Sustainability in activewear has started to grow in popularity in recent years - for good reason. Activewear can get a bad rap in terms of sustainability due to synthetic plastic-based materials alongside the overall ethical concerns of the fashion industry itself. Due to the criticism placed on athletic clothing materials and production, many apparel brands have taken steps to become more environmentally friendly through new innovation and production practices..
It is amazing to note that sustainable activewear is not much more expensive compared to traditional activewear. Due to so much competition, sustainability is way more affordable within activewear compared to other apparel markets. Cool things are happening with sustainable activewear and I want to walk through some important brands with you.
An innovation that is becoming increasingly popular is using recycled water bottles! Many have found that natural fibres cannot replicate the stretch of synthetics, so brands have started using plastic water bottles to create the fabric. Not only does this method prevent the creation of more plastic, but it diverts plastic from landfills to be remade into garments! One of my favourite Canadian brands that uses recycled water bottles is Inner Fire.
Switching to natural materials might seem like the simple solution, but the lack of transparency across the fashion industry is a barrier. While the materials themselves may be natural, many can be treated with chemicals. Some of these chemicals are believed to be just as bad as plastic, as it can prevent natural fibres from breaking down, essentially mimicking the problem with plastic. But don’t worry - there are solutions for this as well to make natural fibres usable and a great solution. A brand that has found a solution to this is Toronto-based Loko Sport. Loko Sport uses Bamboo, which is biodegradable and pesticide free. They also use Chitosante,an EPA Certified fabric, it is antibacterial, derived from the shells of crabs and shrimp! It is also breathable, fast-drying and odour resistant- all the benefits without the side effects of harsh chemicals. When shopping for natural materials, it's important to also ensure they are chemical free, or meet certification standards.
A new innovation I discovered when shopping for activewear was low impact and natural dyes! The dyes that are used in our activewear can be extremely harmful. Zen Nomad, a toronto-based brand uses not only sustainable materials, but with low impact dyes, or even their in-house natural dyes, hand dyed with plants they have harvested.
My own brand, preloved, focuses on small batch designs, made in house in Toronto. This is important as on a company level, we are not making more product than needed, that would eventually enter the landfill. Small batches allow us to ensure that nothing goes to waste!
Lastly, Knix, is a clothing brand that uses OEKO-TEX certified materials, ensuring there are no harmful chemicals in the garments. Not completely related to activewear, their Leak Proof underwear for periods is great for removing consumer waste created by disposable pads!
Synthetic clothes continue to do damage to the environment past its production. Microplastics are shed into waterways everytime we wash synthetic plastic materials, most notably activewear. In 2020, Scientists found that 9.25 to 15.86 million tons of microplastics are found on the ocean floor. According to The New York Times, that's equivalent to “18 to 24 shopping bags full of small plastic fragments for every foot of coastline on every continent except Antarctica.”
While even some sustainable options for activewear, such as recycled water bottles, is great for diverting waste, it still does damage by contaminating our waterways everytime we do the laundry. Thankfully, there are a few options to prevent this that are easy to implement, and some even help prevent damage to the garments:
- Guppy Bags
- Cora Ball
- Water filter for Laundry
Whether it is shopping more consciously for activewear or altering small laundry habits, it is easy to have a more sustainable lifestyle. Saving the planet one sit up at a time!