In the bustling world of retail, run specialty stores hold a unique position. Beyond being mere purveyors of shoes and gear, they’re hubs of community, knowledge and passion for the sport. That means that as the call for sustainability grows louder with each generation, running stores have an exclusive opportunity to lead the charge towards sustainability within their communities. 

By embracing eco-friendly practices, hosting green events and advocating for environmental awareness, these stores can become beacons of sustainability in the running world.

So here are 10 ways that run specialty retailers can support the effort. Time to get going!

1. Rock the Reusables

Say goodbye to boring plastic bags and hello to reusable totes. Ditch the single-use plastics and encourage your customers to strut their stuff with eco-friendly, branded shopping bags. Bonus points for bags made from recycled materials or quirky designs that scream “I’m saving the planet, one run at a time!”

2. Trash Talkin’ Group Runs

Turn your regular group runs into eco-friendly adventures. Host a monthly or quarterly run, then equip your crew with gloves and trash bags. Challenge them to a trash pick-up competition along the route. Who knew saving the planet could be so satisfyingly sweaty?

3. Green Gear Galore

Show off your eco-chic side by stocking up on sustainable gear options. From shoes made with recycled materials to apparel from brands committed to ethical manufacturing, your store will be the go-to spot for runners who want to look good and feel good about their purchases.

4. Recycling Rodeos

Get creative and host a recycling event or drop-off where runners can drop off old shoes, clothing and accessories for reuse or recycling. Plus, offer incentives for those who participate — trade in and trade up! Be the “Certified Sustainable Store” in your community. 

5. Eco-Tech Tidbits

Keep your customers in the loop with the latest eco-friendly tech trends. From GPS watches with solar charging capabilities to biodegradable phone armbands, help runners stay connected without harming the planet. Because saving the world shouldn’t mean sacrificing style or functionality.

6. Compost Craze

Turn your store’s waste into gold with a composting program. I know my local running store is right next to a smoothie shop and also offers free coffee sometimes at packet pick-up. From coffee grounds to banana peels (fuel for those long runs, right?), show Mother Nature some love by reducing your store’s landfill footprint one compost heap at a time.

7. Trail Blazers

Lead the charge in trail conservation efforts. Organize trail clean-up days where runners can give back to the great outdoors by picking up litter and maintaining local trails. Don’t forget to treat your trail blazers to coffee or a snack. I know I definitely appreciated the breakfast tacos after the Austin Marathon Shake Out Run. 

8.Sustainable Swag

Elevate your race swag game with eco-friendly goodies. Swap out the usual plastic water bottles and cheap trinkets for reusable water bottles, bamboo sunglasses and organic cotton T-shirts. Your runners will thank you — and so will the planet.

9. Pedal Power

Encourage eco-friendly transportation options by offering bike racks and incentives for cyclists. Whether it’s a discount on gear or freebies for those who bike to the store, show your support for pedal power and reduce carbon emissions one bike ride at a time.

10. Lead by Example

Be the change you want to see in the running world. From implementing energy-efficient lighting or recycling programs in your store to advocating for sustainability initiatives in your community, lead by example and inspire others to follow suit. After all, saving the planet is a team sport. 

One store leading the way is Colorado Running Company, which has kept thousands of sneakers out of landfills with their sneaker reuse and recycling program and is using the funds from it to give back to Achilles International, an organization dedicated to empowering people with disabilities to participate in mainstream running events. 

So there you have it, running fam — 10 epic ways your run specialty store can champion sustainability and make the world a better place, one run at a time. So lace up those eco-friendly kicks and get ready to save the planet in style, because when it comes to sustainability, every step counts!