5 Ways Your Workout is Killing the Environment

3. Driving to the Gym   

For every gallon of gas your car consumes, it creates 20 pounds of carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming. The average car emits about six tons of carbon dioxide every year according to Julia Wang of TerraPass, a resource for individuals looking to reduce their carbon footprint. If you live two miles or less from your gym, try biking or walking there. Not only will you save gas and cut down on your carbon footprint, you’ll add some extra burn to your workout. The average 140 pound woman who walks two miles each way to the gym and back would burn about 250 calories a day which adds up to 18 pounds per year.

4. Your Workout Gear

It takes one-third of a pound of agricultural chemicals to produce one cotton shirt in the United States according to the Organic Consumers Association. Therefore, a shirt that says "100 percent cotton" is actually only 73 percent cotton and 27 percent chemicals and chemical residue. Buying organic cotton is of course better for the environment and your own health, but it still takes 720 gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt according to the Pacific Institute. To cut back on the environmental impact of manufacturing your clothes, shop at your local thrift store for workout T-shirts or buy workout gear from eco-conscious companies who close the loop by recycling their old products. Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program collects old athletic shoes for recycling and transforms them into Nike Grind, a material used in creating athletic surfaces (courts, fields, tracks and playgrounds) and some Nike products. Patagonia has a Common Threads clothing program which allows customers to return old clothes to be recycled into new cloth. “When you produce something from raw materials rather than recycled, you use far more energy besides just the raw material," says EarthSmart Consumer founder Kim Carlson. "You use far more energy to produce it than you do to re-manufacture something.”

5. Your Gym

From 24-hour gyms whose lights, machines and TVs are powered up to 24 hours a day, to all the water and electricity used to wash and dry those little white towels, there are many ways gyms consume energy, and by that token, many opportunities for you to suggest greener changes. At the personal level, try to limit yourself to one towel when you’re working out. On a larger scale, try talking to the gym manager. “Plant the seed with them and say, ‘Hey, would you consider making a few changes?’”, says Sophie Uliano, founder of Gorgeously Green, “In this economy, this is tough because a lot of times, they’re just going to look at you like you’re crazy but suggest the things that could possibly save them money such as installing low-flow shower heads.” You can also suggest a chlorine filter for the showers, nontoxic shampoos and body wash in the showers, and contracting a cleaning company that uses green cleaning supplies.

A green workout doesn’t necessarily have to mean running in the park, planting flowers along the way and wearing hemp gym gear. The key is finding manageable ways you can reduce your impact on the environment by making manageable changes in your routine whether it's driving less, using one less towel at the gym and voting with your dollars by supporting environmentally friendly companies.

Check out some more green-friendly fitness gear in our slideshow below.

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