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By Arwa Lodhi and Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Working out is beneficial for your body and spirit, but have you ever considered whether what you are wearing is beneficial to our planet? Fortunately there are several sustainable brands who took care in providing eco-friendly outfits for every activity from yoga to swimming.
Here, we’ve picked what we think is the best eco-friendly workout gear for a variety of sports.
Patagonia is, without a doubt, one of the most ethical clothing companies on the planet. Not only do they work with strict Fair Trade and Fair Employment principles, but they also use many recycled products to make their clothing.
Their fleece, such as in these hiking jackets, is made from post consumer recycled (PCR) plastic soda bottles. This system uses fewer resources, discards less and better protects people’s health.
English model, environmentalist, and ambassador for Sky Rainforest Rescue, Lily Cole teamed up with Veja to launch a limited-edition footwear collection. For this collection, Lily Cole designed a print inspired by fauna and flora she met during her Amazonian trip in 2012. A trip during which she realised how fragile the rainforest is and decided to get involved in the fight for its protection.
Veja’s sneakers soles are made out of wild rubber from the Amazon, the only place on earth where rubber trees grow in the wild. Cole expressed her unconditional support to Veja’s project: “I think it is a really important and inspiring initiative. Veja’s use of wild rubber offers an economic, market driven solution to discourage deforestation on the ground, and allows people all over the world to participate in the protection of the forest through their purchasing choices.”
A hike wouldn’t be complete without a place to put your water bottle, sunscreen, mobile phone (just in case!) and other stuff. Luckily, Paguro creates stylish, comfortable backpacks from recycled materials, including firehoses and inner tubes.
In 1993, Nike introduced a shoe recycling program, and since then, they have been aiming to reduce their carbon footprint further. As a result of this aim, the Nike Considered line was born–and the Pegasus, a greener version of an old design, was launched.
The new brand uses better cut components, and the upper is made of recycled materials. A bit greener than previous Nikes, but not quite on the level of New Balance or Puma–yet.
The use of recycled polyester, rice husk rubber and water based adhesives make these some of the most eco-friendly trainers around–but New Balance is also now experimenting with zero-waste production, cutting pieces for this shoe as closely as possible so as to reduce waste cuttings.
Running Pants: Patagonia
The company uses recycled polyester in many of its lines, including Capilene ® baselayers, shell jackets, board shorts, and fleece. They now recycle used soda bottles, unusable manufacturing waste, and worn out garments (including their own) into polyester fibres, to create pants like these.
Using recycled polyester lessens their dependence on petroleum as a raw material source, curbs discards and reduces toxic emissions from incinerators. Plus, the pants are fully breathable, supportive, and wick moisture away from skin.
When it’s a bit chilly out there, you may want to layer up! One of those layers could be an Under Armour Catalyst Hoody. This is an ultra-thin, sleek option with both sun and odour protection, and it’s all made from 100 percent recycled polyester.
You can’t even think about going for a run without a supportive bra, and this one by Livestrong is great–super strong with a sleek, no-chafe design, it’s also made from 88% recycled materials.
Prefer the freedom of shorts over longer, hotter pants? Shorts by Moving Comfort offer a lightweight, wicking brief liner, two internal pockets, and are made from DriLayer Eco Stretch fabric. They come in a variety of colourful fabrics, too!
The truth is, cycling is a male dominated sport. Google search ‘eco-friendly cycling gear’ and you’ll find that most sites are directed towards men. Fortunately, we’ve discovered Moving Comfort.
The brand makes everything you’d need for a good workout, from cycling shorts and tees to sports bras and yoga gear–all fit like a glove, and come in a range of super-stylish cuts and colours. But most importantly, Moving Comfort prides itself on using innovative eco friendly materials like coffee grounds turned into yarn and woven into S.Cafe ® fabric, which features moisture-wicking and odour-preventing properties.
Sun on the skin is a serious concern for many avid outdoor cyclists. To protect your face from the ageing and cancer-inducing rays of the sun, a cap is a must. Veleco makes a comfortable range aimed at cyclists, and uses only 100% organic cotton in constructing these.
Popular footwear brand, Puma, launched a line of Cradle to Cradle-certified apparel, shoes, and accessories a year ago–the first of its kind to bear the mark. The “InCycle” collection addressed both Puma’s environmental footprint as well as those of its customers, according to Franz Koch, the company’s CEO.
This was a smart move on a strategic marketing level which also benefitted the wellness of our planet: after Puma’s 2010 Environmental Profit and Loss Account linked 57% of its impact with the production of raw materials (leather, cotton, and rubber, included), the brand turned to “clever raw materials” such as biodegradable polymers, recycled polyester, and organic cotton.
Your pedalling power is diminished if your socks are bunching in your shoes or your feet feel hot and sweaty, so thank goodness for these Teko Socks! The brand sources their organic, chlorine-free tekoMERINO wool from environmentally friendly farms in Argentina, and blends this with ekoPOLY recycled polyester to create a seamless, naturally wicking product.
Did you know most yoga mats are made of very eco-harmful PVC? Not very Zen! 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.
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.
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.