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5 of the Most and Least Eco-Friendly Sports in Existence

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Summer has officially arrived Down Under, and that’s great news for families, communities, and all the equipment that’s going to get a real workout in the summer sun like our rooftop solar systems, and our sports gear we dig out to make use of during the holidays. It’s no revelation to say a rooftop solar system is eco-friendly when in operation. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said surrounding many of the sports we know and love.


Now, nobody wants to see a decrease in sport! But the reality is there are practices in certain sports that do need to become greener, just as there are many sports that are eco-friendly already, and others still which have already seen great strides in going greener take place in recent years. Raising awareness of what sports are already green, and which ones need to shift more towards it, is a key part of this process. So let’s now go through 5 of the most and least eco-friendly sports out there. 


A Qualification Before the Main Event


Before we officially kick off the list it’s necessary to acknowledge there are of course some caveats when it comes to measuring what sports are more eco-friendly versus less eco-friendly. For instance, while our first one, running, is super eco-friendly, if it occurs in a professional event at a stadium that is powered by fossil fuels, then obviously that’s far less green than someone taking a jog by themselves in a park. In turn, it’s true even if a sport is eco-friendly, sometimes the equipment used in it may not be made in a sustainable way.


For those keen on pursuing eco-friendly sports with sustainably-made goods, taking time to source out suppliers who affirm their goods are sustainably-produced could tick all the boxes here. But this said, there are a number of sports which in order to occur must use a lot of energy by default, and it’s thus these ones which are the focus here, and accordingly - in addition to the eco-friendly sports in the first half - serve to take up spots in the second half of this list.


The 5 Most Eco-Friendly Sports


  1. Running
  2. Cycling
  3. Outdoor swimming
  4. Surfing
  5. Football


The following are sports which you can easily do in a clean and green way:

1. Running


It may be little surprise this is the first out of the blocks on our eco-friendly sports list. Running is not only a fantastic way to help stay in good health, but it’s essentially the simplest sport to pursue. All that’s necessary is a suitable pair of shoes and a place to run!


2. Cycling


Similar to running, cycling is another sport where there is an effectively unlimited amount of space to do it in, and in turn relatively simple requirements in terms of equipment. What’s more, cycling can also be a terrific way to commute to work, allowing any cyclist to get in a workout and save on car or public transport costs while they do it. 


3. Outdoor Swimming


Alongside running and cycling, this is another outstanding sport that is very eco-friendly - at least when it’s done outdoors. All that’s required is a swimsuit and a towel, and it’s possible to get a great workout at the beach. While swimming in indoor settings can be less eco-friendly given the energy needed to light a building and maintain a pool’s temperature, it is necessary to note many swimming venues have taken solid steps in recent years to make their venues greener.


4. Surfing


For those who find their happiest pursuits in sport are not swimming in water but riding above it, there’s good news. Surfing can be a very eco-friendly sport. The same goes for related sports like boogie boarding and skimboarding.


5. Football


A ball, shoes, and a few friends are all that’s required to get a game of football going. This is the case whether it's Australian rules, rugby, or soccer. For those who don’t have a suitable set of goals nearby, it’s worth remembering that popping down a few jumpers can make a pair of makeshift goals!


The 5 Least Eco-Friendly Sports


  1. Golf
  2. Skydiving
  3. Auto racing
  4. Motorcycle racing
  5. Water skiing


These sports may be a ton of fun, but unfortunately, there are aspects about them that mean right now they’re often not eco-friendly to do:


1. Golf


Golf courses are huge and take a whole ton of resources to keep their turf looking pristine. It’s true a similar argument can be made for other games that rely on a large playing surface to play, such as football. But football fields are smaller than a typical golf course, and hence it’s not a like-for-like comparison between these two playing fields and their maintenance needs.


2. Skydiving


Skydiving takes nerves of steel. As a result, it’s no revelation to say it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Nonetheless, it is a sport that many enjoy participating in. Although the act of skydiving itself is eco-friendly, the use of a plane - and its fossil fuels - to get up into the air is the issue and makes this pursuit less eco-friendly than many other sports. 


3. Auto Racing


No small number of people have the need for speed but unfortunately, when it comes to using fossil fuels to power cars it’s far from ideal. 


4. Motorcycle Racing


Like car racing, the use of fossil fuels is a big problem when it comes to motorcycles.


5. Water Skiing


There is a common factor found in water skiing that is also applicable to skydiving, car racing and motorcycle racing: the use of fossil fuels to power the boat’s engine. 


The Expectation Surrounding Eco-Friendly Innovations


While the 5 sports immediately above are not very eco-friendly it’s worth noting - in addition to improvements such as utilising fossil fuels that are more efficient (so even if they’re not totally clean, they are still ultimately an improvement on previous fuel types) - there is, of course, the expectation the future will see great advances in a number of areas which will enable positive change. For example, there already exists an auto racing Formula E category that sees cars run exclusively on electric power, and in future, we can expect to see this energy source become far more common across a range of racing championships, be it car, motorcycle, or another type of vehicle. 


A Sporting Idea


Sports are a big part of Australia’s national identity. This is also the case with many other nations around the world - and we certainly value the readers of our articles in Australia and overseas! As a result of this, odds are good anyone who is reading this may enjoy doing sports that are on the eco-friendly list here, while also doing some (or supporting some as a spectator) which are not so eco-friendly. Once more, it’s important to underscore that nobody wants to see people give up sports, which brings a number of benefits in terms of health, happiness, and more. It’s just also important that we recognise the quest to make our communities and wider world clean and green doesn’t just depend on moves we make in our homes and workplaces. 


Just as it’s great to do eco-friendly sports for many reasons - for instance, the fact all eco-friendly sports on this list here can take place outdoors means they’re a great way to get out in nature - it’s also important to recognise the progress that can be made in years ahead around less eco-friendly sports, for example by seeing racing vehicles powered by renewables instead of fossil fuel sources. So for anyone currently doing a sport that isn’t very eco-friendly, there’s no reason to despair! Instead, it’s worthwhile to look into what options exist so that it could be possible to do the sport in a way that is still fun going forward, while also being cleaner and greener.

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