10 Most Sustainable Gym Clothing Brands: The Conscious Consumer’s Guide

10 Most Sustainable Gym Clothing Brands: The Conscious Consumer’s Guide

By
Quynh Nguyen

Read Time:28 Minutes

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Amid growing concerns about the textile industry’s environmental impact, there is pressure to find greener clothes for your wardrobe, from work blazers to workout leggings. Unfortunately, fashion greenwashing makes it harder for you and all other consumers to figure out which clothing brands offer the most eco-friendly garments. So, we had to ask: Which are the most sustainable gym clothing brands? 

The most sustainable gym brands are Girlfriend Collective, Definite Articles, and Tripulse, which prioritize recycled and natural fabrics that are low-impact and high-performing while aiming for circularity. In addition, Iron Roots and Happy Earth Apparel reduce carbon emissions and textile waste. 

Whether you are searching for some perfectly stretched gym leggings or a supportive exercise bra to add to your wardrobe without negatively impacting the soil, the water, the animals, and other people, there is a brand for you. So, let’s keep reading to learn more about the most sustainable gym clothing brands and how they ensure sustainable, ethical practices. 

Here’s How Sustainable Gym Clothing Brands Generally Are

Gym clothing can be one of the higher impact and less sustainable clothing categories because the strength, stretch, and support requirements are often better met by using synthetic fabrics, which don’t biodegrade and release microplastics during use and while washing. 

Sustainable: The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level | Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”

Oxford Dictionary

To understand the sustainability of natural fiber, we’ve assessed the life-cycle and each stage’s sustainability. This life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a method to evaluate the environmental impacts of products and materials. Here’s a quick summary of our LCA of gym clothing!

Here’s How We Selected the Most Sustainable Gym Clothing Brands

The brands on this list were chosen based on their commitment and actions to promote sustainable practices while reducing the environmental impacts of the textile industry. 

They are transparent about their materials, processes, and workforce management within their supply chain. 

Some brands focus their efforts on reducing waste and optimizing natural resources while others strive to reduce the carbon footprint of their clothes. 

All of these brands share the commitment to reshape the textile industry toward a more sustainable and Earth-friendly sector. 

These Are the 10 Most Sustainable Gym Clothing Brands

Overall, these gym clothing brands are sustainable. Yet, they take various approaches to reduce environmental impacts and uphold ethical standards. Let’s dive into each brand and find out more. 

1

Girlfriend Collective: Essential and Timeless Activewear Made Out of Recycled Materials

Logo for Girlfriend Collective
Screenshot of the girlfriend collective front page

We make everything locally in small batches to make sure we don’t have a negative impact on the environment.”

Girlfriend Collective 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Girlfriend Collective’s sustainability efforts start with using recycled and recyclable textile and packing materials. Their clothes are made from recycled materials such as post-consumer water bottles, fishing nets retrieved from the seas, fabric scraps, and other waste. On top of that, their packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable. After their clothes are dyed, all the wastewater is sent to a treatment plant 100 feet away. Treated water that meets safety standards is released into the waterway, while mud dye is donated to a pavement facility to be turned into paving stones. Additionally, they help prevent microfiber release with a branded microfiber filter. Their program “Recycle. Reuse. Regirlfriend.” collects old Girlfriend Collective compressive leggings and upcycles them into new pieces that can be worn again and again, reducing waste while moving toward a more circular fashion model. Lastly, Girlfriend Collective partners with EcoCart to provide a carbon-neutral option for all orders placed on their site to offset the carbon footprint of their products.

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Girlfriend Collective’s facilities are fully certified by Social Accountability International – SA8000. An SA8000 certification guarantees safe working conditions, the right to unionize, and no forced or child labor. They also ensure all workers in their supply chain are paid fair wages and provided with free lunches and guided exercise breaks. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Girlfriend Collective is not known to be part of any giving-back programs. 

🛍️

What is their clothing range?

  • Best for: womenswear
  • Product range: dresses, hoodies, sweatshirts, activewear, sportswear, maternity wear, tops, blouses, T-shirts, stockings, tights, shorts, lingerie, plus-size
  • Price range: $$$ 
  • Size range: 2XS–6XL
2

Definite Articles: For Active People Who Love Their Planet 

Logo for Definite Articles
Screenshot of the Definite Article front page

“Our fabric is not only rigorously tested and certified free of forever chemicals like BPA and PFAS, but it is also infused with an innovative technology called CiCLO that significantly accelerates the biodegradation of the garment once discarded, transforming it naturally into soil in just a few years.”

Definite Articles 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Definite Articles ensures their sustainability firstly by creating the planet’s first biodegradable performance wear to reduce plastic waste and associated pollution. In particular, they use the next generation, OEKO-TEX® certified sustainable technology “CiCLO” that enables traditional yarns like nylon and polyester to behave like natural fibers when they end up in the environment and thus biodegrade in two to three years rather than centuries. Additionally, their collection is free of harmful chemicals like BPA and PFAS and partly made with relatively low-impact textiles such as cotton under the Better Cotton Initiative or lyocell. Secondly, Definite Articles reduces their climate impact by keeping their entire supply chain locally in the US for a lower transporting carbon footprint. They also opt to pack their orders in carbon-neutral fulfillment centers.

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Definite Articles ensure their ethics by sourcing their fabrics from family-owned mills. Their Supplier Code of Conduct covers ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Definite Articles gives back by planting trees in the US. They are a reforestation partner of One Tree Planted, committing to donations of 2% their annual revenue

🛍️

What is their clothing range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear, kidswear
  • Product range: leggings, sports bras, tanks, joggers, hoodies, shorts, shirts, socks 
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XL
3

Tripulse: Activewear Made Sustainable With Certified Eucalyptus Wood Fiber

Logo for Tripulse
Screenshot of the Tripulse front page

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do and of every decision we make. It’s part of our DNA.

Franziska Mesche, Founder of Tripulse

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Tripulse ensures sustainability by sourcing low-impact materials, reducing waste, and overcompensating their carbon emission to be climate-positive. Firstly, they use a high proportion of TENCELTM lyocell made with certified eucalyptus wood fibers. Tripulse also opts for ROICA® V550, a more eco-friendly stretch alternative to spandex (elastane), for the stretch element necessary in gym leggings. Furthermore, the elastane found in a small percentage of Tripulse’s Power III fabric blend consumes less energy, requires lower CO₂ emissions than conventional elastane, and has various sustainability certifications (Bluesign®, OEKO-TEX®, and REACH). On top of that, they use organic cotton and natural rubber for elements like care labels and waistbands. Secondly, Tripulse reduces waste by designing timeless, versatile, and multifunctional garments that are durable and long-lasting, using recycled and recyclable packaging materials, and keeping clothing with minor blemishes, prototypes, or returned and refreshed clothing in circulation with their ZeroWaste Shop. Last but not least, the brand holds climate action at the center of their operation, measuring, reducing, offsetting, and overcompensating their carbon emissions. On top of using low-carbon materials and reducing waste, they offset more than their emissions in projects preventing deforestation in biodiverse areas

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Tripulse ensures their ethics by partnering with a factory certified by the Global Organic Textile Standards and paying a living wage in the final stage of their production. They are also transparent about the rest of their supply chain, publicly sharing their suppliers for various components. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Tripulse plants a tree for every product purchased via their partnership with One Tree Planted

🛍️

What is their clothing range?

  • Best for: womenswear
  • Product range: leggings, tops, T-shirts, tank tops
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XXS–3XL
4

Iron Roots: Natural Athletic Apparel 

Logo for Iron Roots
Screenshot of the Iron Roots front page

“By combining design, functionality and sustainability, we aim to create the best sportswear.

Iron Roots 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Iron Roots prioritizes sustainability by using eco-friendly plant-based textiles, cutting down textile waste, and reducing carbon footprint. Firstly, they source a high proportion of low-impact textiles, including GOTS-certified cotton, hemp, and lyocell (Lenzing‘s TENCEL™ fibers)—three of the most sustainable fabrics. Additionally, all their healthy sportswear is tested for harmful chemicals through OEKO-TEX® certifications. Secondly, Iron Roots minimizes textile waste in multiple ways, such as designing a product from a single fabric, maximizing cutting efficiency, and sometimes using the same fabric for various products. On top of that, they offer a take-back program where customers can return their worn-out Iron Roots apparel for the purpose of recycling it into new products. Lastly, they don’t offer seasonal collections to avoid overproduction. Regarding their carbon footprint, Iron Roots manufactures locally to reduce their transporting carbon emissions and offset all those occurring from shipping in their supply chain

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Iron Roots traces most of their supply chain. The manufacturing stage happens in GOTS and SMETA-certified factories in Greece, North Macedonia, and Portugal. The factory’s workers are paid living wages that average 1.5–1.7 times the minimum wage in their country.

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Iron Roots donates 50% of the profits from the Iron Roots x Sea Shepherd Wood T-shirt sale to Sea Shepherd, helping to protect the oceans.

🛍️

What is their clothing range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear
  • Product range: activewear, sportswear, hoodies, sweatshirts, accessories 
  • Price range: $$$ 
  • Size range: XS–XXL
5

Happy Earth Apparel: Earth-First Organic Clothing Brand 

Logo for Happy Earth Apparel
Screenshot of the Happy Earth Apparel front page

“We’re not cool with compromise when it’s at the expense of our world. We’ll find a good way to do something, or we won’t do it.”

Happy Earth Apparel 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Happy Earth Apparel ensures sustainability by sourcing sustainable and organic textile materials, using recycled and recyclable packaging, and reducing waste. Firstly, Happy Earth Apparel uses a high proportion of organic cotton. For example, their organic sock collection is made with organic cotton with a small percentage of recycled nylon and elastane to enhance flexibility and moisture-wicking performance. Secondly, they use 100% post-consumer, recycled plastic to make durable packaging bags that can be recycled again. Also, these bags are lightweight, cutting down on transporting emissions and costs. Lastly, Happy Earth Apparel has waste-reduction incentives regarding plastic (shipping in bulk), water (wastewater recycling and rain harvesting), and textile (low-waste cutting techniques). Furthermore, Happy Earth Apparel is Climate Neutral Certified for reducing and offsetting their emissions. They also use solar energy in their supply chain to reduce their carbon emissions. Regarding emissions that can’t be avoided, they offset through clean energy projects in the US, Uganda, India, and China. These include providing energy-efficient stoves, capturing methane, and installing biodigesters in rural homes that convert manure waste into gas for cooking. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Happy Earth Apparel ensures their ethics by binding suppliers with a Code of Conduct covering four of ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Additionally, over 95% of their products are made in Fair Trade Certified™ factories, while part of their final production stage is certified by Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP). Finally, Happy Earth Apparel traces most of their supply chain. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Happy Earth Apparel actively participates in giving-back programs. As a member of 1% for the Planet, Happy Earth Apparel is committed to donating a minimum of 1% of their revenue to charitable organizations through their Tree Planting, Climate Change, and Trash Clean-Up projects. For example, consumers can choose to plant five trees for every purchase

🛍️

What is their clothing range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear
  • Product range: shirts, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, jackets, bottoms, dresses, pants, leggings, shorts, socks, accessories 
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XXS–XXL
6

Tentree: A Lifestyle Clothing Brand That Plants Trees for Every Item Purchased

Logo for Tentree
Screenshot of the Tentree front page

“ We believe the future of business is restorative.”

Tentree 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Tentree ensures sustainability by planting trees, promoting circularity, opting for low-impact fabrics, and attaining responsible packaging. Since their inception, they have planted more than 100,000,000 trees, which helps regenerate ecosystems, capture carbon, and provide forestry jobs in communities around the world. Together with textile recycler SuperCircle and resale guru Treet, Tentree has created an integrated solution to resell or recycle pre-loved Tentree clothing items, keeping them in circulation and out of landfills. Tentree also uses eco-friendly fabrics and blends, including organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester, and TENCEL™. For example, the InMotion Tank top is made with recycled polyester (REPREVE®) and is ideal for hitting the gym. Regarding packaging, they replaced all single-use plastics with FSC-certified and 100% recycled paper. Finally, they have B Corporation and Climate Neutral certifications. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Tentree enforces fair labor practices by collaborating only with manufacturers and suppliers that guarantee a safe and respectful environment for their employees. They regularly audit their partner facilities to ensure compliance with their Code of Conduct and international labor standards. Part of their supply chains is certified by organizations that protect workers, such as Fair Wear Foundation, Global Organic Textile Standard, Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit, and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production – WRAP. Additionally, Tentree commits to protecting forests through their paper, packaging, and fabric choices. 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Giving back is a cornerstone of Tentree’s mission. Tentree plants 10 trees worldwide for every item purchased, contributing to reforestation and combating climate change. In 2022 alone, their customers helped plant over 22 million trees across nine countries, restoring over 2,000 hectares of terrestrial forests, over 1,000 hectares of coastal mangrove forests, and hundreds of hectares of marine land

🛍️

What is their clothing range?

  • Best for: kidswear, menswear, womenswear
  • Product range: T-shirts, tank tops, shirts, sweaters, cardigans, dresses, pants, hoodies, dresses, shorts, skirts, joggers, jackets, coats, underwear
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XXS–XXL
7

Boody: Fit-For-All Everyday Essentials Made With Eco-Friendly Materials

Logo for Boody
Screenshot of the the Boody front page

“Boody emphasises quality and simplicity. We bypass trends and fads as we believe they lead to overconsumption and waste.”

Boody 

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Boody ensures sustainability by sourcing organic bamboo and organic cotton for their fabrics, reducing manufacturing waste, recycling all water used in production, and using recycled packaging. By sourcing plant materials from organic farms, Boody helps to keep out synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Furthermore, their bamboo lyocell, LYOLYTE™, and bamboo viscose are manufactured in closed-loop systems where liquids and solvents are recycled, reused, or safely removed. Their cotton fibers are organically grown and certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard. Boody also has a zero-waste design, which enables knitting garments in tubes, leaving behind very little fabric wastage. Lastly, Boody encourages recycling of their ready-to-retire apparel by partnering with UPPAREL to launch The Goodness Loop. This platform enables consumers to buy a return shipping label, which starts the recycling process, and get a gift voucher to redeem on Boody’s new products. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Boody enforces fair labor practices by upholding suppliers to their Code of Conduct, which covers four of the ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. They also trace most of their supply chain. Lastly, the suppliers in their final production stage are certified by the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP). 

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

As a 1% for the Planet member, Boody donates 1% of all their online sales to non-profits who help protect the environment. Additionally, they give 10% of all online beanie sales to the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, a not-for-profit hospital and research institute dedicated to transforming cancer care. They also work with Thread Together to provide new clothing to less privileged Australians.

🛍️

What is their clothing range?

  • Best for: kidswear, menswear, womenswear
  • Product range: underwear, activewear, maternity wear, socks, stockings, tights, shorts, plus-size
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XXS–XXL
8

Organic Basics: A Carbon Neutral Brand Creating Underwear, Activewear, and Everyday Essentials

Logo for Organic Basics
Screenshot of the Organic Basics front page

We make our basics to be both Earth- and people-friendly — carefully choosing materials and fabrics that care for our environment, only partnering with factories that consider their impact too, and designing all the basics for all bodies.

Organic Basics

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Organic Basics promotes sustainability by choosing fabrics based on their environmental footprint and lifetime durability. Their clothes are made exclusively with natural fabrics (organic cotton certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard), low-impact textiles (TENCEL™ lyocell certified by the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®), or recycled materials (recycled nylon certified by the Global Recycling Standard). They use a small percentage of elastane (spandex) in some garments, such as in active sports bras, to extend the products’ longevity, which ultimately extends the lifespan. Organic Basics is fully transparent about the impact of their products, enabling consumers to understand their share in using the clothes. Organic Basics partners with Made2Flow, which calculates their emissions, and One Carbon World, which helps them reduce and offset all their emissions. Finally, they are also a B Corporation

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Organic Basics works only with trusted, certified factory partners, who ensure that their workplace is free of child labor and forced labor and that their workers enjoy a safe working space, earn a living wage, and benefit from employee perks like free lunches and childcare. They show full transparency of the location and practices in their factories. Organic Basics also audits or visits most of their suppliers

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Organic Basics donates 1% of the value of all orders to sustainable projects. Their partnership with Beam Impact enables consumers to choose where their 1% donation will go—at no extra cost to the consumers—to support local charities that help Nature Conservation, Ocean Conservation, Rewilding, or Sustainability & Gender Equity.

🛍️

What is their clothing range?

  • Best for: womenswear, menswear
  • Product range: underwear, bras, bottoms, T-shirts, tops, sweatshirts, hoodies, knitwear dresses, swimwear, socks, plus-size
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XXS–XXL
9

Threads 4 Thought: Everyday Basics Produced Responsibly 

Logo for Threads 4 Thought
Screenshot of the Threads 4 Thought front page

From our original designs to our fabrics to the factory floor, we are committed to leaving an innately smaller impact on our planet.

Threads 4 Thought

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Threads 4 Thought promotes sustainability by sourcing a high proportion of eco-friendly materials, including recycled polyester, organic cotton, and modal with Lenzing’s renewable beech tree pulp. For example, the Lunette Sports Bra contains 88% recycled polyester. Further down the life-cycle in manufacturing, they lower their environmental impacts by implementing a dye technology that eliminates all harmful chemicals and reduces water usage during the dyeing process by 95%. They also recycle 80% of their main factory’s industrial wastewater. Additionally, their packing materials are fully FSC-certified, with 90% being WaveBags, which are 100% recyclable, water resistant, and strong. Lastly, 99% of their products are transported by boat rather than air, reducing carbon emissions during the transportation stage. 

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Threads 4 Thought traces most of their supply chain and reduces their impact through Greenstory. They have a Supplier Code of Conduct that covers all ILO’s Fundamental Freedoms

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Threads 4 Thought partners with the International Rescue Committee to help people displaced due to various conflicts

🛍️

What is their clothing range?

  • Best for: menswear, womenswear, kidswear
  • Product range: sweaters, dresses, pants, jackets, blazers, shorts, hoodies, sweatshirts, T-shirts, tops, blouses, maternity, stockings, tights, jumpsuits, playsuits, sportswear, sleepwear, accessories, plus-size 
  • Price range: $$
  • Size range: XS–XXL
10

Silou: Luxurious and Sustainable Active Clothing 

Logo for Silou
Screenshot of the Silou front page

We strive to be 100% accountable for our sustainable measures—starting with product creation and production, to how our products are packaged and shipped all around the world.

Silou

🌎

How do they ensure their sustainability?

Silou is committed to using non-toxic and sustainably sourced and manufactured materials. 

They source a high proportion of lower-impact materials, including organic cotton under the Better Cotton Initiative, TENCELTM, and recycled nylon (ECONYL®). Additionally, all their products are certified by OEKO-TEX®, meaning that every component of every garment, from button to thread, has been tested for harmful substances and, therefore, is harmless for human health. Silou also opts to work with fabric mills that utilize solar energy to power weaving looms and recycle all waste material, including water, reducing the environmental impacts of their textile materials. Further down the life-cycle in the clothing manufacturing stage, they produce garments in small batches to avoid overproduction, fast fashion, landfill, and return culture. Lastly, they use some recycled packaging

🌐

How do they ensure their ethics?

Silou states that they trace all of their supply chain and make regular visits to their suppliers and factories to ensure their standards adhere to the best standards. Their manufacturing partners are located in Lithuania, Belarus, Portugal, and Italy

🤝

Are they part of any giving-back programs?

Silou is not known to be part of any giving-back programs. 

🛍️

What is their clothing range?

  • Best for: womenswear
  • Product range: sports bras, leggings, tops, T-shirts, bodysuits, tracksuit bottoms, sweatshirts, shorts, accessories
  • Price range: $$$
  • Size range: XXS–L

Why Is It Important to Buy Products Made of More Sustainable Fabrics

It is important to buy products made of more sustainable fabrics because a sustainable textile industry has a lower carbon footprint, helps save natural resources, and is better for forests, animals, and humans. 

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Reduces Your Carbon Footprint 

The production of clothing and footwear is estimated to contribute 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions—more than all international flights and shipping combined. If the fashion industry were a country, it would be the fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide

One way to reduce the carbon footprint of the clothes you buy is to opt for sustainable fabrics. Sustainable fabrics, which are often made with natural or recycled fibers, have relatively low carbon footprints compared to petroleum-based fabrics. For example, organic cotton made in the US has a carbon footprint of 2.35 kg CO2 (per ton of spun fiber)—a quarter of polyester’s carbon footprint.

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Reduces Demand For Natural Resources and Waste Management

The textile industry uses water and land to grow cotton and other fibers. It is estimated that 79 billion cubic meters of water were used for the sector worldwide in 2015. For example, producing a single cotton T-shirt requires as much water as one person drinks for 2.5 years (2,700 liters of fresh water).

Worse yet, the textile economy is vastly more linear than circular: the largest amount of resources used in clothes ended up in landfill (instead of being recycled to remake clothes). According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation,

  • Less than 3% of materials used in the textile economy in 2015 came from recycled sources.
  • In other words, more than 97% of resources used in making clothes are newly extracted. 

When clothing items are disposed of within a short period of time—under a year in the case of half of the fast fashion clothes—the natural systems that provide raw materials for fabrics don’t have enough time to recover and regenerate, which could lead to ecological breakdown. 

Sustainable fabrics are made with less water and emissions while lasting longer:

  • Because they are durable, you don’t need to buy new clothes too often. 
  • Thus, you help reduce the pressure to extract more resources for making new items. 

Similarly, making and consuming sustainable fabrics made with recycled materials reduces the demand for virgin materials while helping tackle waste management. 

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Encourages Sustainable Management of Forests

Sustainable natural fiber fabrics are made with raw materials from forests and plantations that are sustainably managed, such as complying with FSC standards

When you buy sustainable natural fiber fabrics, you discourage unsustainable forestry practices like illegal logging. You can help reduce deforestation, biodiversity loss, and the effect of climate change. 

Buying Sustainable Fabrics Encourages Fairer Treatment of Animals 

The fashion industry is rife with animal mistreatment when it comes to making animal-based fabrics like wool or silk. Every year, billions of animals suffer and die for clothing and accessories.

Buying sustainable vegan alternatives can help to reduce the pressure on raising more and more animals to meet the demand for animal-based fabrics while sacrificing their well-being and lives. 

Suppose you have to buy fabrics made with, for example, wool or silk; make sure you only choose brands committed to cruelty-free products. In that case, you help advocate better treatments for animals raised within the textile industry. 

Using Sustainable Fabrics Encourages Fairer Treatment of Textile Workers 

Recent statistics from UNICEF estimated as many as 170 million child laborers worldwide, many of whom were engaged in some form of work in the textile industry. They don’t get paid minimum wages and often work long hours. 

When you buy sustainable fabrics from brands transparent about the working conditions at their factories, you discourage the use of child labor and help promote better working conditions for textile workers.

How Can You Generally Buy More Sustainable Fabrics

The key to sustainably buying fabrics is to check on relevant environmental and original certifications. 

For natural fabrics

  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A globally recognized certification system that ensures a certain threshold of organic content has been met. It covers manufacturing, packaging, labeling, transportation, and distribution (but not what happens in the fields where crops are grown). 
  • USDA Certified Biobased Product: The USDA BioPreferred® Certification is a voluntary certification offered by the United States Department of Agriculture. The certification identifies products made from plants or other renewable materials.
  • Ecolabel: Ecolabel is the official European Union voluntary label recognized worldwide for certified products with a guaranteed, independently verified low environmental impact. The label requires high environmental standards throughout the entire life-cycle: from raw material extraction through production and distribution to disposal. It also encourages companies to develop innovative, durable, easy-to-repair, and recyclable products. 

For natural fiber semi-natural/semi-synthetic fabrics:

  • Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification: PEFC’s approaches to sustainable forest management are in line with protecting the forests globally and locally and making the certificate work for everyone. Getting a PEFC certification is strict enough to ensure the sustainable management of a forest is socially just, ecologically sound, and economically viable but attainable not only by big but small forest owners.

For recycled fabrics:

  • Recycled Claim Standard (RCS): The Textile Exchange RCS was originally developed as an international, voluntary standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of Recycled input and chain of custody. 
  • The Global Recycled Standard (GRS): The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) is an international, voluntary, full product standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of Recycled Content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions. It can be used for any product with more than 20% recycled material.

For all types of fabrics:

  • STeP by OEKO-TEX®: STeP by OEKO-TEX® is an independent certification system for brands, retailers, and manufacturers from the textile and leather industry. It communicates organizational environmental measures, including reducing carbon footprint and water usage.
  • OEKO-TEX® Standard 100: OEKO-TEX® labels aim to ensure that products pose no risk to human health (i.e., containing banned chemicals). 

Some certifications that are signaling brands’ efforts toward lowered environmental impacts and a circular economy are: 

  • B Corp Certification: The label B Corp is a certification reserved for for-profit companies. Certified holders are assessed on their social and environmental impacts. 
  • Cradle2Cradle certification: Cradle2Cradle provides a standardized approach to material circularity. It assesses whether products have been suitably designed and made with the circular economy in mind covering five critical categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.

Final Thoughts

Gymwear is a category of clothing that is often high-impact due to its frequent washing needs and its conventional use of high-impact synthetic fabrics for stretch and moisture wicking. Thus, it is important to shop with ethics and sustainability in mind when choosing your next gym leggings or crop top. 

By purchasing gym clothing from brands that commit to sustainability, you support their mission to create a fairer and less harmful textile industry for all lives on Earth. 

Here is the list (again) of the most sustainable gym clothing brands:

  • Girlfriend Collective 
  • Definite Articles
  • Tripulse
  • Iron Roots
  • Happy Earth Apparel
  • Tentree
  • Boody
  • Organic Basics
  • Threads 4 Thought
  • Silou

To make your use of these clothing items even more sustainable, follow these steps:

  1. Buy recycled or upcycled gym clothing made with low-impact materials. 
  2. Keep your gym clothing for as long as possible.
  3. At the end-of-life of your gym clothing, upcycle the materials to extend their usage and arrange for them to be recycled or properly disposed of.

Stay impactful,



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