When you go to the gym, do you feel a tinge of guilt when you press start on the treadmill? Perhaps you release a sigh of exasperation every time someone flippantly throws a towel atop a mountain of barely used laundry. Well, now you can stop your brooding and do something! You can easily reduce your own eco-footprint at the gym and inspire others -- even your gym's owner -- to do the same.
Carry your own water bottle
It's very easy to a find an affordable reusable water bottle. A myriad of companies sell them in glass or stainless steel. And yes, you can technically reuse plastic bottles, but really, plenty of more sustainable and safer options are available.
Bring your own towel
For mopping your sweat and tears off the treadmill any ol' towel you've got lying around your home will do. For extra kicks, bring a small bottle of homemade, organic cleaner to get that exercise equipment a smidgen cleaner. Now for the shower: Consider opting for an organic cotton towel. (Why support the use of pesticides on cotton crops?)
Wear it "green"
No, no. Not the color green, but you probably already knew that. There are so many ways to wear "green" at the gym. Let's start with what holds your stinky clothes. Use a reusable shopping bag, an old purse or, heck, even a paper bag will do. Your gym bag doesn't need to be stylish. Who are you trying to impress? For clothing, consider wearing stuff made from organic cotton, or something from Gaiam's eco-yoga and fitness-wear line. It's all made from natural and organic fibers. Looking to find some sustainable shoes? There are a number of shoes made of sustainable materials that -- as a bonus -- help you run with a mid-foot strike (that puts much less stress on your body 'n' bones).
Ask your gym to consider a recycling program
It doesn't take much to add a few bins marked as recycling. Also, ask them to consider recycling the old magazines people discard rather than tossing them in the trash once they're last month's issue.
Consider switching to a human powered gym
No. You won't be pulling your BFF around using her weight as resistance. The human power we're referencing here comes from your intensity and creates electricity! Now, there aren't too many of these types of gyms yet, but some gyms are making it possible to put your burned calories and power back into the power grid. For example, you're in a spinning class, turning those wheels and grunting along with your fellow workoutees. Each time that wheel turns, a compact generator turns motion into electricity and puts it back into the power grid. Cool, huh?
Recycle old equipment
Ask your gym to recycle old equipment. There are a myriad of programs that recycle old equipment, clothing, yoga mats and climbing ropes. Also, you can pitch in, too! Organizations like Soles4Souls ship your old shoes to people who need them. Check all these recycling programs out.
Cut shower time, use cloth towels and organic cosmetics!
A total no-brainer, but sometimes we all need to be reminded of the simple things.