How to have an eco-friendly gym routine

Something that makes me sad when I go to the gym is seeing so much single-use plastic. From water bottles, to shampoo, and tissues galore! There’s also a surprisingly amount of littering going on despite the fact that there’s bins everywhere! Not only is a bad for the environment, but it’s disrespectful to the gym staff too. Here’s how to have an eco-friendly gym routine with these zero-waste gym essentials.

Although eco-friendly living isn’t a big topic on this blog, I felt it was more relevant here because of the fitness aspect.

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girl with a yoga mat at the gym

Reusable water bottles

Reusable water bottles are one of the big zero-waste items now and a key one of these zero-waste gym essentials, whether it’s glass or copper. The most commonly discarded item I see in my gym is water bottles, so it’s hard not to have an eco-friendly gym routine without a reusable water bottle.

Most gyms have at least one water fountain you can refill your bottle at. Bringing your own water also leaves room to make lemon water or other refreshing fruity combos to fuel your workout. I find bringing coconut water gives me a boost too, it’s like nature’s natural energy drink.

reusable water bottle - zero-waste gym essentials how to have an eco-friendly gym routine

Shampoo Bar

Mini shampoo bottles are convenient in the gym and travelling but are an unnecessary piece of single-use plastic.

Shampoo bars are one of the best zero-waste gym essentials because they have a massive lifespan. I’ve been caught a good few times washing my hair to find that there isn’t enough shampoo left in the bottle, but shampoo bars last longer than several big bottles of shampoo. You also don’t have to worry about a bottle bursting in your bag and soiling everything anymore either.

Conditioner bars are also a thing.

It also goes without saying that the good old bar of soap is making a comeback for body wash.

If you can’t get a shampoo bar, then a good compromise to extend the life of a mini shampoo bottle by refilling it from the big shampoo at home as much as possible.

shampoo bars - zero-waste gym essentials how to have an eco-friendly gym routine

Solid moisturizer

You’re probably gonna want to moisturize after your shower. I see just as many empty body butter bottles on the gym floor as shampoo bottles.

Thankfully solid moisturizer is a thing, although it’s not as popular (yet) as shampoo bars are. Most kinds of solid moisturizes are balms which means they don’t contain water, so are more suited to damp skin which is ideal right after a shower. But there are some creams and lotion versions of solid moisturizes which can be used anytime.

Hopefully solid moisturizes get trendy.

soap bar - how to have an eco-friendly gym routine

Low-waste deodorant

Your gym bag is gonna be filled with so many bars of soap, shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizers that it might get difficult to differentiate between them. There’s no point showering if you’re gonna skip the deodorant and later smell like you didn’t shower at all, so you can still smell good and be green at the gym.

Deodorant bars do exist and are the best option, personally I’ve yet to find a deodorant bar I like the smell of which I use low-waste deodorants like ones in a cardboard container that’s recyclable and deodorant balms in tins which are also easily recyclable. I go for whatever’s available so long as it’s green, vegan, and natural.

a girl putting on deodorant

Small towel

My gym is a nuisance for leaving out big blue paper towels to wipe down everything, of course, it’s with good intent because hygiene is important, especially in an environment like this. Wiping down equipment is very important, but I see the bins literally overflowing with blue paper towels, so it’s one of those that make being green at the gym hard. The considerate thing to do for the environment and for your fellow gym members is to take your own small hand towel and use that to wipe down equipment when you’re done.

small towels - zero-waste gym essentials

Make-up removing cloth

Personally I go over to the gym before starting my day so I don’t need to take my make-up off, but everyone’s lifestyle is different, and I see lots of people taking off make-up before or after their gym session.

I’ve gone into the changing room many times to find cotton pads all over the floor, so this is a big way to be green at the gym or be wasteful!

Make-up removing cloths are magical. All they need is a little water and it can effortlessly remove your make-up. I actually think they’re better than reusable cotton pads because cotton pads still need a cleanser which usually comes in a big plastic bottle.

These aren’t even just a zero-waste gym essential, but an every day zero-waste essential! I swear by the Penney’s/Primark ones but I believe Boots sell them too.

face cloth - zero-waste gym essentials

Zero-waste protein bars

Protein bars are super convenient but most are also single-use plastic. Another way you can be green at the gym is to can make your own DIY (ideally vegan) protein bars from scratch and wrap them in wax paper, or you can do it the old fashioned way and have some nuts and seeds after your workout.

You don’t actually need to eat protein within 20 minutes of finishing your workout like the urban myth suggests. The best time is within two hours, so you have time to go home and actually make a protein (and carbohydrates – the ideal ratio for a postworkout snack is 1 protein to 2 carbs) rich snack, but you can still leave it till about 4 hours later but chances are you’ll have eaten by then anyway.

home made protein bar - zero-waste gym essentials how to have an eco-friendly gym routine

What else can you do to have an eco-friendly gym routine?

Other ways to have an eco-friendly gym routine is to join a gym close to you. If your gym is within walking distance, why not walk over and back as your warm-up and cool down? If you have to drive or take public transport, a closer gym results in fewer emissions which is a step in the right direction.

Shop mindfully for your active gear too. Activewear is big on fast-fashion sites now since it’s become trendy to wear yoga pants all day every day, however, opt for a few good quality pieces that will last a long time, rather than a pair of leggings for every day of the week. Several brands sell activewear and swimsuits made from recycled material which is wonderful! Although I mostly shop secondhand for clothes, I feel uncomfortable getting secondhand gym wear which is why companies that make theirs from recycled ocean plastic are a godsend!

two girls high fiving doing planks in the gym

Do you have an eco-friendly gym routine? Check out my post about the dark side of the fitness side social media.

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