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Fossil-free Activewear: Our favorite (almost) plastic free brands

img from Nagnata

All products featured on No Kill Mag are independently selected by our writers or editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Activewear is an indispensable part of even the most basic wardrobes. A pair of leggings or biker shorts are often among the most-used items in our closet. Their stretchy, body-hugging characteristics plus dual functionality as both day wear and workout gear have us wearing them a lot.

However, activewear can be a blind spot when trying to shop more sustainably. We tend to put a spotlight on the mega fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, and SHEIN when we think of clothing terrible for the environment, but forget that 90% of the leggings and sports bras in the market are made almost entirely out of petroleum aka polyester. And the big brands like Adidas, Nike, Lululemon and Athleta churn out this micro-plastic shedding crap 24/7 –spending more money on marketing than on changing their ways to be more planet friendly.

“What about leggings made from recycled plastic bottles? Aren’t they sustainable?”

-most people

Not exactly! In fact, a recent article by Business of Fashion stated that it’s better for plastic bottles to be recycled as plastic bottles than into leggings. Why? Because bottles can be continuously recycled –as leggings, their next stop is a landfill.

So, unfortunately, they remain more of a marketing tactic than an environmental solution. After all, plastic is still coated in every fiber strand of the fabric. That means once your favorite green-label yoga pants reach the end of their usable life, they won’t be in the minute 1% of clothes get recycled. And NOT-SO-FUN fact: It takes 450 years for PET to decompose fully, not to mention the release of micro-plastic into the ocean, intoxicating marine wildlife and posing carcinogenic threats to humans ourselves.

Instead, let’s aim for low-to-none synthetics in our activewear. Whether you live in leggings or prefer loose and flowing yoga pants, there exist planet friendly options.

A few other things to look for when shopping for eco-friendly Plastic Free activewear

  • Bluesign or Okeo-Tex certification. These both look for harmful chemicals in textiles and these labels guarantee you won’t find them.
  • Natural fibers like hemp, cotton and Tencel. Tencel is a plant-based natural fiber with a high water absorption rate (50% more than cotton!), making it ideal for activewear. Merino wool is also a great option –as long as the brand is working with ethical farms.
  • For performance know that brands will likely have a small amount of spandex. We look for 5-10%.
  • It goes without saying but make sure you love the item, it fits well and you plan on owning it for a long time. Because the longest kept items are ultimately the most sustainable.

Here is A list of Ten of Our Favorite Active wear Brands

Groceries Apparel

Groceries Apparel is a sustainable clothing brand that prioritizes environmental responsibility. Their production process is entirely non-toxic, eliminating heavy metals and toxic chemicals from their supply chain. They innovatively use plant-based dyes, including food waste like avocado pits, onion skins, and coffee grounds. Their operations are vertically integrated in Downtown Los Angeles, ensuring full control over quality and adherence to their sustainability values. This approach allows Groceries Apparel to create fashion that is not only eco-friendly but also supports local communities and reduces environmental impact.

  • prices from $27 (on sale) to $69
  • sizes XS to 2XL
  • bike shorts, leggings, tanks

Reprise

With a mission to “Keep Plastic Off Your Body” how could we not include Reprise in our list? Reprise Activewear focuses on sustainability by using plant-based materials for their products. They emphasize the use of natural fibers like Tencel, derived from wood pulp, which is clean, non-toxic, and requires significantly less water than organic cotton. Their production process avoids the use of plastics, aiming to offer skin-friendly and environmentally conscious clothing options. Additionally, they maintain a commitment to local production with their fabric being knit and dyed in Los Angeles and garments sewn in New Jersey, supporting local communities and reducing their environmental footprint. They have a range of leggings, shorts and sports bras as well as classic sweats.

  • $50 – $125
  • one of the most size inclusive brands we’ve seen, with many sizes ranging from XS–6X.
  • best known for their leggings they have your activewear basics including maternity

pact

Pact is committed to sustainable and ethical fashion. They prioritize organic cotton, grown without harmful chemicals, for their clothing line. This approach significantly reduces environmental impact and promotes safer farming practices. Pact also emphasizes fair trade, ensuring ethical production with respect for workers’ rights and well-being. Their sustainable practices extend to packaging, using only materials that are recyclable or compostable.

  • $54 – $128
  • XS–2XL
  • comfy athleisurewear to live in

Nagnata

Nagnata is a luxury fashion and lifestyle brand that emphasizes sustainability, inclusivity, and cultural diversity. Their approach to fashion integrates organic and renewable fibers with innovative design, aiming to blur the lines between technical sportswear and fashion. The brand’s philosophy, “Movements Not Seasons,” reflects a commitment to seasonless fashion, reducing waste and consumerism. They also launched a genderless movement in 2020, promoting inclusivity. Nagnata’s efforts go beyond materials, challenging industry standards and advocating for environmental and social responsibility.

  • $130 – $650
  • XS–L
  • upscale and fashion forward with everything from innovative knitwear to wool outwear

MATE the label

MATE the Label is dedicated to sustainable fashion, focusing on clean, organic, and non-toxic materials. They avoid using pesticides, microplastics, formaldehyde, carcinogens, and endocrine disruptors in their products, aiming to make the fashion industry more environmentally friendly and safer for consumers. Their commitment to sustainable practices is evident in their clothing production and business ethos.

  • $17 (on sale) – $174
  • XS–3X
  • MATE the label sells a range of clothes, prices are specific to their MOVE by Mate. They also discount ‘bundles’.

Icebreaker

Icebreaker is a high end sustainable clothing company that pioneered the use of merino wool in outdoor apparel. They focus on creating natural, high-performance clothing, emphasizing the use of renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable materials. Their commitment to sustainability includes a dedication to animal welfare, reducing synthetic materials, and ensuring ethical manufacturing practices. They also aim to educate and influence the industry towards more sustainable practices.

  • $19 – $650 (for a winter parka)
  • XS–XL
  • Merino Wool base layers, leggings and winter jackets

pAKA

Paka Apparel emphasizes sustainability through the use of alpaca fiber, a natural, eco-friendly material. Their production involves working closely with over 100 Quechua women weavers in Peru, preserving Inca traditions. Each of their products includes a handwoven Inca ID, made on a handloom in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Paka’s approach integrates traditional skills with modern fashion, emphasizing environmental responsibility and cultural preservation. We love their story and their commitment to people and the planet.

  • $26 – $350
  • XXS–XXL
  • all the gear you need to run

Tracksmith

Tracksmith, a running apparel brand, is committed to excellence in design and sustainability. They use high-quality materials sourced with environmental standards like bluesign® or OEKO-TEX® Certification. The brand partners globally to find the best materials, ensuring ethical manufacturing practices, including fair wages and workers’ rights. They are also dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion in their operations and community initiatives.

  • $48 – $308
  • XS–XL
  • all the gear you need to run

Buddha Pants

Buddha Pants focuses on sustainable and ethical practices in their clothing production. They have a “Give Back Program” where they donate one product for every ten purchases. This initiative supports various organizations that work towards making the world a better place, including empowering children and aiding in global disasters. Their commitment extends to keeping the environment healthy and clean. They have a wide variety of styles of yoga pants and they’re all made from 100% cotton.

  • $48 – $108
  • XXS–XXL -size range varies according to style
  • all the gear you need to run

Arms of Andes

Arms of Andes is a sustainable brand that specializes in alpaca wool outdoor apparel. Their approach to sustainability is rooted in their single-origin production process in Peru, from sourcing alpaca wool to garment manufacturing. This method ensures full traceability and a reduced carbon footprint. Alpaca wool, known for its environmental benefits, is a key material in their products. It is naturally moisture-wicking, temperature regulating, and odor resistant, making it an eco-friendly choice for outdoor clothing.

  • $105 – $270
  • XS–XL -size range varies according to style
  • from underwear to jackets and everything in between

-Kirsten James


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