At a time when people are arguing about how warm an apartment should be in winter or how often you should shower, everyone is certainly thinking about what he or she can do to combat climate catastrophe and the energy crisis. Sustainability is the magic word. I am convinced that saving the climate and our future should not be the responsibility of each individual, but definitely the responsibility of politics. But since sustainable behavior can also save everyone money and is good for your own conscience, I thought about how I can make my sport and the associated burden on the environment, climate and resources a little more sparing. Of course, this post does not claim to be complete, but is intended as food for thought. So if you have a different opinion or other suggestions, I would be happy about your comment.

It doesn’t always have to be new, buy used.

In the 80s, it was once very fashionable to buy secondhand. I can still remember that my mother bought there without great financial need, whether children’s clothing or for adults. Buying used running clothes is also (or probably especially) today always a sustainable option to save your wallet and the environment. A running shirt, running backpack or the otherwise quite expensive rain jacket that does not have to be produced for me, consumes no further raw materials and does not have to be transported from the Far East to Europe. On Facebook you can find, among other things, the group Trailrunners Börse, in which runners often sell or exchange no longer needed equipment and clothing for little money.

Buy quality running clothes and save on your bottom line.

I think it’s no secret that higher-quality products usually last longer and are therefore more sustainable. The cheap running pants from the discounter may also last two years (or even longer), but somewhere the manufacturer has to save on the material at the low prices. High-quality clothing is usually significantly more expensive than the cheaper alternative at first glance, but if it then lasts longer, this is put into perspective again. If that’s too much for a one-time investment, you can replace worn-out pieces as you go.
You can usually find high-quality running clothes at your local retailer rather than on the big online shopping platforms, at least you can convince yourself of the quality at the local retailer.

Use your clothing also outside of sports.

How would it be if you could wear your running shirts in everyday life or maybe even to work without any problems? I’m not just talking about the fact that you can give worn-out running shoes a second life as casual sneakers, but that there are clothes that are both. Casual and sportswear. I was recently allowed to test two exciting young clothing brands here, which implement the concept of sustainability quite well. The products from YMR Track Club and Iron Roots, for example, don’t look like typical running clothes and rely on sustainably produced raw materials. The shirts are made of lyocell, recycled plastics or merino wool and look really good in casual wear.

Also just buy nothing

This is also sustainability, because what is best for your wallet and the environment? Every running shirt and every running shoe that you don’t buy saves both resources and money. Sounds totally easy and it is. Take a look in your closet and answer yourself the question which running pants you have worn so rarely that you really didn’t need to buy them. I am sure that you will find one or the other piece in your closet. That’s the case for me and these shirts or products that were given to me for my test reports are ideal candidates for swap and sale exchanges.

Give broken things to repair

Some manufacturers offer you a repair service for their products. What should be self-evident, is unfortunately not yet so widespread in the sporting goods industry. The German outdoor brand Vaude, for example, offers extensive instructions for care and repair of its products on its website. The U.S. company Patagonia even offers a free repair service, and its founder Yvon Chouinard recently gave 100% of the company’s voting shares to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and 100% of the non-voting shares to Holdfast Collective.
German shoe manufacturer Joe Nimble, whose founder Sebastian was recently a guest on the podcast, talks about the three lives of his running shoes. So sustainability and sporting goods manufacturing are not mutually exclusive.

Support your local running event

Admittedly, that I have so far only had tips on consumer behavior is more or less significant. Running, even if it is actually cheap and does not require a lot of stuff, is also always characterized by buying things. New shoes, a new running backpack … who doesn’t get weak?
Another important point in terms of sustainability and environmental protection are trips to competitions or to the next trail. There’s certainly more than one worthwhile event nationwide every weekend during peak season that you could sign up for. But let’s face it, is it reasonable to get in your car every weekend to compete? I think you already know the answer. How about a smaller race in your area instead? In the last almost 3 years of the pandemic (that’s how long we’ve been dealing with it, yes.) more and more smaller runs have had to give up because registrations have dropped. In my opinion, it is even more important to run regionally and to visit smaller runs instead of just the big national events.

If you live in the country like I do, you generally don’t need to get in the car for training and can save fuel and reduce your CO₂ emissions. Trail runners in the city may find it a bit more difficult, but a bike path or the tartan track will do just as well for training, and I don’t have the latter here in the country.
For runners who live in Berlin (or elsewhere on the plains), for example, I recorded an episode with Ricarda and Franzi with tips and tricks for training on the plains.

CleanYourTrails – Plogging

My last tip has less to do with sustainability than with conservation, but in my opinion it should not be missing from the overall picture. I call it cleanyourtrails, others call it plogging, what you call it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you do it. Periodically pick up dropped trash on your running route. Whether it’s candy wrappers, plastic packaging or cans, it all has no place in nature and not only looks unsightly, it also poses a danger to wildlife and the environment. The graphic comes from this page and shows you how long cigarettes or banana peels take to decompose. If you have large amounts of trash or things that you can’t or don’t want to dispose of yourself, you can report them to the responsible waste disposal company using the Müllweg app. This usually works well and quickly.