From men’s performance shirts made from used coffee grounds and plastic bottles to women’s tights derived from old fishnets chucked in the sea, here are our favourite sustainable activewear brands.
When it comes to finding the motivation to work out daily, you can always rely on aesthetic and comfortable active wear for that extra boost of confidence. And incentive if you’re anything like me. These days, most people aren’t just wearing activewear to the gym or on their morning walks. You can wear it to run errands, meet friends for brunch, attend lectures and classes at university or even just to lounge around the house. In fact, you may find that gym attire is the type of clothing you’re wearing most often.
With fast fashion being one of the leading producers of waste, it’s becoming increasingly more important for us to be eco-conscious when buying anything from clothes to banking. You may be wondering how it’s possible for active wear to be sustainable and still be of the highest quality performance. But trust us, there’s an outstanding array of companies right here in Australia that are making this a reality. We’re talking recycled fabrics, transparency and ethical supply chains, reductions in carbon emissions, 100% carbon neutral, charity collaborations and a sustainable ethos.
So, here are 6 sustainable activewear lines we’re loving at the moment for you to get started with, be it starting your fitness journey or if you’re just looking for some new gear.
Active wear made of recycled plastic bottles? You may have never heard anything like it, but that’s exactly what this Aussie brand has been doing. You can expect your sports bras to be made of 2 plastic bottles and your leggings out of 6. Since 2015 they have recycled over 880,000 plastic bottles into their custom engineered fabrics known as Movelite and COMPRESSLITE.
So how do they do it? The recycled bottles are broken into flakes, melted into pellets and woven into the yarn of the active wear. With packaging that is fully compostable and manufacturing that is within 80km of Taiwan, you can see why one of their mantras ‘recycled is the new black’ couldn’t be more true. They’ve also got regular discounts and super funky prints!
#2 Bruce Apparel
Don’t think we’re just focusing on the ladies, there’s plenty of sustainable gym wear for guys out there too! Think essential, eco-friendly and functional.
Opting for a masculine and casual approach that steers clear of tight lycra fittings, Bruce Apparel is a small local business that puts sustainability at the forefront. Their range includes performance shirts that have thermos insulation, natural antibacterial properties, are sweat-free and highly comfortable. Oh, and did we mention each shirt made of 3 cups of used coffee grounds and up to five recycled bottles? There’s also lightweight and breathable shorts that are made of recycled polyester which uses 53% less energy to produce in comparison to normal polyester and up to 8 recycled plastic bottles!
#3 First Base
If you’re one of those women that loves wearing activewear to enhance your street style. Look no further than First Base. They are a stylish and trendy spin on your traditional combination of leggings and sports crops. The cotton used is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) 100% organic cotton and the dyes are also GOTS. The high performance active wear is also made of 78% recycled nylon and reusables. Everything from old fishing nets and wetsuits which are turned into durable yarn. Sustainable bamboo is also used in their active wear.
What’s more? The packaging is either compostable or biodegradable with recycled paper being used for everything from the invoices to the tags and even the strings on those tags!
What makes these guys even better? Every time you make a purchase, First Base plants a tree for you as part of their partnership with Carbon Neutral Australia’s Plant-A-Tree Program.
If you like to go off the beaten track and embrace exercise in the great outdoors, then Patagonia’s activewear, swimwear and adventure gear lines for men and women is for you. Do you love hiking? Or swimming? Are you an avid biker? A mountaineer? There’s something for everyone.
Patagonia pledge 1% of sales to the planet. Through which they’ve donated 89 million dollars since 1985 to grassroots environmental groups. They utilise a range of materials and technologies that amplify their sustainability initiatives. These include organic cotton, recycled nylon, durable water repellent and bluesign technologies that reduce resource consumption and assist with managing chemicals and dyes. Their active clothing lines may seem to sit on the expensive side, but they’re a long term and worthwhile investment.
#5 SQD Athletica
This is another one for the boys. With 95% of their fabrics being fully traceable and choosing to work in mills that are either Oeko-Tex 100 or Bluesign approved, you can expect your active wear to be environmentally safe in their material production. Some of their range is certified by the Global Recycled Standard for being 100% recycled polyester and each shirt in their Orion range has been made from up to 8 recycled plastic bottles.
One of SQD Athletica’s partners is Polygiene. An anti-odour technology that uses 100% recycled silver chloride to control the smell of sweat. This results in fewer washes, helps their garments last longer and saves both water and energy! As well as helps you to smell a little better whilst working out.
They have also managed to reduce single-use plastic in poly bags by half by asking suppliers to fold the clothing differently. Though this isn’t a perfect solution, it shows the company is trying it’s best to reduce its carbon footprint. And transparency is key!
#6 Girlfriend Collective
For sustainable and ethically made women’s active wear in sizes ranging from XXS to 6XL, you’ve come to the right place. Girlfriend Collective is all about body positivity, empowerment and of course, saving the environment. From muted neutrals to vibrant stand-out colours, there’s something for everyone.
Each of their compressive leggings start with 25 recycled post-consumer plastic bottles and the sports bras with 11. Their Lite leggings are made with ECONYL which is made from waste that is discarded into our oceans. Old fishing nets, for example. All tees and tanks are made from 100% cupro, a fibre created from waste the cotton industry leaves behind. The packaging is also 100% recycled and recyclable.
“Because old water bottles and fishing nets look better on you than they do clogging landfills and polluting oceans” is one of their main messages. We couldn’t agree more!
Interested in updating the rest of your wardrobe to become more sustainable? Check out these brands who are making waves in the eco-friendly fashion world.