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Green Fitness Gear

Tread Lightly with Gear that's Good for the Earth

-- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator

Exercise is essential to keeping your body healthy. But you don’t want to leave a trail of empty plastic water bottles, torn polyester running shorts, and dead batteries in your wake. Help improve the health of the earth while you’re improving your own health by choosing environmentally-friendly fitness gear. Here are some tips to get you started.

Shoes. These days it’s pretty easy to find environmentally-friendly shoes. Most footwear manufacturers have stopped using the environmental burden known as PVC (polyvinyl chloride) in their products. To further reduce the environmental impact of your sneakers, look for shoes made with recycled rubber outsoles. And choose shoes from companies like Montrail, which have taken a back-to-basics approach to the packaging of their footwear. All you’ll find inside the unbleached recycled cardboard box is the shoes.

Socks. Socks are a different story. Most socks are made from a combination of bleached, conventionally-grown cotton and synthetic fibers sourced from non-renewable resources. There are alternatives, but you’ll probably have to order them online. A company called Teko sells socks made from eco-friendly materials like wool, organic cotton, and fibers made from corn.

Clothing. After you outfit your feet, you’ll need to outfit the rest of your body. As demand has grown for green clothing options, selection has expanded, making it relatively easy to find full lines of eco-friendly workout clothes. Organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, recycled and even soy fibers are weaving their way into the workout clothing world. Companies like Patagonia, Lululemon and Gaiam carry a great selection of clothes made with these fibers, which are usually grown and harvested in a sustainable manner.

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