Learning to Live Green by Looking at Where I Don’t
So, it’s January. Just like everybody else, I have joined the masses headed to the gym with increased frequency. Why is that? Because being a vegetarian doesn’t exempt you from gaining those holiday five pounds. Sometimes, it’s not about the health of the food you’re eating, it’s simply about the amount (and perhaps during the holiday months about alcohol calories as well!). I go to the gym regularly and certainly won’t fall into that category of people who only go for a month a year in January and three weeks before bathing suit season starts. However, in an effort to shed the holiday pounds, I’ve been going more frequently, and what I’ve noticed is that the more I go to the gym, the more eco fails I have related to my gym activity.
You might be surprised at how many ways you can damage the planet doing something as healthy as working out. However, I’ve noticed three solid ways I’ve failed to go green about my gym activity. Perhaps you can relate! Let’s discuss common January Gym Eco Fails and ways we can do better at avoiding them.
The Disposable Water Bottle Temptation
It’s possible that nobody hates single-use disposable water bottles more than I do. I also have a comprehensive collection of reusable water bottles and a nice tub of powdered sports drink mix so that I don’t have to use single-use purchases of sports drinks. Yet, somehow, I constantly find myself headed to the gym without my reusable water bottle with me and, subsequently, being forced to grab a disposable one rather than abandon my workout. Every single time I purchase one of these single-use disposable bottles, I feel the guilt. It’s is, without question, an eco fail.
How can I avoid this? Obviously, the most effective way is to ensure there’s always a reusable bottle in your gym bag or locker. My problem is that I tend to remove my water bottle to rinse it out when I get home. Here’s my suggestion: Leave at least two or three reusable bottles in your gym bag or locker so that even if one is sitting at home in your kitchen sink, you have a back up. It’s been working for me lately! Also, if you do have to buy a single-use bottle, be sure you either recycle or reuse it afterwards to minimize your impact!
The Super Long Post-Workout Shower
Particularly because, where I live, it is freezing cold at this time of year, the temptation to use the gym’s endless hot water and energy bill as a way to relax for fifteen or twenty minutes in a steaming hot shower after my workout is often just too much to resist. Sometimes, I don’t even realize that I’ve been in there for fifteen or twenty minutes until I’m out of the shower. It’s cold in the locker room but steamy in the shower, and that hot water feels oh-so-good after a long workout.
How can I avoid this? This one, unfortunately, is simply about diligence. We all know that the energy used to heat the water and also the water itself are both valuable resources that need to be conserved. I’ve taken to posting a note in my locker before I head into the gym that I then have to look at when I open the locker prior to heading to the shower that says “Keep Your Shower Short.” And yes, I reuse the same Post-It note over and over again! It doesn’t always work and sometimes I give into the temptation, but life is a work in progress and I’m becoming more aware of and better able to keep the post-workout showers short.
The Luxury of Towel Service
If your gym has a towel service, then you know how convenient it is to just have them hand you a towel as you walk into the gym. As an added bonus, those towels are often warmed, which is delightful. However, the carbon footprint of a gym towel is pretty significant. Unlike a towel you bring yourself and only launder every week or so, gym towels are laundered after every use, soaking up energy and water. Here’s a little green living tip for you: Bring your own towel to the gym.
How can I avoid this? Bringing your own towel is not as luxurious, but it is a lot more earth-friendly. Much like with water bottles, you’ll be ahead of the game if you always have at least two or three towels in your gym bag or locker so you’re never caught off guard. Most importantly, don’t launder your gym towel every time you use it! It’s only your sweat! Just let the towel air out and reuse it several time!
So there they are – my January Gym Resolution Eco Fails. I’m hoping to get better at all of them. However, mostly I’m hoping that by the time I write my second eco-fail column, I’ve shed those pesky five pounds I picked up over the holidays!