Leggings aren’t pants, but it seems no one is taking my fashion advice. Everywhere I look I see hi-tech bright colored leggings and they aren’t just walking into yoga studios. They’re in the grocery store paired with a multi-textured jacket or a loopy backed tank. Everyone looks fit, and if they aren’t doing the work to be fit, they sure look as if they’re trying.
Athleisure isn’t just a fashion trend, it’s a healthy lifestyle, and some clothing companies are basing their entire business on it. Check out any brand selling the stuff and you’ll see models doing yoga, walking thru a farmer’s market and eating fresh organic food. The fashion may have originated from people becoming more health conscious, but the lifestyle is definitely a part of a growing trend, and this is where it gets ugly.
For being associated with a healthy lifestyle, hi-tech fabrics used to make this fashion are some of the unhealthiest for our planet.
Lycra (the brand name for a stretchy fiber made by Dupont CHEMICAL Company…yes…a chemical company) was just hitting the swimsuit industry in the 70s baring little resemblance to the sleek suits of today. The Lycra added stretch but a lot of the suits still had wool in them making them heavy and causing them to stay wet for what felt like weeks. Putting on my damp, heavy, cold swimsuit for practice was one of the not-so-fond memories of my young athletic days.
Swimwear, along with all workout wear, has come a long way. Manufacturers of hi-performance Athleisure are using fast drying, wicking fabrics that are lighter and designed with microfiber fabrics that compress our bodies into tighter shapes making these clothes even more attractive to a larger demographic (literally)! After working out my entire life I have to admit that I own some of this stuff, but now that I’ve discovered athletic fabrics are having the biggest negative impact on our planet, I want nothing to do with these hi-tech clothes.
These big Athleisure companies are manufacturing their fabrics to be lighter, sleeker and ultimately more damaging to our oceans. They’re using fabrics made from hi-tech yarns that all contain tiny plastic microfibers that shed with every wash. A recent study conducted last year around the Florida Keys found that 89% of the water samples collected there contained at least one piece of these plastic microfibers that came from our clothing. (Read more here.)
No one, including me, wants to wear those wool suits of yesteryear or workout clothes that never dry, but there are better, less impactful options out there and there’s something we can all do!
Do Your Homework
Learn about where your clothes are made and the fabrics used to make them.
Some of the biggest athletic manufacturers (you know who they are) are creating fabrics that are heavy with chemicals so they can be sweat resistant, stink resistant, stain resistant and other resistant.
These hi-tech fabrics are the biggest culprits because they’re made with those fine microfibers that shed in our washers and enter our water sources killing off plankton, small fish and other vital organisms that sustain our oceans. These clothing companies that promote Yoga and mindfulness are the same ones doing major damage to our planet. Check where your Athleisure is being made and most importantly the types of fabrics used to make them.
Not all Athleisure has to be damaging. MAJAMAS EARTH uses Cotton/Modal blends and reclaimed poly to ensure our impact in this category is minimal. We don’t use the hi-tech fabrics or put additives of any kind on them and we make all our fabrics in the USA under strict environmental regulations.
Thanks to a climate-change-denying administration in Washington, some of the most popular environmental sustainability programs like Energy Star (a program created by George H. W. Bush) is having it’s budget cut. This program covers everything from buildings to appliances and has had $430 billion in savings over its lifetime. As of May of this year, the program may be cut. What’s astounding is the Energy Star program had a budget of only $50 million per year (small for most governmental programs that have the brand recognition and support of the public) and it has kept 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. This is the program for appliances like laundry machines that have been designed to use less water and our only hope to ensure laundry machines of the future will be made to better filter these tiny microfibers from entering our water.
We still have the power to elect congress people who decide the fate of our planet and those supporting the Energy Star programs should be rewarded.
Think before you Buy
Finally, give a lot of thought to that workout gear you find at big box retailers (online and off). The impact these hi-tech, sweat resistant garments are having on our planet is enough to make you sweat without moving a muscle. It may seem fashionable to have the hottest look from your favorite workout line, but it’s those same companies that are doing the most damage.
Hi-tech fabrics of the future can be made with less damaging fibers and still give the same results.
Write your garment lines before buying any more clothing and insist they devise a way to minimize their impact on our oceans.
I am a firm believer in exercise and without it I would be a mess. My workout wardrobe is changing now that I know how these hi-tech fabrics are impacting our planet and I don’t feel as if I’m forced to return to the days of wet wool.
The main offenders of this fabric plastic pollution are the big boys churning out their compression, stink resistant clothing at an alarming rate. I’m smelling the stink of this clothing well before it gets on any athlete’s body, aren’t you?
Time to #CAREWHATYOUWEAR!
Remember, we all live in the same ecosystem and if the lowest part of the chain that feeds us is choking on plastic, then we are too.
– Germaine Caprio, Company Owner & Designer
What are your favorite eco-friendly Athleisure brands?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below! Your comment may even win you a free MAJAMAS garment this week!