RUNNING GREEN: 7 SURPRISING WAYS TO MINIMIZE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT WHILE YOU RUN

Spring is just around the corner. New leaves. New life. New growth. It’s the time of year that invites “green” thoughts.

Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions you create as a result of your everyday life. (Calculate your current carbon footprint .) While you’re running and working out to improve your health, it might surprise you how easy it is to take steps to improve the health of the planet at the same time.

Integrate Your Training. Look for ways to combine your training with the demands of everyday life. Every time you jump in your car ask, “Could I bike or walk instead?” Instead of endlessly circling the parking lot like a mako shark, searching for the perfect (read: nearby) parking place, park in the first spot you find and walk.

Refill Your Water Bottle. Just say no to plastic, disposable bottled water. Turn on your tap and fill your refillable bottle instead. Refill. Reuse. Repeat as necessary.

Shower Shorter. Let’s be clear here: no one is suggesting that you skip you post-workout shower. But, honestly, how long must that shower take? If your shower doesn’t have a water-saving fixture, install one. You’ll go from using over 7 gallons of water per minute to using about 2 ½ gallons. Then, shower with the same efficiency that you run your workout. Don’t dawdle. Every minute less you spend in the shower makes the world a little greener.

4 Cool Down. Most water heater manufacturers have the heater set for 140 degrees. But most heating needs require only 120 degrees. Turning down the thermostat in your water heater can save nearly 200 pounds of CO2 per year, by some estimates. You’ll never know the difference while you shower – and you’ll save about $100 a year. Cool!

5 Sage Advice.  There is no better time to kick the coffee or tea habit. If you factor in the growing, harvesting, roasting, and exporting of beans, the seed-to-cup carbon footprint of coffee can be as high as 11 lbs! Tea’s carbon footprint depends largely upon how it is grown, cured, and packaged for sale. Why not switch to grow-your-own pesticide-free tea like peppermint or sage and take a huge, healthy step forward?

6 Make the Most of Compost. Of course you already recycle things like plastics, paper, metal, and glass. This spring, add food and other organic biodegradables to the list. Skip the garbage disposal and start a compost pile. Put your leftovers to work instead of sending them to the landfill or the sewer system. Turn them into rich soil. Healthy soil = healthy plants. Healthy plants = healthy air for you to breathe while working out.

Run a Virtual Race. Virtual races are the green runner’s dream. No paper! No travel! No hotel stay! Simply sign up online, map out your own race course close to home, then run at the appointed time. You’ll join runners all over the world, support causes that are important to you, run with your regular running buddies, have a blast, and even collect cool prizes all while making a minimal impact in your carbon footprint. Win-win for everyone.

(Want a virtual race to try? Check out the Against the Wind 5K Virtual Race, March 31, to benefit the Dick Beardsley Foundation.)

So why not take a few moments to re-evaluate the greenness of your training? Make a few tweaks as necessary, then spring forward into the new year. You may be surprised at how easy the changes are to make

Ami Hendrickson (www.amihendrickson.com) is a bestselling author and award-winning screenwriter. Ami is the ghostwriter for several internationally recognized master horse trainers and other notable experts. She is the Social Media Director for the Against the Wind 5K Virtual Race on March 31 to benefit the Dick Beardsley Foundation. (Blog: http://atw5k.blogspot.com . Twitter: @ATW5K)

Some of Ami’s favorite things (in no particular order) are: riding her Percherons, teaching writers workshops, drinking good coffee, smooching her husband or snuggling her daughter during a movie.  She and her family live with their “vast menagerie” on a 100+ year-old farm in southwest Michigan. She blogs at MuseInks.com. On Twitter: @MuseInks

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