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Earth Day 2021: athletes and brands that are making a difference

Here's how members of the running community are working to fight the climate crisis

Photo by: Salomon

Thursday is Earth Day, an annual event with a focus on environmental protection. Every year, there are events held around the world to celebrate Earth Day and to highlight the many initiatives that are geared toward the climate crisis and the environment. Many runners and running brands are heavily invested in the fight against climate change, promoting sustainability through various nonprofits and projects. Here are four individuals and companies that you can support, not just on Earth Day, but throughout the rest of the year, too. 

The Kilian Jornet Foundation

Fans of the sport will know Spanish ultrarunning champion Kilian Jornet well, but they might not realize that he has his own foundation that is dedicated to climate action. The Kilian Jornet Foundation (KJF) works to protect the world’s mountains, which are near and dear to Jornet’s heart, because when he’s not running up a mountain, he’s probably climbing one. As temperatures rise globally, the snow, ice and glaciers found on the world’s mountains melt, leading to rising sea levels, which can cause even more problems, including increased rates of natural disasters, the destruction of unique ecosystems and more. 

“Mountains play a key role in our global system,” the KJF site reads. “Without them and their environment there would be no life, and that is why it is essential to conserve and manage them sustainably.” The KJF is linked to other nonprofits that focus on mountains, nature and sustainability, and the site also lists how individuals around the world can play a role in protecting the environment. To learn more about the KJF and its various causes, plus to donate to the organization, click here.

RELATED: Kilian Jornet creates pledge to promote Sustainable Development Goals

Protect Our Winters 

Protect Our Winters (POW) isn’t a running-specific nonprofit, but it does have the support of multiple runners and several running brands. As the organization’s name suggests, its goal is to save winter, which is becoming shorter and shorter around the world as global temperatures continue to rise. POW uses its network of outdoor athletes to fight for change, with the ultimate goal of playing a part in achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2050. A number of runners are part of the POW team, including Rickey Gates, who is well known for having run every street in San Francisco. To learn more about POW, click here.

The North Face 

The North Face also supports POW, but the company has climate initiatives of its own. A big project from the brand is its Exploration Without Compromise lineup of products. Clothing and gear with the Exploration Without Compromise badge is made from at least 75 per cent recycled, regenerative or responsibly sourced renewable materials. The company calls this “sustainably-conscious gear,” and there are plans to add to this product line with “circular systems” of recyclable gear that The North Face will develop itself. These products will be “designed for circularity,” and the company says they will hit stores in 2022. For more on The North Face and its commitments to sustainability, click here.

RELATED: Track and field’s promise for a sustainable future

The Ultra-Trail World Tour

The Ultra-Trail World Tour (UTWT) is responsible for some of the world’s biggest and most famous ultramarathons, but it is also the parent organization of a new initiative called Trail with Purpose. This was introduced this year, and it’s a UTWT effort to promote the preservation of the environment and climate action. “Run and challenge yourself, yes, but don’t forget to commit to a sustainable future,” the UTWT site reads.

This initiative will be centred around three “forums” that will be held throughout 2021. These forums will feature climate experts who will speak to how race organizers and runners can “meet the challenges of tomorrow’s world” and play a role in the fight against climate change. The first forum will take place in May, and it will focus on business practices that are “compatible with the environment.” The next is in June, and it’s all about water management during running events. Finally, the third forum will be held in August, and it will look at how organizers can minimize the impact their events have on the environment. Click here to find out more about the Trail with Purpose initiative. 

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