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Sportswear has crept into our wardrobes to take up serious shelf space. However, for a long time, training clothes were mostly made from synthetic materials like polyester, which is not biodegradable and is produced using dangerous chemicals. In addition, with each wash, it gets rid of the microplastic fibers that are found in our water and our soil (more details below).
However, today, several brands are committed to manufacturing active equipment with ecological awareness at the forefront. For the shortlist, we considered comfortable, ethically made and environmentally friendly sportswear covering all price points and covering a wide range of low impact materials such as organic cotton, Tencel lyocell. (made from wood pulp fiber), bamboo, etc. However, it should be noted that for stretching and fit almost all workout clothes still contain a certain proportion of synthetic materials such as spandex.
So whether you’re looking for moisture-wicking crop tops or loose sweatshirts, we’ve put together a list of the best durable workout clothes.
Our selection of sustainable sportswear is Organic Basics which combines high performance and durability (see on organicbasics.com). Tentree’s ethical, eco-friendly and affordable workout clothes look stylish while keeping you in shape (see on tentree.com).
What to look for in durable workout clothes
Check the materials
Conventional sportswear is made from synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, and elastane and often uses dyes that can harm the environment. For more eco-friendly clothing, you can choose from many alternative fabrics, such as organic cotton, econyle, hemp, Tencel, bamboo, and recycled plastic materials (albeit for the elasticity , synthetic materials will be mixed).
Choose environmentally friendly and skin-friendly sportswear. Check globally recognized third party certifications such as OEKO-TEX, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Fair Trade and B-Corporation.
Comfort, use and fit
Will loose (or tight) clothing make you more comfortable? Would those cute shorts irritate? Would you like to exercise indoors or outdoors? Would compression equipment work better for you? Do you need equipment with moisture wicking properties? Do you train in summer or in winter? Ask relevant questions to buy clothes you will actually wear, rather than sexy but impractical sportswear that is relegated to the back of your closet.
How can I extend the life of my sportswear?
Keep your sports clothes clean and extend their life (not the elastic) with these practical tips. After a sweaty session, you might be tempted to throw damp sportswear in the wash. But air drying them first makes them easier to clean. If they stink a bit and get wet with stains, soak them in a drizzle of vinegar mixed with water before washing them. Turn clothes inside out before cold spin (to protect stretch and prevent sagging). Nix the dryer and let them air out.
How to avoid contributing to micro-plastic pollution?
Your comfortable synthetic sportswear has a downside – tiny plastic microfibers that fall out every time the gear is worn and washed. These tiny particles that break off from clothing and other objects are responsible for a whopping 35% of the plastic that pollutes the oceans, according to Ocean Clean Wash. Here’s how you can minimize your impact:
- Optimize the way you wash. Fill your washing machine to reduce friction between clothes. Opt for a natural liquid detergent and wash at cool temperatures on shorter cycles.
- Invest in a microfiber filter. These bulky workhorses attach themselves to a washing machine and trap fibers before they can squeeze into streams and oceans. Filters should be cleaned and waste disposed of carefully after a few washes. Check out Girlfriend Collective’s microfiber filter (see on Girlfriend.com) which is affordable and accessible, and the robust filter from Filtrol (see on Filtrol.net) which claims to have a catch rate of 89%.
- Minimize synthetic fabrics when possible. It’s not always the most practical or the most comfortable to work out in cotton clothes, but when you can rock it, know that opting for clothes made of natural fibers is the best way to avoid adding to the problem of microfibers in laundry.
Why trust Treehugger?
To compile this list, we looked for brands that are committed to sustainable principles without compromising performance. We have looked for clothes made with recycled materials, natural fibers, organic cotton and trustworthy certifications.
Author Neeti Mehra writes about luxury and is committed to a sustainable, slow and conscious life. Living a sustainable lifestyle, she builds a capsule wardrobe that can be mixed and matched across occasions and seasons.