Action of the month: Get moving and go green!
We’re often telling kids to go play outside. But fortunately, this is something we can all do! Young or old, being in nature recharges your batteries. Studies have confirmed that human beings need contact with nature. It makes us feel safe and calm, is essential to emotional development and improves mental health and concentration. Some even say that the city feeds your ego, and nature feeds your soul.
It makes sense to think that people who enjoy the outdoors want to protect nature. So we’ve come up with some habits to adopt when doing outdoor sports or activities to keep the planet healthy: choose green ways to get around, choose snacks wisely, go green with clothing and equipment and take part in sustainable sports events.
We’re not all lucky enough to live near a forest, on a mountaintop or by the sea. But there are ways you can get to your favourite place to do sport other than solo driving.
Ever noticed the ‘sport’ in ‘transport?’ For short distances, you could bike or run. It’s a great to way to improve your fitness and help reduce GHG emissions.
Colleen Thorpe, our colleague and Équiterre’s Director of Educational Programs, shows how to put the ‘sport’ in ‘transport’. She bikes to Mount Royal and then goes cross-country skiing. Way to go, Colleen!
Alternatives to active transportation include public transportation, car sharing, carpooling and driving an electric vehicle. Why not talk to people in your team or sports association and suggest carpooling? Or use the shuttle services provided to ski resorts in winter. As well as being green ways to get around, you get to enjoy the après-ski or a post-exercise beer without having to worry about driving!
Have to fly because you’re going surfing in Nicaragua or climbing Aconcagua? You can offset carbon emissions generated by air travel through Canadian organization, Planetair.
How to be a champion: Cut down on packaging!
Did you know that it takes three litres of water to produce one plastic bottle? That’s several times more than the amount in it. (See Une bouteille de plastique, un mélange toxique [Plastic bottles, a toxic mix]. Everyone knows how easy it is to use reusable bottles, but many will say they don’t always have one at hand. A little tip: keep one at the office, one in your sports bag and one at home. That way, you’ll always have one handy!
If you use a reusable bottle but like drinking bottled energy drinks, why not make your own? It’s quick, delicious and will save you money! All you need is fruit juice, water and salt. Check out this recipe.
The portion sizes of individually wrapped snacks are usually too small for athletes. It’s smarter, greener and cheaper to buy snacks, such as nuts and dried fruit, in larger quantities and divide them into reusable containers at home. Did you know that dried figs used to be the go-to energy food for Tour de France athletes? Find out where to buy food in bulk.
The best post-exercise reward or energy boost for expeditions is chocolate. Everyone at Équiterre will tell you that Canadian co-op Camino’s chocolate is to die for! Learn more about the dark side of the conventional chocolate industry and the clear benefits of fair trade for both producers and the environment.
Meat- and dairy-free snacks and meals are ideal for trips: they’re easy to carry and don’t need to be refrigerated. And what’s better than biting into a fresh, local organic fruit or vegetable to boost your energy? Sign up for an organic basket at anytime of the year for a supply of tasty snacks—no unnecessary packaging guaranteed!
And lastly, don’t forget to leave no trace on nature trips. Leave No Trace Canada is a non profit organization dedicated to promoting responsible outdoor recreation. You’ll find the principles of outdoor ethics on the website: plan ahead and prepare, dispose of waste properly and leave what you find.
Clothes don’t make the man . . . or the athlete!
Yes, equipment is essential for sports and outdoor activities. But it’s easy to be swayed by fashion fads and endless marketing that say this or that product will enhance your performance. Did you know that fashion is the second most polluting industry after oil, and is responsible for 20% of the world’s water pollution? That we buy four times more clothes than we did 20 years ago and that it takes 2,700 litres of water to make just one cotton t shirt?
Extend the life of your equipment by buying or exchanging used items. You’ll save money and reduce the negative impacts associated with manufacturing and disposal. You can also donate sports equipment you or your children no longer use so others can enjoy them.
● Find out where to buy, sell and donate used sports equipment.
● Encourage your sports association to organize a used sports equipment exchange at the start of the season.
● Join Facebook resale and swap groups like Vente et achat de matériel de plein air et articles connexes [Buy and sell outdoor equipment and related accessories].
Before throwing away broken equipment or damaged clothing, take it to a clothing, equipment or shoe repair shop. Sustainability pioneer Patagonia has even launched the Worn Wear initiative. The company buys back Patagonia clothes, repairs them and resells them in stores. Here are some businesses that provide a maintenance and repair service for outdoor and sports equipment.
If you really have to buy something new, opt for good-quality, durable clothing made from recycled fibres or organic fabric. Did you know that some polyester clothing is made from recycled plastic bottles and old clothes? A sport shoe made of recycled plastic was recently launched in collaboration with an organization whose mission is to clean up oceans and preserve marine life. Each pair is made from 95% recycled fishing nets and the amount of plastic in them is equivalent to 11 plastic bottles. Here are some businesses and stores that use eco friendly fibres.
So what are the best brands? According to outdoor co-op MEC (Mountain Equipment Co op), six stand out: Patagonia, Prana, Tentree, United by Blue, Burton and MEC. Each one has good practices in place: use of eco-friendly materials (PVC-free, organic cotton, recycled materials, Blue Sign approved), fair-trade certifications, waste and water management, participation in “1% For The Planet” program, various partnerships, sustainable buildings and transparency. MEC actually eliminated single-use bags from its stores in 2008, which means it keeps about 3.4 million single use bags out of the landfill each year.
No one wants their children to play with a soccer ball made by other children in southern countries. So why not buy fair trade certified sports goods? Here’s where you can do it.
Sustainable sports events
Unfortunately, major sporting events and tournaments generate a lot of waste. So what can you do to help reduce waste and the environmental impact of promotional products, which are often unnecessary? First of all, before accepting a promotional item, ask yourself: Do you need it? Was it made with recycled or recyclable materials? Was it made with sustainable materials? Will it last? Where was it made? Is it overpackaged? You could also talk to the event organizers, sponsors or your sports association, make a few suggestions and let them know you’d like to see a few changes.
This is also a perfect opportunity to invite you to take part in the second edition of the Change the World with Équiterre event, the first 100% sustainable run in Quebec. It will be held on May 27, 2017, on Mount Royal in Montreal. Set the date in your agenda, get more details here and find out more about the 2016 edition of the run.
#notrehiver To Protect Our Winters campaign with MEC and Équiterre
If you tag a photo with #notrehiver on Instagram before March 21, MEC will donate $2 to Équiterre to raise awareness and mobilize the fight against climate change. So get outside and play, and share your photos! On top of that, Parks Canada is offering free access to all national parks. Get your pass today.
Want to learn more about green sports practices or share some tips? Check out Équiterre’s Sportifs pour la planète [Get sporty and go green] campaign and write to us.
Be good to your health and the environment: go play outside!