Greenwashing is not cute, and unethical production shouldn’t be trending. Here’s where you can shop to get the best athletic fits and help save the planet at the same time.
Leading a sustainable lifestyle is something we all want. There's an opportunity to be more mindful in every aspect of life; our cooking, our driving habits, recycling and composting, and especially when it comes to fashion. It can be tricky to break habits of shopping at your local Lululemon or online activewear stores. The options are out there – while you may have to order online rather than walk into a store, the style and price will usually remain the same if not better.
While many brands claim to be eco-friendly, many of them are unfortunately guilty of greenwashing – marketing tactics that use colors and various keywords like “conscious” or “recycled” to persuade consumers to purchase their products without actually making any effort to become sustainable.
According to Good On You, Lululemon is not doing enough environmentally or socially to earn the title of “sustainable,” earning them a rating of 2 out of 5 based on the sourcing and production of their products. While it has a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030, it doesn't seem to be on track to meet that goal. According to Good On You, there is no evidence that it supports diversity and inclusion, or that they give their supply chain a living wage. There is also apparent evidence that it receives its materials such as cotton from unethical factories in China which use forced labor.
Lululemon isn’t the only company guilty of being unethical; other companies like Nike, Adidas, Forever 21, and Victoria’s Secret are also on the list.
Girlfriend is a brand that makes recycling their number one priority, in their products and their packaging. Their packaging is totally recyclable, and all their products are made with recycled materials like fishnets, water bottles, and fabric scraps. Each product page has a list of its materials, so they're completely transparent. They explain on their site that every piece of activewear is made from plastic. Most brands use new materials, whereas sustainable ones like Girlfriend use completely recycled plastics in their products. Rather than the plastic that is thrown away polluting the planet, they take the scraps and make them into yarn, a process called polymerization. Their process begins in Taiwan where their recycled supplies are sourced, and then the product is produced by their sewing partner in Vietnam, which is certified by the Social Accountability International, ensuring livable wages and standardized working conditions. Although they use plastics, they are all BPA and made from safe materials, and they show their certifications on their site.
Here are some products to check out:
These leggings are ultra high-waisted, and they come in five colors. They’re sweat-proof, and come with a pocket for your cards and keys. The best part? They’re made with over 70% recycled plastic water bottles.
This set is both practical and sustainable, and comes with pockets. It is made for medium workouts, and is supportive yet stretchy, and not too constricting.
This set, along with their other products are also able to be recycled with their program called ReGirlfriend, where customers can return their Girlfriend clothes that are worn, damaged, etc. and they will use them to create new products, a happy cycle of reusing materials so nothing goes to waste.
Girlfriend also offers student, medical, and military discounts of 20%.
Dryad is a unique sportswear company dedicated to creating sustainable active clothing for women, and to support the planet, their workers, and women and girls in sports. They use recycled paper packaging and recycled clothing fibers. They only have a few products on their website, four to be exact. A pair of leggings called the Gwen Tight, the Eido Shorts, Indra T- Shirt, and the Indra Vest. The clothing’s description of ingredients and its origin can be found on the “materials” page. All of the pieces are made in Portugal.
The Gwen Tight, €90
Available in black only, the Gwen Tight is created with comfort in mind, with minimal seams and ankle cuffs for maximum flexibility. They also included pockets for your keys, phone or whatever you need on your morning run. They also included reflective fibers to ensure safety at night. The fabric is made in Italy and contains 59% recycled plastic fibers.
The Indra Shirt, €46
The Indra T-Shirt comes in navy and cyan green. It is made from 80% recycled polyester, and is very breathable. Like the Gwen Tight, it’s made with lightweight material, and has reflective details.
Both pieces are pictured above.
At Dryad, their mission is to be minimalistic and defy fast fashion. They take pride in their products as they’re tested by two of their team members, ensuring the best quality products with minimal waste.
Their message to consumers is that “the most sustainable clothes are the ones you already own.” They have strong beliefs against greenwashing, and seasonal clothing changes. They see clothing as a practical part of our lives, and that each piece should be used to its fullest, and when it’s time for something new, to be mindful and make sure that the piece you're wearing isn’t hurting people or the planet.
prAna uses ingredients like wood fibers, recycled content, organic cotton, and hemp in their products. They were one of the first clothing companies to create their products in a Fair Trade Certified factory, and their goal is to have all of their products be made in those factories by 2028. Fair Trade Certified means that their employees are ensured safe working conditions and are given additional funds through premiums paid by companies, to support their living wage.
They work to keep their clothing out of landfills through a process called Circularity, where they take clothes that already exist and repair them, in order to resell them.
You can check out their climate action page, where they describe their mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
They also describe their dedication to ensuring any animal products used must follow a strict safety and comfort standard for the animals.
From leggings to yoga mats, to windbreakers, they have anything you could ever need to start your adventure or next workout, all proven to be truly sustainable.
The Becksa Short, $69
Made from 86% recycled plastic, and Fair Trade Certified, the Becksa short is on-trend and comfortable. It is stretchy, versatile, and comes in 5 colors. The fabric is ultra soft and is UPF 50. It is also a Bluesign product, meaning it is certified safe for the environment, consumers, and factory workers.
This pair of hiking shorts are made from prAna’s best-selling ReZion material, made from 95% recycled material, and it’s comfortable, lightweight, and stretchy. It’s moisture-wicking, and UPF 50, designed for hiking, but perfect for any activity.
Organic Basics takes sustainability very seriously. They don’t take shortcuts, or pretend to be eco-friendly. They partner only with factories who share the same beliefs, and only use real sustainable products that last. Like the other companies, they work to ensure their factories are safe and provide a living wage, with zero tolerance for child labor or unethical treatment of workers. You can even find descriptions of all their factories. They also show their Impact Report on their website for reference. They use 75% plant-based materials, 15% recycled, and 9% new.
Active Crop Top, $85
This crop top is made completely seamless for added durability and comfort, ensuring the product will live a long and happy life. It is made with recycled materials with ethical standards.
This moisture-wicking long sleeve shirt is perfect for workouts and hot summer days. It is uniquely made with Polygiene, a silver salt which stops bacterial growth on fabrics. It is also seamless, recycled and ethically produced.
Yogavated is a unique company which produces all of their own products by hand in the United States. They use completely recycled scraps to produce their products, and whatever scraps come out of their production is used to create other things such as dog beds and headbands. They partner with local artists to create unique, limited edition pieces. Each piece is designed and hand crafted with love and care, and they’re zero waste.
These leggings display a featured painting by artist Demitra Milan called Night Beauty. They are made with eco-friendly, non-toxic dyes, and are antimicrobial. They represent the mantra Reflect, meaning “Life is a mirror; it reflects your image back at you. You are constantly shaping the world around you with your thoughts.”
This piece is high-waisted and has a mesh stripe around the thigh. It is moisture-wicking, and made from recycled jersey material and spandex. The art was created by Archan Nair, based in Germany. This piece is called Momento, and was originally created on canvas. The leggings’ mantra is Evolve, meaning “Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained, & a destiny to follow. Realize your inner divinity & attain your innate enlightenment through recognition of who you truly already are."
We can all do a little more each day to lead a sustainable lifestyle. Being mindful is the most important part; it’s not about transforming overnight, but making small changes each day. Most of us may not consider the journey our outfit took to get to our closets, but the impact we make when purchasing new clothing can be detrimental to people and the planet. Next time you’re thinking of picking up some new workout gear, consider supporting a company that really does work toward positive change, one piece of recycled thread at a time.