By Arwa Lodhi
This summer, someone proposed I join them in a hot yoga class. Given that it was 27 degrees outside, that seriously did not appeal. But now that the weather is cooling off fast, I’m changing my mind…
I am also looking for new yoga clothes for my regular class – it’s getting damn chilly in that studio, and my open backed yoga tee is simply not cosy enough. But during my search for yoga gear, I was shocked to see that so many brands that people laud (yes, Lulu Lemon and Sweaty Betty, I mean you!) are actually not only made with polluting polyester, but are very likely made in sweatshops. That’s not very ahimsa! (the yogic term for doing no harm, if you were wondering).
What’s more, many yoga mats are made from PVC – a highly toxic chemical. You actually breathe in the fumes from this when you’re down in poses like Child’s Pose. In fact, PVC, (polyvinyl chloride) can cause damage to the liver, reproductive system, central nervous system and respiratory system. The process of making PVC produces dioxins and PCBs, both serious carcinogens. PVC products also release off-gas volatile compounds and, when burned in a garbage incinerator, emit highly toxic smoke. But that’s not all – the chemicals added to mats to make them “sticky” are phthalates, and to make them durable, toxic metals. Both can leach out of the mat with use and into your skin. Both cause cancer.
So the next time you’re looking for new leggings or a fashionable yoga bra, consider one of the following sustainable clothing brands. Each of these companies are committed to sustainability, strong work ethics and use eco-friendly materials that are good for you, other people and the planet. Meditate on that!
Probably the most well-known eco-friendly yoga brand, Prana was founded on a belief in sustainability. They use environmentally friendly materials like hemp, cotton and recycled polyester, and all their packaging is recyclable, too. Only Fair Trade Certified factories produce Prana’s goods, and since their founding in 1992, Prana has been doing great things, like creating the Natural Power Initiative to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and encourage the development of renewable energy.
This family-owned business is all about comfort and connection to the earth. All of its clothing is manufactured in the US and made out of super soft eco-friendly materials that are designed by yogis for yogis. They use low impact dyes for their fabrics and choose coloring facilities that completely recycle their water. Their tags and packaging are fully recyclable, and the brand also gives away some of their profits to the Give Back Yoga Foundation, serve meals to the homeless, and teach donation-based yoga classes.
Want groovy yoga clothes to help you channel your inner hippy? Shining Shakti makes them! This is a brand for the eco minded woman who cares about her carbon footprint – Shining Shakti uses organic, eco-friendly materials that come from farms in the USA. In fact, their entire manufacturing processes take place in America, too. They dye all of their products by hand, too!
Fair traded soy, modal and cotton and recycled polyester are the materials this NYC-based brand uses for its dreamy yoga clothing line. They dreamed of a made-in-the-US-line of environmentally and socially responsible yoga clothing. They dreamed of creative designs that could be worn in and out of the yoga studio. Six years later, that dream became a reality. Anjali says they are constantly creating designs that aim to remind people of their inherent beauty and goodness.
5. Lily Lotus
Sustainability Score: 5/8
The Overview: Lily Lotus design a wide range of stylish clothing meant for the modern, active woman. Each item is designed to be comfortable and easy to wear, and features a comfortable fit and glamorous style. All of their clothing is manufactured in the USA from eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and bamboo, using only sustainable business practices.
6. Woron Store
You know when you’re in a headstand and your top flies up and you can’t really chill because you’re afraid your boobs are on display to all and sundry? Woron Store solves all your problems with their gorgeously stretchy, breathable body suits. Though not designated as a ‘yoga brand’, the Scandinavian based Woron Store also provides awesome tights and asymmetrical tees that are perfect for any yoga class.
This specialist brand creates tights from recycled plastic bottles, and even gave away some of their first creations for free, strongly believing that those who wore them would love them so much, they’d start a frenzy on social media – and they did! Girlfriend Collective’s designs are as perfect for yoga classes as they are for dancers. In fact, their clothing is so gorgeous and comfy, we’d wear this just going out for coffee!
8. Cozy Orange
Want chic urban style that’s still practical for yoga class? Look no further! Cozy Orange only uses environmentally friendly materials like recycled tactel, nylon and polyester to make its clothing, and holds its manufacturers in Cambodia to a high sustainability standard. They also donate a portion of their proceeds to World Vision International and Water.org.
Ok, it’s not clothing, but your yoga mat is super important to your practice! Did you know most yoga mats are made of very eco-harmful PVC? Not very Zen, and sure as heck not very nice to be breathing in their fumes in your child’s pose. So it’s eKO Lite mats to the rescue! They may be a bit more pricey than toxic mats, but they’re made from non-Amazon-harvested, natural tree rubber and will leave no footprint in landfills, or toxic fumes in your lungs as you ‘remember your breath’…
These stylish tops and pants by Laene allow for the free movements required by any yoga workout, and are constructed from the intelligent botanic fibreTencel, which is organically farmed from eucalyptus trees. Tencel’s heat controlling and moisture managing properties are better than any synthetic fibre on the market, creating a comfortable fit akin to a second skin. It is antibacterial, anti-odour, easy to wash and dries fast, so there is no need for tumble drying or dry-cleaning.
11. FROM Clothing
This new ethical fashion brand based in the UK is a demonstration of how an integrated socially responsible approach to business can work towards contributing to the well being of our planet. The outfits are designed and manufactured according to an eco friendly criteria for the active and yoga lifestyle, using beautiful fabrics which feel soft against the skin, are kind to our environment and sourced from sustainable resources – a minimum of 90% of the raw materials used are made from either ethically sourced, certified organic and/or sustainable sources.
12. OM Girl
Another great brand to enjoy your yoga sessions with is OM Girl Clothing.These clothes are made from the finest materials, soft and colourful, and are entirely custom-dyed. In line with the brand’s chosen name, green living is the philosophical and spiritual foundation to Om Girl: the ancient principle of Ahimsa, which translates roughly as “non-harming”, is translated in a cloth manufacturing process that is focused on minimising its impact on the environment.
In practice the label teams up with like-minded brands to offer organic and/or sustainable product options. Furthermore, Om girl offsets its entire carbon footprint through Carbonfund.org and hosts its web server in a green data centre, avoiding the use of paper, prevent the damage of trees.