A guide to the best sustainable activewear for your exercise routine

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If you love to spend time outdoors, exercising or doing some yoga, then you know that having perfect activewear is a must. Having activewear that is comfortable and makes you feel good is the first recipe for a successful workout.

Any kind of activity or workout requires high-performance and comfortable attires. You want a pair of leggings or shorts that can outlast your sprints or squats.

Unfortunately, most workout clothes are made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon. These materials are often preferred because they are durable, lightweight, moisture-wicking, and wrinkle-resistant.

Natural materials are not suitable for activewear unless you are doing a non-sweat activity like restorative yoga. Unlike polyester, they absorb moisture, making them quite uncomfortable.

While synthetic materials are ideal for outdoor and activewear, these materials are not environmentally friendly. Since these materials are not biodegradable, when discarded, the plastic waste ends up in landfills, where they release harmful greenhouse gases that negatively affect the environment. Moreover, the chemicals used in manufacturing such clothes may harm our bodies, causing cancer and reproductive health issues.

Additionally, synthetic materials cannot be infinitely recycled since each series of recycling lowers its quality. Even the rPET (recycled pet) will end up in landfills after its lifecycle.  Synthetic fabrics also hold bacteria from your sweat, making them smelly after some time.

As an eco-conscious person, you want to make your workout routine as sustainable as possible. Getting yourself sustainable activewear is one way of ensuring that your workout gear is sustainable. But what is sustainable activewear? Read on to discover sustainable activewear and how to shop for activewear from sustainable brands.

What is Sustainable ActiveWear

Sustainable activewear refers to workout clothing designed using eco-friendly materials, environmentally friendly manufacturing practices and eco-friendly packaging to reduce the negative environmental impact.

Features of sustainable activewear include:

  • Eco-friendly and sustainably sourced materials.
  • Sustainable manufacturing- that utilizes less energy and harsh chemicals
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • Moisture wicking properties

What to Look for When Shopping for Ethical Activewear

When shopping for eco-friendly activewear, this is what to look for in a brand.

  • Manufacturing practices

A sustainable activewear brand will ensure that the production process of all its attires utilizes minimal energy and water consumption as well as fewer or no toxic chemicals. The brand should aim at reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in its operations.

  • Materials

An ethical activewear brand will utilize natural and recycled fabrics in making its pieces. Examples of eco-friendly materials include organic cotton, lyocell, modal, hemp, bamboo, and recycled synthetics.

A sustainable brand will be committed to sourcing sustainable materials.

  • Fairtrade practices

Fairtrade practices include providing the best working conditions for workers, paying fair wages and prioritizing workers’ safety. Look for activewear brands that are transparent about their business practices.

  • Packaging and shipping

Packaging cannot be ignored when it comes to sustainability. Look for brands that aim for zero waste packaging, such as recyclable and plastic-free packaging.

The brand should also ensure that its shipping process has less carbon footprint.

Find out what the best eco-friendly packaging solutions in 2022 are here.

An eco-activewear brand will be transparent about all its processes. Moreover, its reputation should tell how sustainable it is. What are the customer reviews? How is the customer service? Does the brand have a return policy?

 Best Sustainable Activewear Brands To Try

We outlined these 12 ethical and sustainable activewear brands for you. This list is based on our experience as well as other customer reviews.

1. Fioboc

Fioboc is an apparel company that is using technology to redefine fashion. They use advanced technology to make fashionable, high-quality, and sustainable activewear for men.

In an effort to find environmentally friendly materials, Fioboc discovered Sorona, a plant-based polymer. They blend Sorona with bamboo and long-staple cotton, making it excellent at moisture-wicking and fast drying.

The tech shirts fight odors, resist stains and keep you cool. You can actually wear the shirt for a couple of days in a row.

See our detailed review of the Fioboc tech t-shirt here.

About: Sustainable Tech Activewear

Values: Eco-friendly manufacturing processes, recyclable paper packaging, ethical working conditions

Materials: Sorona (plant-based polymer made from corn), bamboo, long-staple corn.

Location: Hong Kong, China

Shipping: US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Europe (France, Spain and Germany)

Size range: M-3XL

40% off with Code ZEROWASTEMAN40

2. Patagonia

Patagonia manufactures outdoor clothing and equipment for activities such as climbing, flyfishing, snowboarding, surfing, trail running and skiing.

Their products are made of environmentally friendly materials, including recycled polyesters like the net plus material made from 100% recycled fishnets, regenerative organic certified cotton, natural rubber, and recycled nylon.

They also have a program called worn wear, where you can purchase preowned apparel or gear at friendly prices. The program seeks to extend garments’ life thereby cutting the combined waste, water and carbon footprint by more than 80% of a single garment.

Patagonia also supports organizations that tackle climate change and environmental justice.

The company offers a warranty on every product. If any of their products do not meet your expectations, you can return them to the retailer where you purchased them or to Patagonia for a replacement, repair or refund. You will only be charged a fair fee to fix wear and tear damage.

About: Outdoor Clothing and equipment

Values: 1% for the planet, Fair Trade certified

Materials: Recycled nylon and polyester, regenerative organic certified cotton and natural rubber

Location: California, USA

Shipping: International

Size range: XS-XXL

3. Boody

Boody manufactures environmentally friendly and beautiful clothing from organically grown bamboo. Everything they make is made with one purpose in mind: to make you feel good and comfortable.

Boody is committed to providing you with the highest level of comfort while keeping peace with the environment. Their priorities are simple designs, eco-friendly materials, and sustainable manufacturing.

Everything is designed to last for a long time. As a result, they only spend money on high-quality textiles.

They use organically grown bamboo because it is incredibly soft, comfortable, and breathable, making it ideal for necessities like underwear and socks that are worn close to the skin.

Learn how sustainable bamboo really is.

The company also reuses (donates to charity organizations), upcycles (made into something new) and recycles old boody pieces.

About: Men, women and baby essentials

Values: 1% for the planet, B corporation certified,  PETA vegan approved, OEKO TEX certified, gives back, eco-friendly packaging

Materials: organically grown bamboo (FSC certified)

Location: New Zealand

Shipping: International

Size range: XS-XXL

Get $20 off orders $100+ sitewide with code SWEETSUMMER (valid until 8/16/22)

4. Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective is an all-size inclusive brand that produces high-quality clothing using recycled materials such as post-consumer plastic water bottles, fishing nets from the ocean, remnants of fabric, and other recyclables.

Whether you are looking for sports bras, skirts, or leggings, they have it all. They prove to us that everybody can be an active body. 

Girlfriend collective believes that where your clothes go after you wear them is just as important as where they come from. As a result, they recycle most of their old items and make them into new outfits. Send them your old girlfriend pieces and get a $15 credit.

About: Size inclusive Activewear

Values: OEKO TEX certified, SA 8000 certified (provides health insurance and pays 125% of minimum wage), 100% recycled and recyclable packaging

Materials: Recycled polyester (BPA-free)

Location: Washington, US

Shipping: US, Canada, UK, Australia

Size range: XXS-6XL

5. Tentree

Tentree makes outdoor clothing, workout and running clothes and a range of accessories for all.

Their products are made of the most earth and skin-friendly materials such as lyocell, organic cotton, hemp, and recycled polyester. They also prioritize fair trade and ethical labor practices.

For every item you purchase, Tentree plants ten trees (hence the name) to restore ecosystems, offset their carbon emissions, and provide planting jobs in local communities worldwide. They aim to plant 1 billion trees by 2030 and have planted more than 81 Million trees worldwide so far.  

About: Adult and children’s activewear and loungewear

Values: Climate-neutral, responsible packaging, Ethical manufacturing, Certified B corp.

Materials: Tencel lyocell, organic cotton, hemp and recycled polyester.

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Shipping: International

Size range: XS-XXL

6. Allbirds

Allbirds started as a footwear company but has grown to make apparel and accessories. They have naturally made extremely comfortable shoes and activewear. Whether you are looking for hiking, running, yoga, or gym shoes and apparel, they’ve got all.

Allbirds is carbon neutral and is working on reducing its carbon emissions by half by 2025 and then to near zero by 2030. They use natural materials such as responsibly sourced merino wool, FSC-certified wood, and sustainably sourced sugarcane.

Their shoelaces are made from recycled plastic bottles, while their packaging is made of recycled cardboard.

They have an internal carbon tax and purchase verified carbon offsets to minimize their carbon footprint.

About: Best for sneakers

Values: carbon neutral, plastic-free packaging, B corp certified.

Materials: ZQ Merino-certified wool, wood, sugarcane.

Location: San Fransisco, USA

Shipping: Continental US

Size range: XS-XXXL

7. Pact

Pact’s mission is to be the world’s best-loved and most affordable clothing company. The company offers sustainable and high-performance activewear for women, men and kids

Their products are made from naturally grown and sustainably sourced cotton.

They only work with fair trade certified factories, ensuring that their factors are child-labor-free and sweatshop free.

About: Affordable activewear

Values: Works with fair trade certified factories

Materials: GOTS-certified organic wool

Location: Colorado, USA

Shipping: International

Size range: XS-2X

20% Off with Code ZWM20

8. Wolven

Wolven’s transparency in their actions is to die for. Their activewear and swimwear are ethically manufactured in China. They chose manufacturing in China, where they source the material since imported garments have less carbon footprint than imported raw materials. They also have dresses and tees made of modal fabric manufactured in L.A.

The use OEKO-Tex Certified recycled plastic fabrics

They are carbon neutral and have partnered with Carbon Neutral, where they purchase carbon credits to offset their carbon emissions.

The packaging is eco-friendly too. They use a 100% recycled poly mailer wrapped with reusable hemp twine.

They also practice ethical working conditions throughout the supply chain.

You will definitely love everything about their pieces. The prints are beautiful, and the pieces are so sexy. The fabric is also very soft and breathable.

About: Activewear and Swimwear

Values: Carbon neutral Certified, 1% for the planet, OEKO-TEX certified, Workplace Conditions Assessment (WCA) certified

Materials: Recycled plastic,  modal

Location: L.A, USA

Shipping: International

Size range: XS-XL

9. Threads for Thought

T4T aims to make fashionable apparel that positively impacts people and the environment. They make comfy and affordable activewear for men, women, and kids. I love that they also have maternity-friendly and extended sizes for our prego and plus-size sisters.

Their products are made from sustainable materials, and the dyeing is Bluesign certified.

About: Ethical Activewear and comfy basics for men and women

Values: Carbon neutral, recycles 80% of its industrial water, eco-friendly packaging using bio-based polymer bags.

Materials: Organic and BCI cotton, Tencel Modal, Recycled Nylon and Recycled polyester

Location: New York,  USA

Shipping: International

Size range: XS-XXL

10. Athleta

Athleta is a woman-owned brand aiming to inspire and empower women and girls of every community.

It makes a range of activewear for every kind of sport or activity from yoga, tennis and golf, dance and gymnastics, soccer and athletics.

Their clothes are so comfy and lightweight.

They utilize fabric made from recycled nylon and lycra spandex which guarantees 5-10 times longer life.

The fabric dries in minutes and can be machine or line dried.

About: Sustainable sportswear and activewear

Values: B corporation certified.

Materials: Recycled nylon, Lycra spandex

Location: California,  USA

Shipping: US only

Size range: XS-XXL

11. SOS Activewear

SOS activewear is all about making timeless activewear and loungewear that powers you without compromising the environment.

Their products range from sports bras, leggings, tops, sweaters, and hoodies to meet all your activewear needs.

About: Activewear and loungewear

Values: Carbon neutral, 100% recycled and recyclable packaging, ethical working conditions, and fair pay standards.

Materials: Recycled nylon, Recycled plastic bottles, bamboo viscose, and organic cotton

Location: London- United Kingdom

Shipping: International

Size range: XS-L

12. Beyond Yoga

Beyond yoga aims at making the softest and highest quality activewear for all; You’ll want to wear them daily.  

And, even our pregnant mamas are not left behind; Beyond yoga has got maternity activewear from biker shorts, and leggings to tank tops.

Beyond Yoga uses waterless printing methods that utilize less energy, generate less trash, and have a lower total carbon footprint. To have as little influence on the environment as possible, the company is using the most up-to-date technologies in manufacturing.

Their products are locally manufactured, responsibly sourced, and made of recycled materials.

About: Activewear and athleisure

Values: Bluesign certified, 100% recycled polybags  for packaging, gives back

Materials: Tencel modal

Location: California, USA

Shipping: International

Size range: XXS- 4X

Final Thoughts

The list above shows that brands are striving to make their activities more sustainable. Ethical activewear is not only good for you but also good for the environment.

Apart from buying new workout gear, there are other eco-friendly activewear alternatives. You can always thrift sustainable workout clothes at your local thrift stores or secondhand shops. Also, you can donate your old activewear to friends, family, or at a secondhand shop.

Have you tried any of these brands? What was your experience? Tell us of any other sustainable activewear brands that you know.

Photo of author

Hendrik Kaiser

I've studied biology and lived for 3 years on an off-grid permaculture farm. I love kitesurfing and keeping my body healthy and fit. Hence, I care so much about keeping our environment clean and being as zero waste as possible. Being a zerowasteman is a superpower everyone has inside of themselves, and I want to teach you how you can unleash it.

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