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.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Climate change accelerating far beyond the IPCC forecast

From BigGreenSwitch (Mon, 20/10/2008)

Climate change is happening much faster than the world's best scientists predicted and will wreak havoc unless action is taken on a global scale, a new report warns.

Extreme weather events such as the hot summer of 2003, which caused an extra 35,000 deaths across southern Europe from heat stress and poor air quality, will happen more frequently.

Britain and the North Sea area will be hit more often by violent cyclones and sea level rise predictions will double to more than a metre putting vast coastal areas at risk from flooding.

The bleak report from WWF - formerly the World Wildlife Fund - also predicts crops failures and the collapse of eco systems on both land and sea.

And it calls on the EU to set an example to the rest of the world by agreeing a package of challenging targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to tackle the consequences of climate change and to keep any increase in global temperatures below 2ÂșC.

The report says that the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - a study of global warming by 4,000 scientists from more than 150 countries which alerted the world to the possible consequences of global warming - is now out of date.

WWF's report, Climate Change: Faster, stronger, sooner, has updated all the scientific data and concluded that global warming is accelerating far beyond the IPCC's forecasts.

Click here to see the full article

Monday, 29 September 2008

Athletes for a Fit Planet in the press

Check out some Athletes for a Fit Planet coverage in the New York Times here and here. Good to see Bruce getting the word out!

Monday, 25 August 2008

EDF Energy Birmingham Half Marathon

Checkout the EDF Energy Birmingham Half Marathon website where there's some home energy efficiency training advice by yours truly. Sign up for the race on October 26th and I'll see you there - and get more energy efficient in your home in the meantime!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

New environmentally friendly training gear

Looks like technical training clothing is changing for the better. A company in the US - Green-Layer clothing - is designing and selling performance and technical gear - so far mainly for running (but watch this space, there may be some cycling and tri kit at some point...) made from renewable sources. All clothing contains at least 50% renewable fabric content, whether recycled polyester, soy-based, organic cotton or bamboo. And it looks good! Check them out! Start replacing your lycra/polyester running kit today...

"There are 5 layers of skin and our apparel acts as the natural 6th layer. It blocks us from rain, wind, sun, cold, and abrasions. This final layer must act naturally like your skin, like your own body. It must be functional, comfortable, flexible, and allow the athlete to focus on their sport, not what they are wearing. The added benefit to our apparel is that it feels technical enough to train for a marathon, yet comfortable enough to wear around town on the weekends. Peak performance fabric and inspiring designs, all with at least 50% renewable fabric content.

Greenlayer delivers a unique blend of athletic apparel and lifestyle product. What makes our apparel unique is the content of the apparel that is made of organic and environmentally friendly fabrics. Any amount of non-eco friendly fabric removed from a garment helps save the environment and our planet's natural resources. We strive to maximize eco-friendly material usage in all of our apparel and donate a percentage of our gross margin sales to environmental causes.

We have a full product range of base layers, outerwear, and accessories that race directors, screen printers, corporate clients, and retail accounts can purchase. Already have a merchandising team? We can help you source. Please contact us for more details. Our products are made from a variety of standard performance fabrics to eco-friendly fabrics, such as Bamboo, Bamboo Carbon, CoCoNa, Polyester Repreve, and Organic Cotton.

Color. Innovative Fabrics. Affordable prices. Sustainable materials. Design."

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Council for Responsible Sport

Mass participation athletic events (marathons, triathlons, bike races, etc) often do not consider environmental impact when making event planning decisions. Generated waste may be substantial, materials are often used once and discarded, and the distances traveled by participants are increasing. At the same time, the number of participants is increasing, certain destructive practices are becoming common, and the items employed to stage events are becoming standardized in favor of profit margin.

With growing awareness of environmental responsibility in mainstream habits and mass media, these events provide the opportunity for a deliberate, high-profile realignment of views toward a planning model that takes into consideration sustainability and environmental impact. At the same time, responsible event production can build value for the event, its participants, and its host community.

A new US non-profit organisation, The Council for Responsible Sport (CRS), provides independent certification for sustainable athletic events. By defining realistic objectives and providing a framework for achieving them, CRS enables event directors to incorporate environmental responsibility into their events while informing consumers which events adhere to these standards.

CRS have produced a set of Draft Standards which assesses an event's footprint along five categories of sustainability: waste, climate, materials/equipment, community/outreach, and health promotion. These proposed standards and the comments offered will be folded into a published standard, set for release in March/April 2008.

Throughout 2008, a set of "seedling" races will guinea-pig the certification process. If seedling events reach defined levels of sustainability set forth in the standard, certifications will be awarded.

They have selected twelve events to take part in a pilot program which will establish standards and processes for a sustainability certification for athletic events - all triathlons in 2008 - representing large and small events in a variety of geographic locations, and including both first-year and established races. The following events make up the "seedling" pilot program:

CB&I Triathlon (May 3, Woodlands, TX)
Keuka Lake Triathlon (June 8, Keuka Park, NY)
Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon in Fairmount Park (June 21-22, Philadelphia, PA)
Deschutes Dash (July 19-20, Bend, OR)
Boulder Peak Triathlon (July 20, Boulder, CO)
Urban Epic (July 26, Portland, ME)
Oregon Trout City of Portland Triathlon (August 31, Portland, OR)
San Francisco Triathlon (November 9, San Francisco, CA)
USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals (September 20, Forest Grove, OR)
Peregrine Charities Triathlon (September 28, Waterloo, IA)
Land Rover Pumpkinman Triathlon (October 18, Las Vegas, NV)
Marin County Triathlon (October 26, San Rafael, CA)

This is great news - improving standards among races in the USA. Hopefully European races will follow suit... At the moment there's no hard and fast rules among the different Ironman franchises for example about sourcing more eco-friendly materials, or reducing the carbon footprint of the races. I hope they take the initiative!

Checkout CRS at or if you are in the US - go support the programme by entering one of the pilot races!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

12 steps to a sustainable food 2012 London Olympics

"The Soil Associations 12 Steps to a Sustainable Food 2012 Olympics 12.12.07
Feeding the Olympics from the Soil Association, Sustain and nef calls on London to deliver the promise to be the greenest and healthiest Games in terms of the food they provide, and sets out how this can be done."

Some great guidelines and targets here... let's hope the 2012 committee consider them. The points are also quite a good guideline for individuals as well - see the steps below (or follow the link) - eg marine stewardship fish to avoid overfished stocks; buying local and organic food as part of your normal shop.

The Olympics are a truely staggering event, not just in terms of the outstanding sporting performance but also in the logistics needed to keep the organisation, sport people and audience going.

Food served at the Sydney Olympics included: Milk 75 000 litres Eggs 19 tonnes Cheese 21 tonnes Bread 25 000 loaves Seafood 82 tonnes Poultry 31 tonnes Meat 100 tonnes

The Soil Association have come up with 12 great ideas to ensure that the 2012 London Olympics really live up to their claims as the greenest games ever.

1. The Food for Life targets of 75% unprocessed, 50% local and 30% organic food should be set as a minimum standard for catering contracts.

2. Food outlets should be encouraged to use 100% UK vegetables and 80% UK seasonal fruit.

3. 65% of the food sold should be vegetarian or vegan, with meat used sparingly in meat-based dishes; 100% of meat and dairy products should be organic and from the UK.

4. Only fish from certified Marine Stewardship Council sources should be used.

5. All tea, coffee, chocolate, and fruit and juice (where imported) should be Fairtrade certified.

6. There should be minimal food packaging, with all waste reused, recycled or composted; 100% composting of organic waste; 100% reuse or recycling of packaging.

7. Free drinking water fountains should be installed throughout all Olympic sites.

8. All possible avenues that would allow local, small and medium sized enterprises to participate in catering activities during the construction phase and the Games themselves should be vigorously pursued.

9. Before and at the Games, there should be visible and engaging food marketing, that inspires and informs the public on the merits of healthy eating and its role in sports, an understanding of seasonal, local and organic produce available and the benefits of various eating habits for the local and global environment. This should include high-profile athletes promoting healthy and sustainable food.

10. All catering staff should be trained in preparing fresh and healthy dishes, and communicating this to their present and future customers, which will provide a sustainable catering legacy.

11. As part of the legacy of the Games, all residents in the new communities should have retail access to fresh, healthy and sustainable food within 500 metres. The new developments should provide space for street markets, farmers’ markets, food-growing spaces (at ground level and on rooftops) and allotments.

12. Building on the Vancouver 2010 Games’ commitment to create 2,010 new food-growing sites, 2,012 new food-growing spaces should be created across London, including community gardens, allotments and roof gardens.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Healthy living 'can add 14 years'

"Taking exercise, not drinking too much alcohol, eating enough fruit and vegetables and not smoking can add up to 14 years to your life, a study says."

Tell us something we didn't know. Hopefully these extra 14 years are economically productive, not too much of a burden on the NHS and socially beneficial....