The use of water bottles has become the main focus of sustainability in running. The familiar sight of thousands of discarded plastic bottles strewn across a road, used for only a matter of seconds each, has evolved into a very uncomfortable image for organisers and participants alike.
Technological developments continue apace for plant-based solutions, with some events experimenting with innovative dissolving algae wrapping or other plant-based bottles. And there is another area of the sport showing signs of development.
Running apparel is a cornerstone of the sport, with millions and millions of vests, shorts, socks and shoes bought and donned by runners every year. The vast bulk is made using polyester, a plastic fibre, and not a very sustainable one either.
Polyester forms 18% of all plastic produced globally. An estimated 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make polyester around the world and it takes more than 200 years to decompose. I am not alone in having a drawer or two full of running tops, several awarded in goody bags post-race. I'm sure I am not the only one wondering ‘why?’
So, what is the solution? Well, there are brands now looking at this issue. In the case of Provis Sports, they are drawing the issues together and are making reflective garments from recycled plastic bottles. Outdoor adventure specialists Patagonia are another brand setting new standards in sustainability in their use of organic cotton and recycled materials.
Closer to home, ground-breaking vegan football club Forest Green Rovers have premiered a new kit made in part from bamboo fibres this season. Sport is making some tentative steps towards sustainability and with runners more likely than most having a passion for the great outdoors, brands who set the pace will find runners willing to follow in their footsteps.