In life, I try to make choices that are good for the environment: I buy fruit and veg without plastic wrappings, avoid single-use plastics wherever possible, recycle, that sort of thing.
It's not big, but it is something that I can do, and something that - if everybody did it - would make the world a better place.
But I am also a long distance runner. And on long runs, I eat gels. For the last two years, those gels came courtesy of Science in Sport. Those gels work for me, but it's also a regular single-use plastic that's non-recyclable.
I was sure I could do better.
Sustainable Gel: The Search
Being a smart cookie, I started my search by checking where the gels that would be handed out at the side of the course in my next race were from. It would be convenient, I reasoned, if I had trained with the gels they hand out on course.
And the Edinburgh Marathon is planning to hand out High 5 this year. And High 5 has a sustainability page. (Science in Sport does not.)
I learn that these gels come in packaging that I can ship back to be recycled. This is not the ideal solution - I'd prefer something with biodegradable packaging (or, at least, packaging that can be put in my curb-side recycling bin), but those options don't exist. Once upon a time, Lucozade was trying some sort of package made of seaweed, but in 2021 there's no sign of these anywhere.
So High 5 is top of the competition for sustainability. But will they do the job?
To find out I bought an array of different products to try out on runs:
First up was the gel taster pack. It came with eight gels, but only five flavours (is this why it's High 5?): Orange, Citrus, Banana, Berry, and Apple.
High 5: Toppy's Thoughts
- The gel packets open pretty easily - certainly they are better here than most of the other gel packs I've had to open
- The gels themselves are slightly overpacked, so the first one got a little messy. I think this could be a problem in a race as well. I would prefer if there was a little extra room in the pack to ensure they can be opened without making a mess
- These taste fantastic. These five gels are now the top five gels for flavour that I've had.
- They sat well in my stomach - no gastrointestinal issues
The caveat here is that while this was a long run (19 miles), there were no race pace sections, and there's always a chance a gel might disagree at a harder pace.
With a broken ankle, however, it will be a long time before I'm able to finish testing High 5 products.
For now, Toppy is happy to recommend High 5 gels for runners looking for a gel with recyclable packaging.
Disclosure: High 5 gels were bought by Toppy with his own money. Nobody is paying Toppy to write this. Toppy just thinks that sustainability is important and High 5 gels are tasty.