear that minimises environmental impact is a good option. However, finding this type of gear can be big challenge! Below we list a few running gear companies that minimise their environmental footprint.
- Patagonia (Recycled plastic and organic cotton running t-shirts and shorts)
- Vivobarefoot (Recycled plastic shoes)
- Kusaga Athletic (Australian owned sustainable runners clothing)
- Merrell Bare Access XCR Sweeper Trail Running Shoes (Partly made with recycled plastic and algae)
Environmentally friendly clothing can be expensive. Remember many of these products are more durable than you 10 dollar target running shirt and will last 3 times as long. Unfortunately until sustainable clothing is the norm, it will remain more expensive. If those that can afford it do purchase sustainable gear, the price will eventually come down and become accessible to everyone.
Plogging (Picking up rubbish whilst jogging)
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference. Plogging is one of these. The Plastic Runner organises local plogging events where you can go for a run, meet like minded people and clean up your local trails all at the same time. Cleaning up your local trails not only reduces the amount of rubbish in the environment but it sends a message to your local community and government that we need to do more. Don’t live near a plogging event? Start your own! You can plog at any time of day or night, with friends or on your own. Register a local plogging event with The Plastic Runner.
Lobby Local Running Events
Local running events are what hold the running community together. Run With Strength and others from the running community are in the process of building a group to lobby Australian running events to implement sustainable practices. We know many runners have an environmental heart and we aim to work with events to help build a sustainable future. This obviously takes time and dedication, however the more support we have = more influence. Follow Melbourne Trail Runner on Instagram for more information on this in the coming months.