The gyms have not wanted to be left behind and have also contributed their grain of sand. In April 2021, for example, the LifeTime gym chain updated its five-year plan for sustainable development. The company, which has more than 150 stores in the United States and Canada, has set itself the goal of reducing its electricity and water consumption, as well as its plastic footprint nationally.
Would you also like to contribute to protecting our precious blue planet when you play sports? In that case, we have good news! Here are four tips to help you reach your goal.
Use sustainable sports clothing and accessories
Recent years have taught us that fast fashion (ie fashionable clothes that are generally not designed to last) is an obstacle to sustainable development. So what we need is clothes that are made in a more environmentally friendly way and that last for years. This also applies of course to sportswear. That’s why the Gymbassador brand stands on four main pillars: innovative technology, fair production methods, and sustainable manufacturing and packaging materials. As for the latter, their new leggings and sports bras, for example, are made from recycled fabrics, says Gymbassador founder and CEO Rico Hausmann.
While globally less than 1% of used clothing is recycled into new clothing, the collection Vision by Gymbassador is made from 53% recycled fabrics. In addition, this sportswear company uses only sustainable methods to manufacture its items and complies at the highest level with European laws on employment and respect for the environment. In practice, this translates into equal remuneration for all employees. All employees of its production partners earn at least 10% more than the legal minimum wage. Likewise, Gymbassador only uses organic cotton (which has the GOTS seal) from Turkey, where it is harvested and processed by hand by a family business. This has a series of advantages, such as being able to reduce CO2 emissions by 46% and consume 91% less water, that is, 243 liters are needed to make a T-shirt instead of 2,700.
When it comes to equipping yourself to train at home, sustainability takes on a whole new character. You can, for example, choose to buy second-hand items instead of new items. After all, dumbbells are dumbbells. The same goes for pull-up bars and cardio machines. On the other hand, we’re not going to blame you (promise) if you want to buy yourself a new yoga mat.
Adopt environmentally friendly habits
In every gym we find that person who uses four towels and takes 20-minute hot showers. Please don’t be that person. When there are shared resources and some people decide to appropriate a (much) larger share than their share, we refer to the “tragedy of the commons”. We assure you that there are many different ways to drive positive change in the gym, and even inspire others in the process:
- Bring only as many towels, razors, and shampoo bottles as you really need. Try to take short showers: a three-minute shower consumes 45 liters of water, while a ten-minute shower uses 150 liters. If you opt for shorter showers, after a week you will have saved 735 liters of water.
- Pay attention to the number of wipes you use to clean sports equipment. No need to use a new one every time you change machines.
- Instead of always using disposable cups or even plastic bottles to drink water, invest in a reusable bottle. There are endless options available made from so many different eco-friendly materials – like glass or stainless steel – that you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Choose your gym well
Green gyms are not only beneficial for the planet, but also for your health. Stefanie Young, vice president of the US Green Building Council, explains that green gyms generally have better air quality and use fewer cleaning chemicals. “All this influences how users feel when using the space. This is a fundamental aspect, not only from an environmental point of view, but also in relation to the COVID pandemic, which is even more important, ”she says.
The question is this: how can we find a gym that meets all our requirements or how can we promote sustainability in our current gym? Normally, the environmental protection policies of a gym that is truly sustainable should be available to users on its website. Similarly, any business can claim to be sustainable and green, but a quick internet search is enough to see if the organizations they proudly list at the bottom of their website are legit (or not).
Also, if you’re looking for a new gym, we recommend you visit it before you sign up and get answers to some key questions. For example: how is the gym seen from the outside? One of the most obvious signs of energy efficiency is also one of the easiest to spot: exterior walls and windows. The combination of thin windows and cold winters will result in unnecessary and preventable heat loss. In addition, for this same reason it will be difficult to maintain a comfortable temperature inside during the summer.
Finally, and given that heating and the use of electricity are the main factors that influence the carbon footprint of a gym, the use of renewable energies is one of the greatest advantages for these spaces. Finding out if your gym uses renewable energy is relatively simple: check if there are (or not) signs and posters that indicate it. What if you’ve already checked and your favorite gym doesn’t seem to be green? Check with the owner if there are resources available (by public services) around the building that allow access to a green network.
The trip to the gym: every detail counts
As is often the case with everything related to the environment, every little detail counts. You may not always be able to get to the gym by bike, run or public transport, but it is worth trying to introduce this practice into your life at least once a week. Remember that you are also part of the equation, so we invite you to reflect on what you have read and determine what actions you will take to make a change.