Ethical and sustainable fashion should be high on your agenda by now (according to research, 10,000 items of clothing get sent to landfill every five minutes), so there’s no excuse not to add some sustainable sports brands to your wardrobe.
Whilst it can be hard and costly to completely overhaul your wardrobe, there are small steps that can be done, such as investing in brands that are making a positive impact, from which materials they use to produce their clothes, to their carbon footprint.
What is sustainable activewear?
According to Emma Foster-Geering, Vivo Barefoot’s director of sustainability, being an eco-brand means setting goals to restore and regenerate human health and our natural world. “There is simply no other alternative in a present where us and our ecosystems are so sick,” she explains.
Historically, activewear hasn’t been particularly environmentally friendly, in no small parts due to the fabric used: often synthetic, non-recycled and non-biodegradable, which required a lot of water and energy to produce.
Luckily, times have changed. Independent brands are carving a niche into the market by focusing on ethical practices such as a short supply chain and ethical labour, and innovating with natural fabrics such as vegan leather made from plants or natural rubber.
Bigger brands are following suit, with labels such as adidas developing new fabrics from ocean waste (it has teamed up with Parley on a collection using upcycled marine plastic waste intercepted from remote islands, beaches and coastal communities) and investing in better cotton.
Why is shopping sustainably important?
Because, in short, the organisations and regulations that govern them are driven by consumer opinion, according to Foster-Geering.
“By shopping ‘sustainable’, we send a collective message to both that products which solve important environmental and ethical problems are what we want. We know sustainability is important, but what we need next is a lot more scientific rigour and transparency around what that really means,” she goes on.
What brands are sustainable?
There are so many sustainable sports brands offering such a great range of leggings, tops and trainers that won’t just enhance and support your workout, but will have less of an impact on the planet. No matter your budget, or your workout of choice, there are load of online brands (seeing as shops aren’t open yet) that offer everything from luxe Tencel yoga bodysuits to vegan leather trainers.
“More and more companies than ever are marketing their products as ‘sustainable’, but arguably the production of items that have been made transparently in environmental and ethically positive supply chains with strong circular solutions remains extremely low. The shift to ‘eco’ thinking has been overwhelming and hopefully the practical application of this in the industry will follow.”
She reckons that the following five things are what you need to be looking out for:
- Company: Make sure the company who makes the kit has credentials, aka are they B Corp certified? Do they publish a sustainability report? Do they use catch phrases like ‘sustainable’ ‘vegan’ ‘ethical’ ‘responsibly sourced’ without backing up how in readily available policies?
- Product materials: Are the product materials from renewable, natural sources or biosynthetic feedstocks?
- Product design: Does the world really need this new product to exist? Or it is just something trendy they sell to make money?
- Chemicals: Does the product contain any hazardous chemicals listed on the EU REACH or ZDHC MRSL lists?
- Value chain: Can you see what farms and factories made these products and do they provide end-of-life solutions for product repair and return?What is the Brand strategy on sustainability? Is it integrated with their business goals? Are employees incentives to achieve sustainability goals?
Keep scrolling to shop MC’s edit of the best sustainable exercise clothes for a more conscious workout.