For the final part of my Sustainable Athlete series, I want focus on how we can use our reach as athletes to encourage others to adopt more sustainable behaviours using my "Tell, Show, Do" approach.
Opening up conversations about sustainability is the first step to getting others on board with the movement. It’s often hard to start discussions about the environment without others feeling personally attacked but there are ways to navigate these tricky conversations without causing offence.
Here are my top tips for creating a conversation that will get others excited about becoming greener:
One of the best ways to communicate about the planet is indirectly through social media platforms, avoiding direct conversations and reaching larger audiences. For instance, every now and then share an article or video about environmentalism on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram stories.
Talk from a personal perspective
Focus on things that you have found attainable and encourage others to do the same. I use examples of how I am acting sustainably by shopping at charity shops for my clothes and buying food from my local farmers market. By talking from experience, it removes the barrier of perceived unattainability.
Turn a sustainable action into a selfish one
People tend to understand a selfish action more than a selfless one. If someone believes they will benefit from an act, then they will be more likely to try it. For instance, I tend to talk about how going vegan has improved my overall mental and physical health as opposed to the ethical and environmental reasons I decided to move to a plant-based diet.
Get your facts right
Doing the correct research and understanding the facts are imperative before engaging in any conversation around the environment. If you are quoting credible sources and using scientific research, others will be more likely to listen and learn. Bad information will only invalidate your arguments.
Practicing what you preach is imperative. It is important that others recognise that you are implementing sustainable behaviours into your life. Individuals will be curious about what you are doing which opens up a door for non-confrontation dialogue around sustainable living.
Ensure that all your efforts aren’t going unnoticed and showcase your sustainable efforts using these top tips:
Use social media
Shamelessly brag about your sustainable actions by posting them online for all to see. This will encourage others to wise up to the movement and do the same. I often post my thrifted wardrobe to demonstrate that shopping at a charity shop doesn’t mean dressing like your Grandma.
Show people how it’s done
If you want your friends to get amped about shopping plastic free, take them on a trip to your local farmers market. If you want your Mom to realise how much fun shopping second-hand can be, take her to a really nice vintage boutique full of her favourite designers. If you want your grandparents to embrace a plant-based diet, invite them over for a vegan dinner party.
It’s no longer good enough to solely focus on your own actions when it comes to living a sustainable life. We now need to be striving for a global shift in behaviour to save our planet. Ensure that you are using your knowledge and reach in a positive way to help contribute to educating and encouraging others by following my ‘Tell, Show, Do’ approach.
About the author: Laura Smith is an accomplished triathlete and has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
Travelling is a large part of any athlete’s life, whether it’s driving to training or flying overseas for races. All athletes need to get around in a quick and convenient manner which, unfortunately, comes at a devastating cost to the environment. Here are some eco-friendly tips and tricks that will enable you to travel in a more sustainable fashion.
Making your commute to training more sustainable
Up to 75% of urban air pollution is caused by motor vehicle fuel combustion and so it is imperative that we all adopt an eco-friendlier means of travelling to training.
Choose to cycle, run or walk
Incorporate physical activity into your journeys and use them as chance to warmup before arriving at the training facility.
Use public transport
If your destination is too far to cycle, run or walk then take the train or the bus. Public transport is a more sustainable means of travel due to its fuel efficiency and ability to transport a large number of people.
In instances when an alternative mode of transport is not possible, arrange a car share rota with your training partners. This will go a long way towards getting more cars off the road.
Making your overseas travel more sustainable
From 2000 to 2015, the amount of people travelling the world has almost doubled. Now nearly 1.2billion people a year board an international flight which makes the travel and tourism industry account for 10.2% of the global GDP.
Embrace slow travel
Choosing a slower method of transport, such as a ferry, is far more sustainable than flying overseas.
Invest in carbon offset programs
If flying is unavoidable, another means of reducing your flying footprint is to take advantage of a carbon offset program. By giving passengers the option to invest in carbon reduction projects, the programme helps to neutralise or reduce their carbon footprint caused by travel.
The projects may restore or protect forests, develop renewable energy or increase energy efficiency and some bring social benefits to the local communities involved. The most effective of these projects are those that reduce fossil fuel energy consumption through energy efficiencies, replace fossil-fuel based energy with low- or zero-carbon renewable energy, and reduce fossil and other fuel emissions through cleaner energy production.
Use airlines are working to improve their eco credential
Airfrance-KLM and easy jet are amongst those who are making the effort to moderate their fuel usage and adjust their wingtip design to reduce noise and increase efficiency. Cathay Pacific is especially progressive in its approach which includes fleet modernisation, electric vehicle trials, and managing air traffic to avoid lengthy and fuel intensive antisocial circling.
Avoiding changeovers will minimise the excess emissions caused by landing and take-off.
Stay in a sustainable accommodation establishment
Look for certified accommodation providers approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). The GSTC provides a set of minimum requirements that a tourism business must aspire to for approval; including protecting and sustaining natural and cultural resources, maximising social and economic benefits for the local community, and encouraging cultural heritage.
Travelling is an inevitable part of every athlete’s life but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an effort to decrease the impact that your journeys have on the environment. Next time you are booking a flight or are about to turn the key in your car’s ignition, think about the environmental impact that the journey will have on the planet and consider how you can best reduce your carbon footprint.
About the author: Laura Smith is an accomplished athlete and university graduate. She has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
Whether you are a competitive athlete or a recreational sports enthusiast, it’s imperative to fuel your body appropriately. We’ve all read articles about consuming enough protein for muscle growth and repair, eating enough carbohydrates to fuel our training, and choosing drinks with added electrolytes to stay hydrated. What we often neglect to consider is the impact that our diet is having on the planet and how we can eat a more sustainable diet whilst not impacting our performance.
The food we eat contributes to around 30% of greenhouse gas emissions globally and if we don’t take action this figure will continue to grow. To help tackle this issue I have put together my top ten tips for eating your way to sustainability whilst still maintaining the golden ‘rules’ of what an athlete needs to consume in order to perform.
Moderate animal produce
Animal foods have a much larger carbon and water footprint than plant foods. In today’s modern agriculture, we grow plants to feed animals which are inefficient converters of plant matter into food. By cutting out the animals and eating those plants directly we can dramatically reduce our carbon footprint.
You don’t have to take the pledge of veganism to do your part for the environment. Try and make some simple swaps to plant based meat and dairy alternatives which are packed with protein and fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. Whether you opt for meatless Mondays or choose to have one plant-based meal each day, every little will help!
Locally source seasonal fruit and vegetables
Foods that travel long distances have a high environmental impact. Buying seasonal fruit and vegetables from your local market can help to lower your carbon footprint whilst contributing to your local economy. If you can’t live without certain foods in their off season, opt for preserved foods that are lightly processed. Canned and frozen fruit and vegetables are more sustainable than the produce grown in a heated greenhouse or shipped in from another country.
Waste less food
The average household wastes around 30% of the food it buys. A vast number of resources are used to produce food that is never eaten- soil, water fossil fuels, crop inputs.
Food waste occurs at a consumer level and so we can really make a difference by cutting back our waste by:
- Planning out your meals for the week and only buying the produce that you need.
- Freezing items like bread to make them last longer.
- Thinking of creative culinary ways to use up unwanted vegetables that would otherwise be chucked in the bin- use the leaves and stems for mixed salads, the off cuttings to make stock, and the wilted items to make hot pots.
- Use dinner leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Buy food that meets a credible certified standard
It’s important that we start to become more aware of what is on the packaging of the food we consume. There are various logos you can look out for to ensure that the food is sourced and produced in a sustainable way.
Next time you shop, look out for the following logos:
- Fairtrade, which protects farmers and workers in developing countries.
- Freedom food, which protects animal welfare.
- MSC and ASC, which ensures sustainable seaweed production.
- RSPO, which guarantees that the standard of palm oil production is sustainable.
Avoid Highly Processed Food
The more steps involved in food production, the higher the carbon emissions due to the transportation, manufacturing, and distribution involved. A sports nutrition bar or powder with a long list of ingredients is highly processed and therefore has a high carbon footprint, compared to a handful of nuts or piece or fruit which comes from one food source with minimal processing.
Try these real food swaps to replace your favourite sports supplements:
Raisins instead of sports jellybeans
A more natural way to get your carbs in during moderate to high intensity exercise.
Homemade rice cakes instead of sports gels
White rice is high in fibre and calories for both during and immediately after training.
Chocolate milk instead of recovery sport shakes
Providing water and sodium to rehydrate, carbohydrate to refuel, and protein to repair damaged muscle fibres.
Beet juice instead of nitric oxide
Naturally high in nitrates which have been suggested to increase blood flow to your heart and muscles.
Coffee instead of a pre-workout formula
Packed full of caffeine, coffee can increase endurance performance by an average of 26%.
Buy organic foods
Organic food regulations significantly limit the synthetic pesticides that can be used in crop production which supports more sustainable soil practices; such as the use of cover crops, composting and manures.
Look out for organic food swaps on your next grocery shop, you’ll be surprised how affordable they actually are.
Reduce food packaging
Packaging can make a huge impact on sustainability, as it can fill up landfills. Fruit and vegetables have a natural wrapping and do not need to be encased in plastic. Companies are now wising up to the need for packaging modification to help combat our waste problem.
Choose to buy loose fruit and vegetables and look for brands that have the least amount of packaging to help reduce the waste that goes into landfill.
Limit your number of food shopping trips
Travelling to buy groceries is very impactful in the number of miles food travels to get to your plate.
Try to limit the number of trips you make and condense your food travel trips to reduce your travelling carbon emissions. For example, if you’re headed to the farmers market, do all your food-related trips in that nearby location for the week.
Grow some of your own food
The most sustainable way to obtain food is to grow it yourself as there are no food miles involved, no packaging, and no use of fossil fuels.
Even if you start with just one herb pot on your patio and progress overtime, that’s one thing you don’t have to buy on your supermarket shop.
Initiate conversations about sustainable eating
Perhaps one of the most important things we can all do is start conversations about the importance of sustainable eating. By sharing experiences, knowledge, and resources we can begin to foster a much more sustainable attitude towards food consumption.
Whilst we proceed with training and live our busy lives, it is very easy to forget that the food we eat has a huge impact on local communities and businesses, individual farmers, and the environment. It’s imperative that we all take a step back and start to consider how our diet is impacting the environmental, social, and economic concerns.
Do your part to support a greener, healthier and fairer future for our world, and start your journey to a more sustainable diet.
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this blog, look out for next month’s edition of this blog series on how you can be a sustainable athlete.
About the author: Laura Smith is an accomplished athlete and university graduate. She has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
Hi, my name is Angela Dower, I’m a wife and mum to three amazing children aged 18, 15 and 11. My sporting background began in South Africa, where as a child I competed in equestrian sports. I was horse crazy! Fast forward 20 odd years and I began training at my local gym as an indoor cycle instructor. I always aspired to look more muscular and less ‘skinny fat’, but didn’t seem to be able to achieve that ‘look’, much to my frustration.
A massive international move later, 3 small kids in tow, we settled in the UK. My husband and my ancestry is here (mine is Scottish) so it really felt as though we had ‘come home’ and we’ve never looked back. The first thing I did was join a gym and it was there that I began weight training and within weeks I could see my body transforming. This lead me to compete in several fitness model and bikini model competitions where I was lucky enough to place; a wonderful reward for all the hard work and dieting that went into it.
Recently, my life has had a major turn around. This is, in part, thanks to Sundried. When I was first approached by Sundried around 6 months ago, I watched the Netflix documentary ‘The True Cost’ which I saw mentioned on their website. The documentary shows the horrific side of the fashion industry where people are exploited, abused and in some cases killed in the name of ‘fashion’. I never realised what went on behind the scenes of this industry.
I’m hugely proud to be part of the Sundried community, where ethics, innovation and sustainability are at the forefront of it all. This documentary led me on to others on Netflix and I was introduced to another horrific practise...factory farming. I watched and cried and cried some more. Why you ask? Not only from a compassionate point of view was I deeply moved, but from an ethical, sustainability, carbon footprint point of view, I realised that as humans we are fast destroying our beautiful home, Earth. So the major turn around I mentioned? I stopped eating animal products. Just. Like. That.
Being an athlete, I’ve been questioned time and time again where I’m getting my protein from. And my answer is, plants! If you look at the biggest strongest animals on earth: elephants, buffalo, gorillas; their diets are plant-based. If you eat a wide variety of plant foods, you’ll be getting enough protein. Some vegan athletes, to name but a few, are ultra marathoners Rich Roll, Scott Jurek, Fiona Oakes and Ruth Heidrich as well as bodybuilders Torre Washington, Amanda Riester, Jim Morris and Dusan Dudas.
So in a nutshell (nuts are a great protein source too, by the way) I’m now training, just as hard, just as heavy, and am purely powered by plants. It feels great! I’m full of energy and love knowing I’m doing my bit for the environment and the animals. I really hope I’ve managed to inspire even just one person to give plant-based a try.