We all know that climate change is damaging the Earth. And while it may sound unbelievable that fitness plays a part, the fact is, this multi-billion-dollar industry is contributing to the global emissions crisis. Companies claim they’re conscious — with corporate responsibility programs — but when you peel back the onion skin, you’ll find little depth or action.
When was the last time you heard a fitness or sports brand talk about the eco aspects of their manufacturing process? You’d be right in thinking never. Yet, this very sector must play a vital role in going green. So, how can we move forward without compromising the industry?
Every year, mankind releases approximately 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, with the fitness sector accounting for 2.3 billion tonnes. This causes the Earth’s surface temperature to rise. If you do the math, it’s not a good outlook.
Exercise is one of the best ways to fill our lives with feel-good energy; to make us live longer and look better. Working out not only benefits our physical and mental health but it can dramatically alter and improve our appearance.
We asked ourselves
What would happen if we used our scientific know-how to make workout equipment with natural and upcycled materials? How would our supply chain look? Would we make a positive difference?
Materials, electricity, and fuel all contribute to the fitness industry’s CO2 emissions, whether that happens throughout the manufacturing process, during transportation, or in-house at the gym. There’s also the end-of-life impact that sports equipment has on the environment (think about all the plastic and metal that ends up in landfill).
Steel is one of mankind’s favourite metals; we’ve been using it for millennia. We return to it again and again because its easy to mould and unbelievably durable. The way steel is made from iron and carbon creates a host of worrying problems. 1 tonne of steel produces about 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide. We’d like to avoid this problem.
Aluminium is made with an amorphous clay-like rock called Bauxite which consists of hydrated alumina (with varying proportions of iron oxide). The end result is similar to steel: it emits harmful carbon dioxide.
In the 1930s, nylon changed the face of manufacturing. It made everyday products instantly successful thanks to its strength and pliability — everything from toothbrush bristles and shoes to the straps found on gym equipment.
Nylon many have transformed household products and made our lives super convenient, but it’s the enemy of nature. Made in massive plants from carbon-based chemicals, it takes 50 to 400 years to break down in landfill.
Since the 1950s, plastic has revolutionised the way we live. It’s transformed the fitness industry with sports equipment, yoga mats, ropes and staps, workout clothes, and shock absorbent floors in gyms.
Unfortunately, all of these plastics contain carbon (derived from refined oil, coal, and gas). Plastics are so widespread because fossil fuels are relatively cheap, but the damage they cause is not worth the price tag.
Plastics have turned our oceans into aquatic tips and they’ve injured and killed animals and birds. They’ve poisoned the land and made people sick. Plus, they take hundreds of years to break down in landfill.
Did you know that many sports, fitness, and athletics brands manufacture their equipment overseas, in countries with questionable ethics? These corporations rarely share their production process, preferring to keep their trade secrets private.
What’s more, smaller companies often bring the same products to retail, but they market them in more palatable ways by pretending that they’re eco-friendly. Unlike the majors, independent businesses are often unaware of where their products originate. If you asked them about their supply chain, they couldn’t tell you.