Be More Green for Less Green: How to Exercise on a Green-Friendly Budget

Rachel Cannon Humiston - Contributing Writer
Posted on Wednesday 13th May 2009

Many of us have costly gym memberships that can be a major expense each month. I generally wouldn’t advocate cancelling a gym membership, since having one in and of itself is a personal feat, but in an economic downturn, possibly having to cancel your gym membership is a reality. In addition to a financial drain, there are environmental downsides as well. Treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, and other machines that are too complicated for me to figure out are energy-powered machines in use virtually all day long. Think of those 3 or 4 towels you use at the gym, from sweat mopping to showering, because let’s face it they are way too tiny to get by with only 1 or 2. Those towels are used over and over each day after multiple washings, eating up bleach and unnecessary water. Oh, and don’t forget about that bottled water you purchase each day from the vending machine, eating up your money and destroying the environment.

Don’t fret. There are many solutions to this predicament. If you plan to cancel your gym membership, you can still work out at and around your home for a much more budget-friendly plan. Go for a run or walk outside, which will cost you nothing but the sneakers. There are web sites, such as, where users can measure and record the distance of their run. You can also find inexpensive bikes for under $100, which would be about the same as only one month’s gym membership. Purchase free weights at your local sporting goods store and find thousands of free at-home exercises online.

If you are going to join a gym or plan to continue your membership, there are ways to keep it green and budget-friendly. The biggest tip is to invest in a water bottle. Why are you keeping Dasani & Poland Spring in business? One bottle of water from a vending machine could cost up to $2 per bottle. If you hit the gym 3 days a week for a month, you’re spending $288 a year on water bottles. On an environmental note, the unfortunate truth is that many places, including gyms, don’t have recycling bins, so those bottles are just clogging up landfills one piece of plastic at a time. One plastic bottle could take at least 500 years or more to decompose. Instead, there are many phthalate and BPA-free water bottles available. I vote for Nathan Sports Steel Flip-Straw Bottles, which have an easy carry handle and can be found for under $25. You can also bring your own towels to the gym. If you end up barely using a towel during your workout, you can reuse your own towel on your next visit. While gyms love bleach since it keeps towels sanitary, its also villainous to the environment. You can skip out on using bleach in your own towel washing at home.

Whether you plan to workout at home or at an exercise sanctuary, you can certainly be green about it and keep your wallet in check.

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