donate buttonThis is Mike’s fifth entry in the series “Grist dared me to make a change.” Read the first, second, third, fourth, and sixth here. And support his dare with a gift to Grist!

Camelbak and running shoesEt tu, running gear?Mike SanClementsOn Saturday, we had plans to head up to the mountains and go for a long trail run. So I went to the closet and grabbed my Camelbak. Well, look at that — it’s a giant plastic bladder for water.  

I went back to the closet to get my running shoes and I started looking at all the stuff in there: skis, tents, jackets, bike helmets, ski helmets, etc.  A lot of that stuff is plastic or has plastic pieces. I wondered whether nylon is a type of plastic. Googled it. It is.

So all the gear that lets me do the hobbies I love contains plastic, right down to my running shoes. Well, I wasn’t gonna let that ruin my day, so off I went to the mountains.

First, a quick stop at the store to get some of the energy bars that we all use and are all packaged in … plastic. Damn it. Not the end of the world. I walked around the store looking at my options — fruit, bulk granola, bakery cookies, and bagels. All fine, but still a bit bulkier and heavier than a Clif Bar. I opted for two cookies and a bagel.

While I was running, I thought a lot about the alternatives for the use of plastic in outdoor sports. Maybe there aren’t that many. You can use aluminum bottles for water, but you wouldn’t want to go for a two-hour trail run carrying a backpack full of them.  Mountainsmith, a Colorado company, makes some of their backpacks from 100 percent recycled fabrics. I have one and it’s every bit as good as any other pack I’ve owned. So let’s hope for more of that in the future. 

12-pack of beerMore beer, no plastic. Awesome.Mike SanClementsAlso, plastic bags are essential on backpacking trips for both food and waste. We often try and reuse other bags when we’re camping, but I can’t really think of good alternatives to a plastic Ziploc. I would really love to hear other people’s tips and tricks on this one.

Boy, did I miss my energy bars. The cookies made me feel a little ill and the bagel was way too dry to eat in the middle of a long run.

In the end, it was still an awesome day and after a great day of exercise, who doesn’t want a cold beer?  I stopped at the store to get a six-pack of Dale’s Pale Ale. But because of the plastic loop I had to buy a 12-pack instead. Sometimes you get rewarded for avoiding plastics!

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