Helene Wright, a passionate sustainability professional and GB Age Group duathlete and triathlete, shares 7 easy sustainable swaps she has incorporated into her work and training life.
Sustainability doesn't have to be a chore
A lot of people don’t go out of their way to be sustainable because they think that the changes are expensive and require specialty products. But, the truth is there are easy and affordable swaps you can make. It is not difficult or expensive to be eco-friendly, it just takes a lifestyle change, breaking old habits and practice.
Here are a few changes that I have incorporated into my life, that I think many fellow athletes (and non-athletes) could replicate very easily. They are all small changes, but we can all make a difference.
1. Packaged foods > Homemade snacks
Nothing makes you feel like a winner more than getting in a swim before work starts. But if you follow that up with a plastic pot of muesli eaten with a plastic disposable spoon, it rather takes the shine off. Instead, try to make your smoothie or oats at home and bring them in Tupperware. Be organised and prep it the night before, so the next day you’re all set.
Also, try making your own energy bars to limit plastic wrapping waste. A great recipe book I have recently purchased is called Feed Zone Portables, a cookbook for ‘on the go athletes’, which contains lots of great but simple recipes for pre-, mid- and post-training portable snacks.
2. Cling film > Beeswax wraps
Athletes are renowned for being constantly hungry, so one of my eco-friendly staples is beeswax wraps to keep snacks fresh in your bag but without the waste. The wraps are a great alternative to using cling film (1 roll takes 1,000 years to decompose!) and can be reused over and over again. They are also a great way to transport snacks without the need for bulky Tupperware tubs – perfect if you have space constraints in your kit/gym bags! They have a natural adhesive that seals under the warmth of your hands, and are wash clean. If you’re really creative you can even make your own.
3. Single-use plastic > Reusable water bottle
Currently we buy 1 million plastic bottles worldwide every minute, with a single plastic bottle taking 450 years to decompose. By 2050, it’s thought that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, so swapping to a reusable water bottle is a no-brainer! Eliminating single-use plastic from your workout routine is a meaningful step that also justifies buying one of the cool new styles out there right now – I am currently using Sundried’s BPA-free reusable water bottle which is leak-proof and chemical-free.
4. Disposable coffee cup > Reusable coffee cup
We all know athletes love their caffeine, but did you know that because of the wax coating, your takeaway coffee cup cannot be recycled despite being made of paper? Almost all of them are incinerated, exported or sent to landfill because their plastic lining makes them costly to recycle.
Lots of coffee shops now give you a small discount if you bring your own cup, so get your own reusable cup and help cut down on this needless waste. The Sundried reusable coffee cup is double-walled so your hot drink doesn't get cold or burn your hands when you're holding it.
5. Sustainable clothing
Did you know that the production of cotton for fast fashion is the second worst industry in the world for damaging the planet next to oil mining? At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles, 25% of the world's pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton and it is estimated that in the UK alone around 350,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill every year! Brands are now proving that it is possible to create sustainable, ethical clothing without damaging the planet so look out for these when your purchasing your next round of workout clothing.
My two workout staples are Sundried’s Piz Fora training vest which is made from recycled plastic water bottles (how cool!) and Eco Tech® top made from eco-friendly biodegradable material which decomposes in a landfill within 3 years (and is super soft!).
6. Aerosol spray > Natural deodorant stick
Another must for any athlete or gym goer is some form of deodorant to keep fresh smelling. I found Your Nature natural deodorant sticks at a local eco-festival and was quite sceptical at first as I didn’t think it would stand up to its normal supermarket deodorant rivals. However, I was pleasantly surprised and have been using it ever since. Even after heavy training sessions I am still fresh! This particular brand is vegan-friendly, plastic-free, 100% natural, free from toxins and aluminium, plus the sandalwood and bergamot scent is lovely! It may seem more expensive, but I am still on my first stick 3 months after purchasing!
7. Disposable shampoo bottles > Shampoo bar and cork pot
Frequent training often means frequent hair washing, particularly for us ladies. So another way to reduce unnecessary plastic waste is to switch to shampoo and soap bars. I have fairly sensitive dry hair so found the Jason and Argon Oil shampoo bars from Lush left my hair feeling soft. Another benefit is you can get a handy cork pot, which are 100% natural and biodegradable and allow you to transport your bar without any mess!