How runners can do something for the environment (without going crazy)

However you look at it, the running world is also being affected by climate change. One may or may not agree on the causes but the effects are obvious, especially in many international competitions. By now, it is no longer a matter of personal perception: the marathon for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (actually 21) was run 400 km from the capital because of excessive heat; more than 21 runners died in an ultramarathon in China; air pollution is considered responsible for at least 8.7 million deaths a year. Everywhere races are held at the limits and beyond human endurance, resulting in sickness from excessive heat.

Damian Hall is among a group of runners who are particularly sensitive to the issue. Their name is-by its own admission-not very original: they are called The Green Runners.
Since they count scientists and professionals among them, they did not just equip themselves with a T-shirt bearing their name (quite the contrary! One of the groups that led to the formation of the Green Runners is called “Trees Not Tees”) but they have developed a program of action based on what they call “The Four Pillars.” By respecting them, living and running with these rules in mind, according to them, you can do something and make an impact in the fight against climate change. Maybe not arresting it but at least slowing it down.
Let’s see what they are, as Damian himself tells them on Trail Running.

1. Transportation

Running and racing is undoubtedly a way to travel, and so many bring together the pleasure of travel with the pleasure of competition. Damian and his group suggest, however, that races should be limited to local races or those that involve limited travel, perhaps by bike or train.
Far away races, so distant as to require the use of air transportation are therefore to be avoided.

2. Power supply

The argument in this regard is very rational and practical: animal farms have a devastating impact, whether it is meat for human consumption or dairy and fresh produce.
Yet runners need proteins, don’t they? There are many vegetarian and vegan alternatives and you can find a variety of them on Runlovers, just enter Iaia’s kitchen!
In this regard, let me add my point of view: there are still intermediate nuances. Not all of us are ready to give up meat overnight. What we can do, however, is to limit its consuption to at most a couple of meals a week, replacing it with legumes and grains, of which we are particularly fond. Or, as Damian advises, consuming meats that have less impact, such as lamb, pork or chicken.
Consider, however, that switching to a totally vegetarian diet can reduce your environmental footprint by up to 73 percent, according to experts. Let’s aim for that percentage but maybe get there in stages, shall we?

3. Apparel

“All the running shoes made in history are still on planet Earth and will probably live ten times longer than we do,” says ReRun Clothing co-founder Dan Lawson. What he means is that the shoes or apparel we train in are made of materials that have a very heavy impact on the environment, both in production and distribution and finally disposal.
How to deal with the problem? First by overcoming the myth of shoe durability being limited to 5-600 km, and then by favoring quality apparel to be bought in small numbers and used until the end. While putting pressure on companies to adopt serious recycling policies and activate remanufacturing plans for clothing and shoes (as Patagonia has been doing for some time, or as Italy’s La Sportiva does for shoes, for example).

4. Let’s talk about it

Damian is aware that some-if not all-of these three “pillars” of the eco-conscious runner are not easy to climb at the same time. However, it is not only an effective program if it is carried out in its entirety: it can also be approached in parts, at least those that we find it easiest and most natural to do. Becoming partially vegan? Perhaps. Traveling less? Let’s talk about it. Buying less apparel or fewer shoes, favoring brands that are truly environmentally conscious? It can be done.

The important thing-and this is the fourth pillar-is to talk about it, to be aware of it, and to make your voice heard so that you are heard by brands. The tool consumers have in their hands is that of the market: if certain products are no longer purchased they stop being produced. If certain companies have a bad environmental reputation, sooner or later they will suffer the consequences, especially today and as environmental awareness becomes more and more widespread.
And that one does not pollute or harm the environment. In fact.

(Main image credits: Tataks on


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