FRR and the environment

Running just involves lacing up your trainers and heading out…or so it seems. The simple pastime of running appears to be one with very little impact on the environment.  Members of Felixstowe Road Runners have, however, been thinking about their sport and its green credentials a little more deeply having been involved in an England Athletics consultation group looking at the issues.

FRR members have noted research that shows that 90% of the environmental impact of participation in races, events and training comes from the fuel used in getting to and from venues.  Club members are now making a determined effort to share lifts if they can’t walk, cycle or take public transport to races around the county, to parkrun and to weekly training sessions.

In terms of equipment our runners have recognised the significant impact on the environment of the manufacture of running shoes and their potential disposal in landfill.  The manufacture of a single pair can add a remarkable 14 kg of carbon to the atmosphere and 33 million pairs end up in landfill every year.  FRR members are looking to extend the lives of their current running shoes well beyond the 400 miles suggested by manufacturers, recognising that this is a marketing ploy rather than based on reality.  They are also looking to repair shoes and use them beyond their running “lives”.  Shoes which are no longer wanted but are still perfectly usable can now be sent on for distribution to disadvantaged runners and those shoes beyond further use can be dismantled and reusable materials removed and used again.  Our club is looking to work with such a company to collect in bulk to reduce the impact of transporting shoes for recycling.

Medals and t-shirts, which are awarded to participants in many races, have been considered as their manufacture and shipping have an undoubted detrimental impact on the environment but there are many runners who find these prizes inspiring and useful.  However, future discussion is likely and there are FRR members who now regularly opt to turn down the offer of a material reward for their race participation.  The guidelines being drawn up by England Athletics for clubs organising events may well lead to a future where participation brings about trees not tees, as some races now offer the opportunity to contribute towards tree planting rather than receiving a medal or t-shirt.

All in all, Felixstowe Road Runners are looking to reduce their environmental impact even though they recognise that running is already one of the greenest sports around.  We only want to leave footprints!

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