Eco Sports: Put a Little Eco in Your Stride!

Ami Voeltz
Do It Green! Minnesota

Going green with sports may not be the first thing you think about when it comes to being eco friendly. As it happens, there are more ways to play green than you may think. Aside from the obvious, “Leave No Trace” rule when you are visiting state parks or camping, there are other important environmental factors to consider when playing your sport. The green sports industry has boomed in the last few years, now offering those of us with active lifestyles a few new eco options when it comes to workout clothes and even equipment.

Minnesota has been voted one of the healthiest states the last eleven years through the United Health Foundation. This means a large percentage of us are involved in some type of sport or activity-whether you are a runner, cross-country skier, softball player, hiker, or bicycle commuter, there are choices we make every day that affect the health of our environment.

When active in your sport, consider the following:


  • Practice, play, or train regularly within walking or biking distance of your home, work, or school to help reduce gas emissions versus driving several miles each day to “workout.”
  • If this is not possible, you can form a training group made up of people who live in or near your neighborhood instead of meeting friends across the city to go for a run. This may help you to meet your neighbors or expand your workout circle!
  • Consider running or riding your bike to practice (and get in a longer workout!) versus driving.
  • Buy gorp or fuel snacks in bulk and bring them in reusable containers on your workouts instead of prepackaged power gels or fruit roll ups.
  • Refill a sports bottle with water or powdered energy drink mix instead of buying individual plastic containers each time. This will save you money and reduce packaging waste and travel emissions for the products.


  • Carpool or use alternative means (bike, bus, walk) to games, races or outdoor locations.
  • Consider supporting races, events, or teams that have taken steps to offer a low waste event. If you can’t find any in your area, contact the race director and encourage them to:
    • Eliminate unwanted items in goodie bags.
    • Offer reusable bags as goodie bags.
    • Offer recycling for water bottles and cans.
    • Offer event communications and registration electronically instead of wasteful mailers.
    • Offer refill pitchers for those using water bottles instead of individually packaged drinks.
    • Offer organic and/or fair trade t-shirts or uniforms.

Eco Friendly Sports Clothing and Equipment

  • Look for used equipment and clothing first! For eco friendly clothing, look for organic, fair trade or other “green” seals such as REI’s “Eco Sensitive” line.
  • Popular hydration bottles can leach toxins such as bisphenol-a (BPA) into their contents known to cause cancers and other reproductive and development abnormalities. Plus it affects the taste of your beverage. Try to avoid those bottles with a recycle #3, #6 or #7 on the bottom. These are the worst for you. Look for stainless steel containers instead.

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