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Sustainable practices with our clothes can go beyond our day to day professional and casual clothes. If you regularly work out – go to the gym, run, hike, bike etc. you likely wear your workout clothes more than any other clothing in your wardrobe.
I wanted to share how I’ve been gradually updating and making my workout clothing selections more sustainable (and comfortable). This is how I’ve been adding sustainable activewear to my wardrobe.
You’re likely starting here…
Almost every brand of workout clothing is made from polyester or synthetic blends (think spandex, nylon, polyester). As you may have noticed, over time, the fabric accumulates an odor that can’t be eliminated. Also, synthetic fabrics shed micro fibers when washed. These microscopic fibers contaminate our water, food and sea life. Basically, because of their short lifespan (due to odor accumulation), the fact that polyester is a non-renewable petrochemical, and the pollution from washing, they aren’t very sustainable.
So what do you do?
If you have new polyester blend/synthetic fabrics that you’re still wearing, keep wearing them. Make them last as long as you can. Here is a multi-step process for sustainable activewear to keep them lasting, reduce odor accumulation and prevent release of synthetic fibers. Watch how I care for my workout clothes.
Ready to replace your old, synthetic clothes?
If you have older synthetic clothes that you’re ready to get rid of, consider replacing them with merino wool sustainable activewear. I know, I know, everyone thinks it’s crazy, but it’s not. Merino wool performance wear is not like wool from years ago (like an old scratchy sweater). It’s super fine, feels like a jersey knit and is so superior to synthetic fabrics. Wool is the ultimate insulator – it keeps you warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warm. I’ve been gradually adding merino wool to my workout clothes including long sleeve t-shirt, 2 t-shirts and one sleeveless top plus hiking shorts. One of my favorite sustainable (and ethical) brands is Icebreaker. This brand actually cares about animal welfare and makes high-quality products.
Why merino wool?
Another reason why merino wool is SO much better, it doesn’t accumulate odors like synthetic fabrics. This makes it so you can actually wear your one wool workout item over and over again – even in the same week – because it’s breathable. If you freeze or hang dry your wool, wear it again the same week. I know this comes down to personal preference, but I don’t mind wearing something a few times before I wash it. The beauty of this is that while merino wool activewear can be expensive you don’t need as much. This is because you won’t need a different shirt for every day you work out. I used to have 4 synthetic t-shirts and I have replaced them with two merino wool t-shirts. I have one long sleeve t-shirt. It’s all I need. If you care for these clothes properly, they will also last much longer than those synthetic items.
Another option, if you’d like to consider vegan, non-synthetic activewear (meaning no polyester), consider the brand tasc Performance which uses organic cotton and rayon.
Don’t forget about the environmental impacts from caring for your clothes. You can minimize the negative impacts of synthetic clothes with the use of a Guppy Friend and consider purchasing sustainable activewear that will last you for years to come.
Sustainable Activewear Brands that I use or have been recommended by clients:
Please note all opinions here are my own. I was not asked to endorse or mention any of the products in this blog.