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Triathlon is a sport of things. Even the most modest multisporter still needs at least goggles, a bike, a helmet, shoes, and a suit of some type—and each of those things often need other things just to keep them working. It goes without saying that we need a lot of new stuff to swim, bike, and run, and as such we generate a lot of old stuff. If only there was some type of big brother/big sister type program where we pass along our hand-me-downs to the next generation of equally sized-and-shaped triathletes. But alas, it’s not that simple.
The good news is that both independent companies and brands themselves are making it their business to help us either recycle or—better yet—upcycle our mountains of multisport stuff. Sure, it takes a little legwork, but you’ll feel good knowing that you’re not creating a landfill worth of tri gear, but rather passing along a legacy of tri to some lucky newbie. Read on for our guide.
Get Some Cash For Your Old Stuff
Obviously this is the most fun way to recycle your old gear because you can use the money toward another purchase (or, I guess you could donate the money too…). Note that most of these programs require the gear to be in very, very good condition, as the company is obviously hoping to sell it to someone else. So set aside your stuff before it becomes completely worn thin.
While Patagonia only makes a few running items, it’s no secret that triathletes probably don’t end their sporting pursuits with swim, bike, and run. Since 2013, Patagonia has operated its “Worn Wear” program, and it’s been one of the longest-lasting upcycle deals in the outdoor industry.
Expect to get between $10-100 in credit to Patagonia or its Worn Wear purchase program for Patagonia items ranging from sportswear to shells and parkas. They won’t, however, take wetsuits, t-shirts, accessories, shoes, sleeping bags, or undergarments. Patagonia also won’t return anything back to you that they don’t accept.
Lululemon is another not-tri-specific brand, but they do make plenty of quality running, yoga, and activewear clothing (you know you have some, don’t lie). Announced just today, Lululemon is now accepting used Lulu gear for trade-in at their brick-and-mortar stores. Their credits are small—$5 for shirts and shorts up to $25 for outerwear—and you must go into the shop (risking, of course, multiple impulse buys once you’re inside), but it’s a step in the right direction that hopefully other similar brands will follow.
Bonus eco-move: Lululemon is reinvesting 100% of their prgoram’s profits into sustainability initiatives like “circular product design, renew and recycle programs, and store environmental programs,” according to their website.
Though this isn’t exactly the place to sell your Cervelo P5x, Play It Again Sports has locations all over North America, and will save you the trouble of holding a garage sale for your lower-end, used bikes. And, you can be rest assured that your old bike will get into the hands of someone who will use it. Case in point: Earlier this year, we set up a total newbie with $600 in gear to do his first triathlon, and, you guessed it, he found a new used bike from Play It Again sports for $180.
If you are looking to sell your Cervelo P5x (and don’t want to get into a…situation…on Craigslist), then you should probably start at Pro’s Closet. Not only does Pro’s Closet buy used bikes (in good condition), but they also buy frames and wheels. Sure, there’s a markup that’ll make it less profitable than a direct sale like Craigslist, eBay, or OfferUp, but you don’t have to worry about sketchy transactions, and the process is pretty simple. It also goes without saying that they sell used cycling gear, so you can make your next purchase “not new” and help on the downstream as well.
RELATED: Reviewed: The Pro’s Closet
Donate Your Used Stuff
Donating your old gear is still a fantastic option, no matter what condition it’s in. In that same vein, buying used gear from one of the places listed below is also substantially better for the environment than buying brand new. And entirely selfishly, stories about finding $400 cycling kits at Goodwill do abound.
Local Donation Center
Start here if you’re looking to donate old and used gear because the less distance your gear has to travel and the fewer hands it has to touch, the more direct your impact. Most cities have their own local donation programs, so a quick Google search may result in a very unsexy-looking website with a phone number (yes, a phone number!) to call for more info. A good rule of thumb: If the place you’re donating to has a rough-looking website, there’s a good chance that more of their money goes directly to helping people rather than marketing.
Look for a place where the proceeds from sales not only go to the needy, but also programs that directly employ the people who need it most. The Salvation Army and Goodwill are oldies and goodies, but as national organizations, they might have more overhead than say a local halfway house with a thrift store. But yeah, it might take a little research.
This is a great choice if you’ve got more technical gear (cycling stuff included) and you’re hoping to maximize the return on your donation. Outside Shop has partnered with a local used gear retailer in Oregon, Gear Fix, to receive outdoor gear, repair it, sell it, and donate the proceeds (less shipping and handling) to The Outdoorist Oath—a program designed to help get more people outdoors.
Gear Up, Give Back is focused mostly on gear that would be too “specialty” to be sold at a consignment shop at the right price, so think brands like Camelbak, Marmot, Pearl Izumi, Salomon, and more. Much like the Patagonia Worn Wear program, they won’t send back unacceptable items, but they do have local partners to channel unneeded gear to.