Sunday, 30 December 2018

JAMIE LEE JENKINS ASKS: IS THE FITNESS INDUSTRY ECO-CONSCIOUS ENOUGH?


I’ll admit it, until relatively recently, how environmentally friendly my lifestyle was never really crossed my mind. I went through a stage when I was about eleven where I stuck sticky notes on all of the lights reminding my family to turn them off and a cute little rhyme to the toilet seat reading ‘If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down’. However, these were soon removed by my Mum and my brief dabble in being more environmentally conscious was over. As children do, I found a new project to focus my attention on, and that was the last my family ever saw of my brief ‘eco-phase’.


Recently, however, I had become a lot more aware of the impact my actions are having on the environment. The mentality I had carried with me for most of my life, ‘what difference can one person make?’, just wasn’t quite cutting it anymore. I began to do more and more research and feel down an eco-friendly rabbit hole. The more I have made changes in my day-to-day life, from the food I eat to the clothes I buy, the more I have started to think about our culture as a whole and how the internalised attitudes a lot of us hold are impacting the world around us. 

My current job, in the fitness industry, relies heavily on social media marketing. I got to thinking about how the fitness industry and social media as a whole is impacting the ways in which we care for our planet, and the truth is, there seems to be a level of hypocrisy.


While it is social media influencers that encouraged my moves towards living a more sustainable and ethical lifestyle, it is also the same platforms that have exacerbated certain industries that do have a negative impact on the environment, for example, animal testing and fast fashion – the latter being a topic I shared my thoughts on in my most recent blog post and something that is beginning to impact the fitness industry more and more.  

The points I am about to address are probably nothing you have not heard before – they certainly came as no surprise to me while I was doing my research for this post. However, I had never related the impact of it on the environment.

Social media presents to us a highlight reel of people’s lives – everything from the outfits they wear to the people they associate themselves with, especially when it comes down to influencer marketing.  Creating an ideal version of you to show off to the world requires a lot of upkeep. You cannot wear the same outfit twice, certain makeup brands are a must have (despite not following the most ethical practices) and, relating this directly to my industry, in order to see success on your fitness journey you must have the latest of everything.

Of course, none of these things are true, but I know myself that I have purchased clothes I did not need just because I could not put the same outfit on my Instagram feed. I have even gone as far as to buy things that, to be totally honest, I’m not sure I even like, just because it was ‘trending’ at that given moment. This mentality leads to, not only an unhealthy but also an unsustainable lifestyle. Not only does my bank account squeal in horror every time I make another unnecessary purchase, so does the environment. Our own internalised desire to ‘keep up’ could be doing more harm than we first thought.

However, it is not all doom and gloom and I really do believe that we have an opportunity to use social platforms in more positive ways. Social media might feed into unhealthy, unsustainable habits, but it is also full of activists and companies helping to promote sustainable industries. Certainly, in recent years it has become ‘cool’ to go-green and social media platforms have definitely helped to spread that message.

 Looking once again to my own industry, we are seeing a rise in what I shall call ‘eco-fitness’. You can now get your hands on everything from vegan yoga mats to sustainable active wear. There are also loads of tips available online to help make the industry an eco-friendlier one. Green fitness flooring made from recycled materials with extended life cycles, skylights replacing bulbs, even eco-friendly treadmills (the ECO-POWR treadmill uses 32% less energy than traditional motors) are all on the rise. With more and more fitness organizations going down these routes and shouting about it on social media platforms, the pressure really is on for more companies to follow suit.

The fitness industry and influencer marketing certainly have a long way to go, as do the majority of industries out there, before they can claim themselves eco-friendly. However, my job has taught me that as influencers, bloggers and YouTubers, we have incredible power, and with that comes an incredible opportunity to take chances. What I hope to have shown is that if we use social media to shout about different things, it has the chance to have a really positive impact on the environment.

Jamie x

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