Have you ever been out on your favorite route, the majestic mountains in view or the pristine beach just out of sight only to see trash littered along the road or trail?
It seems like I can’t head out the door without seeing litter strewn about and it got me thinking: the amount of trash I was producing from sport was not sustainable. Over the last year I have vowed to make a difference by reducing the waste I produce and helping to care for the roads and trails I utilize.
The first step in my journey to becoming an earth-friendly athlete was cutting out single-use plastics. This included single use water bottles, cutlery, to-go containers, plastic sacks, cups, straws and everything in between. The first and easiest step is carrying a refillable water bottle with you. Venues from grocery stores, to libraries, trails, airports and more have installed stations to refill water bottles. It is a simple step to reduce plastic waste, stay hydrated and reduce spending money on expensive single-serve bottles.
Other easy steps I have taken include switching to reusable shopping sacks, no longer using straws or carrying a reusable straw, bringing my own glass container for leftovers from restaurants and getting in the habit of not using plastic utensils.
Snack bags and plastic wrap I used to carry nutrition during and after my workouts required more creativity to stop using. After some searching, I found two perfect solutions to replace these items. Using a sustainably produced organic cotton fabric and beeswax, you can make reusable food wrap within minutes. There are hundreds of tutorials out there, but this one will give you an idea on how to get started. By making different shapes and sizes, I have been able to cover leftovers, sandwiches, snacks and homemade nutrition bars for training and recovery. To stop using plastic snack bags, depending on the occasion, I use these food wraps, reusable glass containers and snack sleeves-a type of reusable snack bag-that can be a DIY project or easily purchased. For over a year, I have not contributed one piece of plastic wrap or snack bag to the landfill. It can seem overwhelming, but within two weeks utilizing reusables became a habit. I have never thought about returning to my plastic-consuming ways.
Next up was my box of old tires and tubes that were sitting in the garage. Switching to the Giant SLR Aero Composite WheelSystem and Gavia SLR tubeless tires has made inner tubes all but obsolete in my bike room, but for many riders who still utilize tubes, there are easy ways to recycle them along with tires. I headed to the Internet to compile a few resources for you all.
1) GreenGuru upcycles tubes and wetsuits to make new gear
2) Get creative and upcycle your old rubber yourself. There are many tutorials that will teach you how to make anything from belts to wallets, doormats, tool kits and even chair seats with your worn out tubes. Better yet grab a few of your riding buddies and make a DIY evening out of it. To start with, you can make this bike tube bracelet!
3) Many local auto shops and bike shops will take bike tires and tubes to recycle. Some may charge a small fee for this service, but others do not.
4) Many communities have local recycling initiatives, check with your city.
With these small but meaningful changes, I have been able to reduce my waste and become a more earth-friendly athlete.