There are plenty of triathletes in the UK, and our numbers are growing. There are over 200 official triathlon clubs UK-wide. Triathlon220, the popular UK magazine, now has a circulation of 23500; and the majority of triathletes don’t buy it, preferring to use websites and triathlon forums as their information source. It’s a popular sport, and its growing fast.

The demographics of this group tend to be middle class, white, often with a family, and usually with a steady and decent household income. We typify the Pro-Am revolution: we have superior knowledge about a particular section of consumption – we make informed choices about our often large spending patterns on bikes, trainers, wetsuits, and all means of tri kit and gear. We plan holidays around foreign races, often taking family and friends with us, we have triathlon clubs, running clubs and gym memberships, all at some cost. We (try to) eat healthily and spend a considerable amount of time (typically between 5-20 hours a week) training to achieve our triathlon goals.

Let’s face it, its not a cheap sport.

With these considerably sport-specific, well-thought-out consumption patterns, there’s big potential for us to also make a positive impact on the environment, society as well as the economy. Being eco-friendly isn’t all about growing veggies and wearing vintage clothing: its about tailoring your consumption patterns so that we minimise your impact on the environment and maximise benefits to our communities.

As triathletes, we have already shown we’re capable of wielding large consumer power, by our annual spend on sports-related consumption, in a very informed manner. Why not also use this to reduce your impact on the planet, so that your kids can enjoy triathlon in some of the beautiful places we do, knowing that you did your bit to limit climate change, reduce pollution and preserve places of natural beauty? We enjoy the environment every time we get on our bikes, lace up our trainers, or struggle with the wetsuit (and potentially the neoprene cap if you’re in the UK). Even more so when we race in some of the fantastic locations available to us: Port Macquarie, Florianopolis, Weymouth, the Victoria Docks ;) Why not make sure that your kids get to enjoy it too?

There’s a lot to take in when buying a bike, shopping at the supermarket, organising that trip to the Ironman you’ve trained for all year. But we love organising stuff, right?? Every triathlete suffers from OCD to some extent the night before a major race. I’ve seen you line up and double count those race-gels… So I’m figuring that a little extra work to make sure you’ve done the right thing not only by you, but also by the environment will not be too big a hurdle. And I’m going to help you… here’s how I’m tackling some of the problems we face in being responsible athletes, one step at a time.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Sustainable consumption - clothing

If you're looking for some lifestyle tri wear which will help save the planet and be fair to cotton farming communities, check these guys out:


Not only is the cotton organically sourced so there's no chemical pesticides (studies show organic farming gives more income back to the farmer aswell), and only natural dyes are used, 5% of the retail price goes back into direct action projects involving underpriveledged kids and sport. And plus it is cool too.

To quote their website:

"We offer quality 100% organic casual clothing that captures the spirit, passion and dedication of Ironman triathletes, and triathlon enthusiasts the world of tri triathlon clothing is the ideal choice for post and pre training sessions, and a must have for any triathlon race day!Our triathlon clothing reflects the pride we feel in our performance, and the exhilaration we experience when we cross the finish line, whatever our time and whatever our event.Whether you are a novice triathlete starting out racing sprint triathlons, or a seasoned veteran of Olympic Distance, Half Ironman or Ironman art of tri triathlon organic clothing has a range and design just for you.All art of tri triathlon clothing is made from 100% organic cotton, and packaged using 100% biodegradable materials."

At the moment they are available in some stores in the US, or by mail order until it appears in stores near you!


BabyBreeze said...

Please explain in your own words how CO2 emissions cause warming of the earth's atmosphere. And while you're at it, do you believe that warming of the atmosphere causes more frequent and/or violent storms?

toby said...

Briefly - as there's lots of reading out there on this, which will be better informed, well argued, and scientifically analysed: CO2, among other gases, naturally occurs in the atmosphere and has the property to stop 100% of the solar radiation that enters the earth's atmosphere from being reradiated away from the planet's surface immediately. This means that our atmosphere retains energy, meaning that at the earth's surface we have a temperature above that of space (or just above it as the earth itself gives off heat as well). This is a 'one-way' mechanism because the wavelength of the energy is changed when it is absorbed by the atmosphere and the erath - being reradiated at a different level of energy which is retained to a greater extent by so-called 'greenhouse gases'. Increasing the level of these greenhouse gases (including CO2, methane, even water vapour has these heat trapping properties) will act to increase the effect of trapping energy. We focus a lot on CO2 because - despite its low level of occurence in absolute terms - it has a relatively significant impact in the amounts that we are emitting - the rate of release of CO2 due to anthropogenic causes (burning fossils fuels) is, by natural standards, high. You might argue that methane has four times the effect of CO2, but it is released in smaller amounts and occurs in much smaller quantities in the atmosphere (but we should still be concerned!).

On storms... a small increase in energy being retained in the earth's atmosphere should have an effect on weather patterns. The circulation of air around the globe (Hadley cells etc), and the ocean currents, are the mechanisms by which excess energy from within the tropics (where more direct radiation is received from the sun, therefore more energy received nearer the equator) towards the poles, where the angle of incidence with the sun's radiation is the least steep, and therefore the least energy is received. ie the natural system is moving energy around the globe in order to move towards equilibrium. High entropy at eh equator means more active molecules... energy transferred down the energy gradient. Given that more energy is retained in the equator (assuming that more greenhouse gas emissions lead to more trapped energy in the atmosphere) then it is a logical to conclude that higher entropy will have a knock-on effect on weather patterns. The formation of tropical stroms is one natural way of moving large amounts of energy from excess areas and trying to disperse it in lower energy areas. Storm frequency may well be impacted in some regions. Note that these 'extreme' events get more attention because of the catastrophe scenarios that attract media attention. Just as important will be more subtle changes, where desertification may gradually spread outwards from the equator, as aridity increases, other rainfall patterns will also probably be affected. If the ocean currents shift, for example, the Gulf Stream that brings warmer air to the UK west coast may move, meaning that the UK's climate may get colder on the west coast. Flooding is also an issue that deservedly gets some publicity. If global atmospheric temperatures do rise significantly (whether due to man's influence or not!) then the risk of ice cap melting is severe. Estimates on how much seas level will rise (due to ice cap melting, glacial+snow melting, and due to the oceans expanding due to increased temperatures) offer scenarios where many lowland areas will be flooded.