Photo Credit: Getty Images
When we work out, most of us only worry about the calories we’re burning. It probably doesn’t cross our minds that we’re burning through the earth’s resources as well. From the gas-guzzling drive to the gym to all the energy used at the gym to power the treadmills, wall of TVs, launder those little white towels and keep those lights burning 24 hours, that only covers part of the environmental cost of getting fit. Here are the top five offenders along with what you can do to cut back on your impact.
1. Disposable Water Bottles
One of the simplest and most impactful ways to green your workout is to ditch the disposable water bottles. To make these plastic water bottles, it takes 17 million barrels of oil, which is enough to run 100,000 cars for a year according to the Pacific Institute, an environmental research organization based in California. According to the Container Recycling Institute, 70 to 80 percent of the 34.6 billion plastic water bottles Americans buy each year end up in a landfill or incinerator. Not to mention millions of gallons are used in manufacturing the bottles and the two gallons of water are wasted for every one gallon that goes into the bottles through the purification process.
Although metal water bottles are popular and chemical free, your best bet is to go for a BPA-free plastic water bottle like Nalgene. “Plastics are much more eco-friendly than steel (even recycled) because of the energy intensity and toxicity concerns regarding their extraction and production,” says Doug Mazeffa, the research director at Greenopia, a company that conducts extensive research to rate products and companies on their standards of eco-friendliness.
2. Treadmills and Elliptical Machines
Running for 30 minutes on the average treadmill will use .75 kilowatt hours which is “the same amount of electricity you’d use to light up your Christmas tree for 6 hours”, writes environmental reporter Catherine Porter on her blog, The Green Life.
Jump rope, take a group class or go for a run outside. It’s nature’s treadmill.