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Running Brands with Environmental Programs You Didn't Know About

A woman running by herself on a trail through a meadow

Make purchases you feel good about

When it comes to protecting the environment, our purchases—what and from whom—matter. Thankfully, the brands we love are always working hard to up their game when it comes to sustainability. This is a short list of just a few brands making strides and setting examples for the entire industry:


GU

GU Energy believes that if they are promoting access to sport and activity, it’s their responsibility then, to help protect the environment in which they encourage the world to play. So, it makes sense that part of the energy company’s brand-wide mission is to give back to the community and lend a hand to environmental sustainability. To do this, GU supports around 100 grassroots organizations, including the Conservation Alliance.

That's not all. In addition to their give-back program, GU encourages consumers to recycle with Terracycle, a unique recycling program for hard-to-recycle items (like, yes, you guessed it: a GU packet!) While it’s not as easy as dropping empty packets into a recycling bin (you do have to ship them), the GU and Terracycle partnership makes it as easy as possible. Simply accumulate acceptable items till you have at least two pounds of recyclables and then print a free label on their site. For more details, click here and, as GU says, “join the brigade.”

Patagonia

If you know anything about Patagonia—besides packable puffy coats—you know about the company’s longstanding environmental programs. In fact, Patagonia is a brand built with environmental stewardship at the top of mind. Their impact on worldwide environmental programs is far-reaching. They take a concerted effort to leave minimal impact through sustainably-sourced materials and ethical product construction. They offer tips for maintaining gear for long periods of time and then provide a recycling program for when they finally wear out. More than their ethical products, though, Patagonia is perhaps best known for their grant programs and activism. Learn more about all the programs they offer here.

Brooks

To say that Brooks is dedicated to sustainability is an understatement. From the LEED Platinum Certified design of the corporate headquarters in Seattle, WA, to their manufacturing footprint that makes all Brooks running shoes, to their strategic industry partners. Brooks' website goes as far as to say that they expect their employees to display environmental stewardship. Check out their extensive programs here.

Nike

In a 2016 interview posted on Nike News with Hannah Jones, Nike’s “Chief Sustainability Officer, she said the company aims to increase its sustainability through innovation.

“Our ultimate sustainability vision at Nike, which is locked into our growth as a company, is to fundamentally decouple our growth from scarce resources. And design is our greatest weapon — it is one of our greatest levers of change. That’s why we’ve made the sustainability team part of our advanced innovation department. This ensures sustainability is utterly woven into our DNA and innovation pipeline. In fact, it’s often driving innovation.”

Plus, they also have one heck of a shoe recycling program. Take up to 10 pairs of worn out kicks into any Nike store (you can also mail them, but Nike won’t cover those shipping costs). Nike then takes those shoes and creates a proprietary track and athletic court material called “Nike Grind.” They even use the stuff to make playgrounds!

Balega

This originally South African performance sock company makes socks in both South Africa and the US. In both places they pay close attention to ethical working conditions and material sourcing. Socks produced in the US cut down on the carbon emissions associated with transportation. What’s more, Balega works work hard to raise money for local charities across the country—environmentally-focused charities included.

Nathan

The company that makes top-notch hydration products for road and trail running also works to clean beaches around the country, too. (For example, this year they adopted a section of Bolsa Chica State Beach in Orange County, CA, and are working hard to keep it trash free). Plus, by simply using the reusable Nathan water bottles and handhelds they offer, you’re cutting down on the amount of plastic waste that gets tossed into the ocean every single day.

Icebreaker

Sustainability and strict environmental awareness are at the core of this apparel company’s mission. Since 2010, Icebreaker has released a “Transparency Report” which details their procedures for production, sourcing, shipping, and more. This kind of transparency holds Icebreaker to a strict design and production standard when it comes to environmental practices. As a consumer, you can always track the journey of your garment from the farm where the sheep were raised to the factory where it was constructed. How? Use the “Bahh Code” on the label.

How can you reduce your environmental impact through running? Check out our top tips here.