When we think of plastic, we tend to think of toys, gadgets, and disposable items like plastic utensils. You may not realize it, but your athleisure wardrobe is likely full of plastic, too.
Popular synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, rayon, and spandex all contain plastic. Most standard athletic clothing doesn’t come from plastic-free clothing brands. Some brands are starting to make “eco-friendly” workout clothes made out of recycled plastic, which is slightly better but still far from ideal.
The problem with this is that those plastics are making their way to the ocean. Every time you wash a synthetic fabric, it sheds hundreds or thousands of tiny plastic fibers. Those fibers travel through the water, squeaking through the filters that aren’t fine enough to catch them, and eventually polluting the ocean.
When you throw away or donate used fitness clothes, most of those items also end up in landfills or the ocean. The reality is, there’s no such thing as throwing something “away”.
Also, plastic production contributes heavily to greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.
If you want to do your part to keep the oceans and planet cleaner, the answer is simple: buy from plastic-free athletic clothing brands instead. The more you buy from sustainable designers, the more other brands will jump on board the plastic free train. Whether you’re into yoga, running, weight lifting or another form of exercise, there are plastic-free alternatives to all your fitness gear and clothing.
I’ve put together this list of my favorites.
Tentree is a brand fully dedicated to bettering the environment. To start, their clothing is made from natural materials like cotton, hemp, and a unique product called Tencel, a fiber made from wood pulp. If you still miss your polyester, Tentree also offers polyester clothing made from recycled plastic instead of new plastic, which cuts down on the pollution.
Tentree also used their clothing sales as a way to fund their other environmental mission: planting trees. The company’s name comes from its policy that for every purchase customers make, they plant ten new trees.
Arms of Andes
Arms of Andes is a match made in heaven for those who love the outdoors, in many senses. Arms of Andes makes all their clothing from alpaca wool. The natural fiber is sustainable and biodegradable, unlike plastic.
However, alpaca wool also happens to be a great fabric for outdoor adventurers. It’s lightweight yet it locks in heat well, all while retaining minimal water. The wool has the strength to stand up to your hikes, climbs, and other adventures that await you.
The planet has many wonderful fibers that work great in clothing. Sometimes, though, you want to give those fibers a little boost. That’s what Ably Apparel has done in its unique approach.
Ably’s founders invented a technology called Filium, which makes natural fibers odor-resistant, stain-resistant, and liquid-resistant. You get the best of both worlds: natural, sustainable materials with all the qualities you miss from artificial fabrics.
I love working out in the Daffodil TShirt from Ably since it doesn’t smell or get dirty, and it’s also great as an every day TShirt.
In the era of so many people working from home, athleisure wear has become our go-to workwear. Starseeds makes sure you can enjoy the comfort without putting a burden on the environment.
Starseeds uses a variety of natural materials for their clothing, including organic cotton, ramie, and bamboo, as well as recycled blended materials.
WE-AR’s name is a unique embodiment of their ultimate mission. While it’s a play on the word “wear,” WE-AR captures the idea that we are all part of the same community on our planet so we all have a responsibility to care for it.
As part of that mission, WE-AR uses exclusively organic, sustainable fabrics. This gives them the diversity to create beautiful clothing ranging from yoga wear to daily casuals.
Reprise Activewear is a brand that has taken an eco-conscious way of life and made it easier on all of us with their sustainable and lovable clothing.
The brand uses exclusively natural fibers, even avoiding recycled plastic materials to keep their footprint as small as possible. While Reprise is best-known for their leggings, they also produce cozy and sustainable t-shirts and other types of activewear.
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When I think of natural fibers, my first thought goes to cotton. While cotton is natural and biodegradable, some cotton growers use practices that hurt the planet in the process, like spraying pesticides and chemicals.
This is why Pact exclusively uses organic cotton, grown the way Mother Nature intended. On top of clothing for men, women, and kids, the brand produces home textiles like bedding and towels. Of course, all of their home textiles are made from that same organic cotton.
There are plenty of options when it comes to natural fabrics, and each option has its own advantages. Rawganique knows that everyone has their favorites, which is why they create clothing that runs the gamut from cotton to linen to hemp.
The common thread is that all of Rawganique’s clothing is made from sustainable and fully organic materials. The brand doesn’t stop with clothing, though. They also produce organic home products like bath textiles and bedding, as well as DIY materials you can use in your own projects at home like yarn, fabric, and rope.
Plant Faced Clothing
They may have a quirky name, but Plant Faced Clothing takes the idea of ethical apparel to every stage of their process. The brand uses exclusively natural materials for their clothing, along with vegan, water-based inks for their designs.
On top of the brand’s environmental commitment, they have a commitment to the people who contribute to their clothing as well. They use ethical manufacturing practices including paying living wages, maintaining healthy working conditions, and taking a strong stance against discrimination.
As a brand, Loomstate focuses on revolutionizing the textile industry with a commitment toward making the entire clothing production process more sustainable. The cornerstone for them is 100% organic cotton.
Loomstate looks beyond typical consumer clothing, partnering with major brands and companies to transition them to fully sustainable uniforms and branded apparel. They also work with brands like Chipotle and Shake Shack to spread sustainability to the corporate world.
Being Kind with Your Fashion: Choosing Plastic-Free Athletic Clothing Brands
Cutting out plastic from your wardrobe makes a powerful difference for the planet from day one. When you choose these plastic-free athletic clothing brands, though, your impact doesn’t stop there.
All of these brands not only use sustainable materials but take steps to make their manufacturing process more eco-friendly as well. By making kinder choices with your shopping, you’re getting the planet one step closer to providing a healthier environment for generations to come.