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People across the world are becoming more environmentally conscious , and the fitness world is taking notice. From eco-friendly exercise technology to gyms with electricity-generating equipment, the “greenification” of the exercise and fitness movement is underway. Here’s a peek at where sustainability is finding its place in the world of personal health.

Fitness Technology
Technology is finding its way into every
aspect of our lives nowadays, and our exercise routine is no exception. Fitness trackers like the Fitbit and Jawbone, for Fitness Technologyexample, have quickly become the newest fitness trend sweeping the nation. By 2018, some research suggests there will be as many as 60 million of them on the market!

To bring that green flavor to this increasingly popular product, Misfit Wearables unveiled a new solar powered fitness tracker earlier this year. Dubbed the Swarovski Shine, the new tracker integrates a solar cell into its design so it never needs a replacement battery or wired charge. It’s fashionable too, adorned with blue and violet Swarovski crystals and a large crystal that acts as the tracker’s display.

When you’re not obsessively looking at your wrist to track steps and calories, you may soon be able to generate electricity in your home just by working out. The UpCycle Eco-Charger is a relatively new device from The Green Microgym, and is meant to be attached to your current exercise bike. The Eco-Charger then turns the movement from your pedaling into electricity –a great extra incentive to pedal harder and break more of a sweat while working out.Fitness Technology

Even if they don’t generate electricity, many exercise equipment brands are integrating sustainability into their product designs. Treadmills sold by The Green Fitness Company are actually refurbished machines, redesigned to be more efficient and eco-friendly. After completely disassembling each machine, any old parts that don’t meet efficiency standards are replaced. After several rounds of quality and efficiency testing, the newly refurbished treadmill is like a brand new machine. They even ship with a “treadmill saver,” a small device that connects to the power cord, indicating to the owner if the treadmill is wasting energy, needs maintenance, or is in need of repairs.

Green Companies
There are more green exercise product companies, fitness clubs, and equipment manufacturers today than ever before. The Green Microgym, for instance – the same company that developed the UpCycle Eco-Charger – is an Oregon-based fitness club populated with electricity-generating gym equipment. The treadmills, stationary bikes, recumbent cycles and ellipticals feed electricity generated during use back into the electrical grid. If your pockets are deep enough, you can even buy a machine yourself to start generating your own electricity.
Green Companies

In the performance-wear industry, companies like Patagonia are developing environmentally conscious clothing lines with a focus on social responsibility. In addition to using organic cotton and more sustainable materials in their clothing, Patagonia donates 1% of its sales to environmental organizations and is completely transparent about its supply chain and where materials are sourced from. 

Gaiam is another eco-friendly exercise product manufacturer, using more sustainable materials in many of its products. Gaiam’s yoga mats are made with natural rubber, its gym bags are 100% recycled polyester, and there’s a collection of clothes made with fair trade, organic cotton. Green Companies

Even performance snacks and energy bar brands are becoming greener. TerraCycle works with a variety of performance product brands to help make their traditionally non-recyclable packages nationally recyclable. Energy bar wrappers can be recycled through our two Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade programs, sponsored by Clif Bar and LARABAR. Recently, we even partnered with GU Energy Labs to open the Performance Nutrition Brigade, a free recycling program for GU Energy Gel packets, drink mixes and energy chews.

Sporting Events and Competitions
Fitness competitions, races, and marathons with huge numbers of participants can get unsustainable fairly quickly. To get an idea of the size of some of these events, the TCS New York City Marathon, one of the largest in the country, sees more than 40,000 finishers each November! With tens of thousands of participants and spectators, the accumulation of waste at these events can get out of hand fairly quickly.
Sporting EventsSports Events

To combat waste and ramp up recycling efforts, most marathons and endurance competitions are beginning to coordinate with volunteers and other organizations to make events more sustainable. The New York City Marathon is just one example of an event doing it right: to date over 455 tons of materials generated at the event have been recycled; runners are given access to a bus network to transport them to the starting line, limiting carbon emissions; leftover food is donated instead of being trashed; and an event-sponsored clothing drive has helped keep over 170,000 pounds of clothing out of landfills. The Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles Marathons, among many others, have all initiated similar sustainability strategies to divert landfill waste and increase recycling rates at every opportunity.  

It’s not just marathons and regional races developing a newfound focus on sustainability. Even professional sports stadiums are becoming more eco-conscious by making stadium grounds less wasteful and less impactful on the environment. MetLife Stadium, home to both the New York Jets and the New York Giants, has been increasing its sustainability strategies for several years now. Not only is the stadium itself made with over 40,000 tons of recycled steel, but it has installed solar panels, started a stadium-wide composting program, and has decreased its annual carbon emissions significantly – the equivalent of removing close to 50,000 cars from the road. 

MetLife isn’t alone: since 2004, every professional sports league in the country, and many sport venues, have started working with the National Sports EventsResource Defense Council (NRDC) to develop customized sustainability strategies and efficiency standards, helping to reduce water consumption and energy use, and strengthen recycling programs. The NRDC also helped start the Green Sports Alliance, a non-profit that works directly with major league sports teams and stadium managers to help reduce their environmental footprints.

What’s Next?
As Americans grow increasingly health conscious, and as consumers continue to show an interest in eco-friendly products and services, we can expect to see more exciting innovations in the worlds of fitness, personal health, and professional sports. It’s the next logical step forward – if we’re putting forth the effort to improve our health, why wouldn’t we extend the same effort to protecting the health of the environment?

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 169 - September 2018
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