Compulsory race tees – time to get shirty?

One of the highlight of signing up to many races around the world is the free branded race t-shirt that you get as part of your entry. It’s a memory, something to be proud of, and really makes you feel like you’re getting the most out of your (often pretty expensive) race fee.

 

However, people are increasingly questioning the necessity of race tees at every single event. While for many it may be their first race, or a special occasion they want to remember, for so many others it is just another t-shirt that will never be worn, adding to the pile of other t-shirts from other races.

In terms of sustainability, having compulsory race tees is a big no-no. Often made from synthetic materials originating from non-renewable resources, each wash releases microfibres into our waterways, and the energy, manual labour and chemicals used to create each and every t-shirt contributes significantly to many of the challenges we face in reducing our environmental footprint. One polyester t-shirt emits 5.5kg carbon, and although cotton t-shirts are better in terms of emissions (2.1kg), they also require much more land and water, both precious commodities in the regions cotton is grown. If the fashion industry was a country, its emissions would rank almost as highly as the entirety of Europe – it is clear that we need to change the way in which we consume clothes.

So what can we do? Here are some options for what to do with when faced with an unwanted race t-shirt (or any other sports kit for that matter!).

Image above: some shocking statistics about our athleisure, taken from ReRun

 

Opt out of tshirts

Some races now have an option to opt out of t-shirts and other race peripherals. Think twice about whether you need another race t-shirt, or if a medal might be memory enough. Some people live for race tees, and if you know you’ll love and wear it, go for it! But if you don’t feel strongly about it either way, it might be best to opt out.

Trees not Tees

Some race entry forms do not allow you to sign up without choosing what sized t-shirt you want (whether you actually want it or not). Thankfully, a company called ‘Trees not Tees‘ works with race organisers to start providing the option “I don’t need another T-shirt – please plant a tree for me instead”.

Rather than the race spending money on a t-shirt that will never be used, the money instead goes towards planting a tree on a patch of land in Scotland, contributing to rewilding the area with native vegetation. If your race entry didn’t allow you to opt out of t-shirts, why not email hello@treesnottees.com to let them know. If you have an email contact for the race you’re signing up to, send that over too – the following year you could have contributed to the planting of thousands of trees!

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Trees not Tees are doing amazing things in the name of sustainability

ReRun

ReRun is a Community Interest Company dedicated to up-cycling and rebranding old (or even new) sportswear, selling them for a fraction of their original cost. Their goal is to raise awareness of the waste generated by buying new clothes, and to extend the life of all the clothes we have. Even just a few months of extra wear can reduce the waste footprint of each item. Clothes can be taken to specific drop-off locations around the UK before being sent where they are needed.

Even the most worn-out clothes are put to good use – un-sellable clothes are donated to refugee/homeless projects and the profits from all sales go back into the running community.

Too Many T-shirts 

If you would like to keep all your t-shirts (‘for the memz’), but know that you’re unlikely to wear them all, ingenious company ‘Too Many T-shirts‘ offers a service that sews them into a throw/blanket/duvet for you. This way, you have a functioning addition to your home (perfect for wrapping up in after a long run) and are able utilise and enjoy up to 40 t-shirts at once.

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Image courtesy of Too Many T-shirts

Wear before you race

In colder races, it is commonplace to wear and then discard items of clothing at the start line. This saves carrying around extra weight you don’t want, or arriving at the start line completely freezing (this brings back memories of Tokyo marathon, and it’s no fun). Thankfully, many races are now collecting discarded items and donating them to charities. If you like to do this, why not wear an unwanted race t-shirt to the start line before donating it – just double check they are donated rather than discarded at your particular race!

The Swap Box

This community project based in Cornwall aims to extend the life of pre-loved (or even unused) sportswear, allowing runners to donate their own clothes, and/or swap items with other local runners. Sadly this is only available in Cornwall (currently) – the shop pops up Penrose Parkrun every 3 Saturdays, and can be found at numerous other local events.

Runners Renew Programme

This isn’t strictly for t-shirts, but I thought I’d add it here as I get asked a lot what to do with old trainers. The Runner’s Renew Programme collects secondhand trainers (and other bits of kit) and donates them to women. This initiative also breaks down barriers for many women looking to get into running. Shoes and other sportswear can be expensive, so donations such as these can be invaluable to those in need. DM them on Instagram to get involved!

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Runner’s Renew providing some much needed trainers!

Freecycle/local charity shops

You’ve received your race tee and race pack at home, and want to ensure it doesn’t end up in your drawers, unused, but many people struggle to find the time to send off to the above initiatives. As a last option (and one that is significantly better than chucking your clothes, or having them sit unused), try putting up clean t-shirts on freecycle, a website that offers free items to anyone who is willing to collect them. This means that someone who is in need of a sports t-shirt can come and relieve you of your burden, and you are doing good in the process. An alternative to this is donating to your local charity shop.

 

I would love to know whether you opt in or out of race tees, and what you do with all the ones you have been given! I’m sure there are loads of other great initiatives out there, and if we all called for more responsibility from race organisers, the difference we could make to the sustainability of our sport would be immense.

 

Looking for more information on sustainability in the running community

Exhausted – The effect of air pollution on running

What is green energy and can it save the planet?

8 environmental influencers you should follow

 

Come and find me on Instagram for more

Conscious brands – my favourites

Ethical fashion is tough to get your head around – faced with conflicting information and often unachievable price points, it’s a little bit of a minefield. However with the right attitude (i.e. smaller, longer lasting wardrobes filled with classic items), and a little pointing in the right direction (this post), it’s possible to start making a difference with your purchases right away.

People Tree – High neck jumper

£199 £92

People Tree has long been one of the better known faces of sustainable fashion. It’s one of the first that I knew of and argues against fast fashion as a concept. It is both ethical and sustainable, so really ticks all the boxes if you’re looking to shop more consciously. It’s not cheap, but if you’re buying one well made jumper instead of 4, the cost per wear (and durability) is significantly better!

People Tree is recognised by customers and the fashion industry as a pioneer in ethical and environmentally sustainable fashion. For over 27 years, People Tree has partnered with Fair Trade producers, garment workers, artisans and farmers in the developing world to produce ethical and eco fashion collections. Fair Trade is about creating a new way of doing business; creating access to markets and opportunities for people who live in the developing world.

Shop now.

 

Girlfriend – Indigo high-rise set

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This set is TO DIE FOR. Shop the leggings and top now.

Leggings ($68)

Top ($38)

The Girlfriend Collective has to be my favourite sustainable activewear shop. The leggings are to die for, made from ridiculously soft materials, in beautiful colours. The models are of a range of sizes and shapes, and the brand prioritises ethical and sustainable production. These are the PERFECT WORKOUT CLOTHES. Full stop. The leggings are made from 25 recycled bottles – read more about their sustainability work here.

 

Girlfriend – bodysuit

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This bodysuit comes in a range of colours. Shop now.

$58

 

H&M – hooded jumper 

HM jumper

Quite obsessed with how warm and cosy this looks. Buy now. 

£19.99

I’m not entirely sure how sustainable this could be, but H&M has recently launched their ‘Conscious’ range. However, I do always think supporting any effort at being more conscious is a good thing! Here’s what they say about the range:

The collection comprises of high-end environmentally friendly pieces, aiming to move H&M’s fashion and sustainability development towards a more sustainable fashion future. We are committed to showing that sustainable fashion has a place on the red carpet as well as making it part of our daily offer in our stores. One of our goals is for all cotton in our range to come from sustainable sources by 2020.

Shop the jumper.

 

ASOS X Made in Kenya

£32 £9.50

I’m always sceptical of big fashion labels/corporations jumping on the sustainability bandwagon, but this collection is so beautiful it had to make it in. Here’s what Asos says:

The ASOS Made in Kenya line (originally named ASOS Africa) was borne in 2009 in partnership with SOKO, a clothing manufacturing unit founded by Joanna Maiden. Since its inception, a commitment to ethical production, sustainability, and community empowerment have been crucial parts of the brand’s ethos.

We’re continuing to work closely with SOKO Kenya in Rukinga, Kenya, who not only make our collection but also run a stitching academy to upskill people, as well as provide training and access to healthcare for the local community. As they grow, more jobs and training opportunities are created in this remote area – and SOKO Kenya has grown from four to over 50 employees in the last eight years.

Shop now.

 

Veja – V-10 trainer

£122

I have discovered Veja relatively recently thanks to a recommendation from a friend when I asked about vegan trainers. This French company has made a pledge to create the most sustainable trainers in the world, which I love! Some of their trainers are vegan, but others are made from even more sustainable (but arguably less ethical) materials:

But make no mistake about it; every component of Veja footwear has a story. The cotton comes from an organic farm in Brazil, where workers don’t have to worry about harmful pesticides poisoning their villages. The rubber is tapped by people in the Amazon using traditional techniques. The brand tries to use the most sustainable uppers possible, including the skin of the tilapia fish and a leather-like material made from curdled milk. Even the way the shoes are boxed, warehoused, and shipped is unconventional: Veja partners with Atelier Sans Frontières, an organization that helps people who have been incarcerated or are otherwise struggling to find work, to employ workers to prepare orders.

 

Nobody’s Child – jumper dress

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Perfect for winter/sprint cold! Shop now

£30 £9

Nobody’s Child is one of my favourite ethical ‘fast fashion’ chains. As stated on Amplify:

New company Nobody’s Child are tackling a difficult task: fast-fashion that isn’t unsustainable or unethical. Their quick turnaround when it comes to trends means that their Latest In and Sale sections move fast.

The prices are low and they pride themselves in creating Great looking, great quality clothing, which is fast, but not throwaway.

Although they may seem like a relatively new company, it’s taken 10 years for them to build their own supply chains and production sources. They weave and dye their own fabrics, design prints and make the clothes in their own factories. In owning the entire production process, not only can they make claims on sustainability but also be held to account. Their knitting plant, dye house, print facility and distribution centre are all based in the UK and they own factories in the UK, Europe and Asia.

Shop Nobody’s Child.

 

Nobody’s Child – leopard print bodysuit

£16 £9.60

 

Palladium X Christopher Raeburn – Neoprene black boots

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I want every item in this collection.

£219  £157

I am totally obsessed with this collaboration and LOVE that all the pieces are unisex and made from recycled rubber. I have 3 pairs and I am not ashamed because I wear them all the time.

Shop the boots.

 

 

This (Bristol) Girl Can

This is an article I wrote for our student newspaper here in Bristol, about the national ‘This Girl Can’ campaign and our very own week of activities at Bristol uni. I’m always looking to inspire people to exercise in whatever form suits them best – I know not everyone enjoys the gym or pounding the pavement like I do, but I think it’s impossible NOT to enjoy exercise once you find the right one. The benefits for your mind and body far outweigh any initial qualms you might have.

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Amalia and I repping Playerlayer (playerlayer.com) outside zumba (check out those personalised leggings!).

 

“Two weeks ago, Bristol University saw the return of the national campaign ‘This Girl Can’ to its campus and Flora Beverley reviewed a very successful week.

‘This Girl Can’, developed by Sport England, is an organisation that provides funding to help people across the country take part in sports at all levels. The ‘This Girl Can’ campaign was born to encourage women of all ages, sizes and backgrounds to get involved in a sport. The initiative also highlights the reality of sport; people sweat, jiggle and may not look their best whilst they exercise, but the message is that this doesn’t matter. 75% of women say that they would like to be more active, yet only 31.7% of women exercise at least once a week.

‘This Bristol Girl Can’ week is aimed to encourage those at the university who might not normally take part in a sport to have a go. This year, a whole week of free activities took place, mainly in the Students’ Union. 15 activities were on offer during the week, including kickboxing, swimming, zumba and self-defence classes, which meant there was something for everyone.

There were two main events: the Maroon Wednesday up at Coombe Dingle and a mass participation Zumba class on Thursday evening. Maroon Wednesday consisted of seven hours of games at Coombe Dingle, showcasing both the men’s and women’s sports teams (including hockey, lacrosse, football and rugby).

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Zumba attracted over 200 students and staff, and wasn’t as horrific as I was expecting (some might even say I had some fun!)

The headliner was, of course, our amazing Women’s Rugby team versus Cardiff Met at 7:15pm. Despite a loss, the girls played extremely well, encouraged by vocal support from teammates, friends and other students on the sidelines. PlayerLayer playmakers were also at the event, handing out personalised leggings to the man of the match and lucky spectators.

The Zumba on Thursday started with a huge queue outside the Anson Rooms in the Students’ Union with lots of students, looking both excited and apprehensive. Over 200 spaces were booked, filling out the Anson Rooms by 6pm. The class was led by two dancers, encouraging everyone to take part in a manageable dance routine, which changed for every song.

For a non-dancer like me, it was hilarious, and I shook my hips and waved my hands around, somehow looking like I was drowning rather than dancing, but the event was the most fun I’d had that week!

Lisa Daley, the official organiser of the week, commented: ‘“This Bristol Girl Can Week” was our celebration of all women participating in Bristol University sport, from complete beginners to elite performers. The whole week was a great success with masses of interest and participation, all tying into the main “This Girl Can” national campaign which aims to promote females to take part, with no worry of how well they do it or how they look doing it.’ The Students’ Union and the department of Sport, Exercise & Health put together a much bigger programme compared to last year. The aim was to offer a wider range of activities that catered for all, helping to reach out to more students than ever before. It was fantastic to see the BUCS Women’s Rugby 1st team in action on Wednesday evening, putting in a strong, passionate and determined performance, proving themselves brilliant role models for ‘This Bristol Girl Can’, alongside our other incredible female BUCS athletes competing in sports from Lacrosse to Volleyball. The active and fun atmosphere was contagious; a true reflection of the whole incredible week of #ThisBristolGirlCan. For anyone interested in getting involved, the fun does not stop with this week. There is still a full range of classes which run every single week, which any student can attend. Find them by following this link: http://www.bristolsu.org.uk/societies-sport/get-active.

So for those of you who enjoyed the week, and for anyone who didn’t get a chance to take part in the events, it is possible to book even more classes to change the statistic that only 31.7% of women workout at least once a week. The benefits of exercise are huge, and it doesn’t mean slogging away in the gym everyday, as the ‘This Bristol Girl Can’ week showed in abundance.”

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