Sustainable activewear brands
To find nice and affordable active wear made from sustainable, natural materials or made with less plastic or at recycled plastic fabrics is still not very easy.
When it comes to active wear it is important that the fabric will wick away the moisture. Cotton will soak up the sweat and keep wet.
When it comes to active sports and winter sports it could become potentially dangerous if you active wear absorbs all the sweat. Your body will cool down and if there is no chance for you to change clothing soon and get warm it can become a real problem.
Hiking in winter/early spring/autumn or areas where climate can change quickly, is one of those activities where active wear is a must!! (You can read more about why that could be a problem in my post hiking in winter)
When it comes to no sweat activities or low sweat activities cotton is doing a great job for me though.
Why look for sustainable active wear brands?
Chemicals in growing conventional organic, huge amounts of water for 1 organic Tshirt (2700 L of water..) Toxic dye is getting pumped from the factories into wild water in some countries where nobody is looking. Workers not getting paid fair, too many times there are no real health safety laws, so the workers get very sick while working with toxic dyes, Etc …. Etc… Etc….
Second hand active wear
It is not always possible to find good second hand active wear. So when I needed new running gear, I was very lucky when a friend I only knew from Instagram told me she could offer me some almost new active wear she is not wearing anymore.
We had the same size and I was so happy that it fit perfectly. Even a pair of running shoes!
So if you can’t find good second hand active wear, you do have the option to buy from sustainable brands than fast fashion brands.
While I was looking for plastic free fitness clothing I found a few brands that are concentrating on sustainability. Some are vegan but still plastic, some are organic and natural but non vegan, some are both, some have cotton and recycled polyester, etc. It is not easy to find a favorite when it comes to clothing and fabrics because all of us have different priorities (either vegan, or plastic free, or organic, or etc…etc.
(Some Links on this site are affiliate links. This means if you buy from one of those links I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you)
Active wear made from recycled plastic
More and more brands are concentrating on making fabrics from recycled plastic or ghost nets. This is good on one hand, on the other we need to remember that even synthetic fabrics made from recycled plastic is shedding micro-plastic-fiber when we are washing them. Plastic cannot get recycled endlessly yet. It get’‚ less sturdy after the recycling process, so some people even think it could shed more fibers than virgin plastic fiber.
Plastic cannot get recycled endlessly yet. It get’s‚ less sturdy after the recycling process, so some people even think it could shed more fibers than virgin plastic fiber.
So yes, it is great to use the plastic that’s already out there, but be aware about the micro plastic fiber.
To reduce the shedding of micro plastic fibers during washing, you can wash less, wash cold, always wait until you have a full load, or use a washing bag that collects micro fiber like the Guppy Friend Bag.
For shoes, because you don’t wash them that often, using recycled plastic is great. But natural rubber for soles is even better, because yes, we generate micro plastic from soles when we walk, jog, run, hike… I know it’s awful right? It’s everywhere.
Sustainable fashion and active wear is also more expensive so not all of us can afford it (yet), that’s why I like to concentrate on the Happiest Choice an individual can do. Not the perfect choice.
When it comes to active wear try and look for these fabrics: Organic Bamboo, Tencel, Modal, Rayon, Organic cotton, sustainable marino wool. Some companies even use coffee grind to make fabrics out of them. It is very interesting to see what’s happening and changing on the fabric-fashion market.
For shoes you could look for: Hemp, cork, recycled plastic, natural rubber, etc.
When it comes to sustainability of more natural fabrics, they sometimes still need a lot of chemicals. E.g. most fabrics made from wood, needs a lot of chemicals.
So again, it is not easy to find the perfect 100% sustainable product. Make it the happiest choice… And choose after your priorities.
A few brands I found on my research for plastic free active wear
- Patagonia has a great range of products that are sustainable made. They offer products made of wool, cotton, recycled fabrics and offer a repair and recycle system. You can send your stuff to get it repaired or you can mail them your old stuff to get it recycled. -> Patagonia-Worn Wear
- They also sell the Guppy Friend Bag, a washing bag that cathes the tiny micro plastic fibers when washing your synthetics
Organic basics* is a great sustainable fashion brand from Denmark.
They make active wear: shirts, underwear, leggings, etc. and use organic cotton, recycled polyester and are soon launching a collection where they will use Tencel! Very exciting. I can’t wait…. They now also sell the Guppyfriend Bag.
Read my review for their silver tech leggings and bra made from recycled nylon here.
This T-shirt is made of coffee grounds-> T-Shirt Sundried** other products are made of recycled plastic bottles, so make sure to use a Guppy Friend Bag.
Filippa K wants to make all of their collections sustainable by 2030. Are working with recycled wool and polyester already.
PUKA wear has Yoga/Fitness pants made of 92%organic cotton, 8% elasthan.
PACT*: They have 92% organic cotton clothing
HejHej-Mats.com (Yoga Mats made out of recycled material and you can send old mats back to get recycled into new mats. )
Engel Natur – a german company, not vegan but a lot of natural and organic products.
www.smartwool.com : they have non plastic clothing- not vegan- like active wear shirts, pants** , the socks are mostly 50-60% merino plus polyester. The nicest cotton socks I found so far have actually been diabetes socks in a normal shop somewhere 😀 They where soft and 98% cotton.
Icebreaker*: They have sustainable Marino wool clothing.
prAna*: Sustainable and fair active wear made from organic cotton or recycled plastic materials.
Athleta*: Sustainable active wear from Athleta. They work with natural materials and recycled fabrics. 60% of their products are made from sustainable materials and their goal is 80% in 2020.
Tentree*: Tentree is planting 10 trees for every purchase made. They use eco friendly materials and work together with fair producers.
If you are looking for sustainable natural active wear, always check yoga brands first.
A lot of Yoga clothing brands do use organic cotton and natural materials already. But while yoga wear is great for some sports, it is sometimes not the best for running.
I haven’t found nice and really affordable plastic free swimwear yet, but a few brands using fabrics made of recycled plastic bottles. They still shed fibers while washing them, but they don’t use new nonrenewable resources. So better than buying swimwear made of new plastic fibers? In my opinion if you cannot avoid plastic, a yes to recycled plastic. But I would only wash them by hand or in a Guppy Friend Bag.
My last bikini that I bought I found in an second hand store….ew gross you think? Well I washed them twice with hot water and laundry powder, so I don’t feel gross at all.
- Manakai swimwear is made from 100% regenerated nylon fibre from fishnets (once lost at sea) and other nylon waste (collected from factories).
- Indigoluna.net Made from Bamboo and rescued upcyled fish nets!
- The German label Frija Omnia hast partly organic cotton swimwear (95% cotton) as well as swimwear made from recycled nylon
When it comes to running shoes is limited and hard to find sustainable companies.
Natural rubber soles would be amazing because thats the spot where we are shedding micro plastic when walking, running.
There are many brands out there changing their productions quickly, using recycled materials, switching to a more eco friendly production.
Adidas is more and more on a sustainability journey, working together with parley for the ocean to make yarn out of recycled ocean plastic. They have a collection of **running shoes, that uses yarn and fabrics made from recycled ocean plastic and a few other fitness clothings made of recycled materials already. (Sometimes only the yarn, etc. so check the single items for more information what exactly is made from recycled material)
Trying to use only recycled materials for their products in the near future. Click here to check some of their parley-women collection.
What to do with old running shoes/sneakers?
First of all if you have lightly worn out shoes you could donate them to organizations like: https://soles4souls.org/ or an ethical trustworthy donation place in your neighborhood.
If you have totally run down running shoes Nike is offering a drop off, and they recycle them into Nike Grind which is used to make indoor basket ball courts, tracks, fields, and playgrounds. Drop off in Nike stores or mail the shoes to them.