Tayte’s Trail Tips Earth Day Edition: Be a More Eco-Conscious Runner

Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

To honor 2019 Earth Day held this past Monday, this week’s trail running tips will help you become a more eco-conscious trail runner. Organizations in the trail running community, such as ATRA member Ragnar Events, are increasing their commitment to sustainability initiatives at races, protecting trails and reducing their carbon footprint. Listed below are my tips for things you can do to join the sustainability movement and protect the planet while running trails.

Run or Bike To Your Favorite Trailhead
It may be more convenient to drive to your local trailheads, but you can reduce carbon emissions by choosing to bike or run there instead. Last August 2018, professional trail runner, Dakota Jones, road his bike from his home in Silverton, CO, to Colorado Springs, CO, to compete at the Pikes Peak Marathon. Jones won the marathon, rode over 600 miles on his bike and did it all producing zero emissions from his car. We don’t have to be as extreme as Jones, but sometimes it’s worth taking a little extra time to arrive somewhere if it means protecting the planet in the process.

Plogging haul by Peter Maksimow.

Start Plogging
Plogging is a Swedish term that describes the activity of jogging and picking up litter. Plogging is catching on in the United States and there are plogging groups across the country cleaning up trails their community. Learn more about plogging from ATRA’s very own Peter Maksimow and his work with the Pikes Peak Ploggers.

Volunteer to do Trail Maintenance
Maintaining trails from season to season takes work from dedicated organizations and volunteers passionate about preserving the trails in their community. Without these groups, we would not have the ability to run on our favorite trails. Consider volunteering in your community to help sustain the trails in your area. For a list of the trail maintenance groups near you, check out this link.

Bring Your Own Reusable Bottle and Bag to Races
One of the greatest sources of waste for most running events is the number of plastic or paper cups used at aid stations. Finding ways to limit or avoid the usage of these cups is an easy way to reduce waste. Contact the race director of your next race to see if he or she provides cupless or reusable cup options. If not, consider carrying your own bottle and refilling it at each aid station. See my previous Tuesday Trail Tip: “Going Cupless at Trail Races” to learn more about what you can do to save waste from plastic and paper cups.

PRO TIP: Also, remember to bring your own reusable bag to collect swag or coupons and leaflets from packet pickup at a race!

Recycle Your Worn Out Shoes
Most runners go through several pairs of shoes in a year, which adds significant amounts of waste to the landfill. The next time you wear out a pair of shoes, consider recycling them instead of tossing them out. There are organizations who will take shoes and recycle their material to produce less waste. Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe Program will recycle shoes of any brand and use the material to make new shoes. Contact your local Nike store to learn how you can recycle your worn out shoes.

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