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Reducing our carbon footprint one running vest at a time!

In the run up to the Bath Half and London Marathon 2020, we have spotted a simple way to reduce our environmental footprint – wearing our running vests again.

Many running vests are used just once and are either thrown away or lurk in cupboards for years. Based on figures from Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and carbon dioxide (CO2) offset sites such as myclimate and CLevel, we estimate the production of the 35 running vests we purchase each year, creates a carbon footprint of 192 kg CO2. This equates to the CO2 produced by one person flying 900km from Bristol to Geneva or boiling 3878 cups of tea!

A recent UK Government paper suggests that by extending the life of garment, the average carbon emissions would be 44% lower (if doubling the number of times it is worn).

With the help of our 2018 and 2019 runners, we are reprinting and reusing our vests. Iprosports, in the West Midlands are renaming our used vests at a modest cost, with Deep Blue Sky, a Bath-based company, generously footing the cost.

So for 2020, we are reducing waste to landfill, our use of finite resources and carbon emissions and to top it all making a saving of £400 – enough for Mentoring Plus to pay for an inspirational group activity and a day trip somewhere for the young people we support. A result for the environment; a result for our young people.

Here are our tips to encourage the re-wearing of charity running vests:

  • Keep vests unnamed – so that they can be easily reused.
  • Educate charities in the environmental and financial benefits of vests re-use.
  • Give vests back to the charity for re-use at or after the event
  • Most races provide a ‘finsher’s t-shirt’ (I won’t go there!) so charities could request that their running vests are returned
  • Write the runner’s name on the paper race number
  • Pin a name on the back of the vest
  • Find a local outfitter to provide a reusable solution such as printed fabric labels attached with velcro
  • Avoid printing any sponsors on the shirts as they may change and render the garment useless – alternatively, use social media to promote and thank them
  • Carefully choose the fabric colour that is suitable year upon year. White never wears well and is difficult to spot in a crowd.
  • Try to avoid corporate branding changes
  • If running tops are personalised, search for a fabric printing organisation who can either remove and replace the name or print a patch over the name.
  • If vests are beyond re-use, then look for appropriate recycling options – ReRun looks to upcycle sporting clothing.
  • It is unlikely that such items would sell in second-hand shops so take to clothing banks for downcycling into blankets, cloths or mattress stuffing. No clean textile needs to be landfilled or incinerated.
  • If you have to buy new, choose a recycled sports fabric.