The impacts of yoga extend far past just our own bodies and minds and into the lives of others, especially when it comes to our choices in yogawear. From the environmental effects of popular athletic fibres to the working condition of those who make our clothes, what we wear on (and off) the mat is a powerful way to bring more mindfulness into our practice.
So before you make your next purchase, here are three things to watch out for (and then 13 brands who are making it easier than ever to shop your values).
THE ISSUE: COTTON
Cotton is a favorite natural fiber for its softness and breathability, but it also comes with some very real concerns. Globally, it accounts for 25% of all insecticide use and 10% of all pesticide use, making it one of the most chemically intensive crops on earth. This impacts not only the land and ultimately waterways it ends up in, but also the health of those who grow it and sew it.
The solution: Choosing certifications like Global Organic Textiles Standard and Fairtrade Cotton ensures less chemicals (and comes with the bonus of higher labour standards!).
THE ISSUE: SYNTHETIC FIBRES
While great for wicking and shape retention, synthetic fibres are also responsible for a significant amount of microplastic pollution that goes from our washing machines and into our oceans, harming marine life. And since most of us like to wash our clothing after a nice sweaty flow, this quickly adds up with nearly half a million fibres released from polyester per wash.
The solution: Patagonia’s GUPPYFRIEND™ Washing Bag helps catch microfiber and microplastic pollution so it ends up in the garbage instead of your favorite sea creature.
THE ISSUE LABOUR RIGHTS
From the fibres grown to make our yogawear to the where the garment is sewn, labour rights issues can be rampant across long and complex fashion supply chains, with low wages, unsafe working conditions, and child labour as very real problems in many popular brands.
The solution: Look for certifications like Fairtrade America or B Corp, or choose small independent designers you trust (hint: see some below).
ETHICAL EDIT: YOGAWEAR
With so many things to watch out for, does this mean we should give up on yoga (or clothing?) altogether? Definitely not! It just means that we can try to be more mindful in our purchasing and washing, which is easy to do with these brands using innovative fabrics and transparent manufacturing practices.
An eco-friendly NYC label creating a range of sustainable loungewear and irresistibly soft yogawear made from organic cotton, bamboo and soy fibre.
US-made patterned yoga leggings and other activewear made from sustainable or recycled fabrics.
Primarily a lingerie and loungewear brand, Azura Bay also features a range of organic cotton tops and leggings that are perfect for the ethical yoga lover. When you purchase, Azura Bay will donate a part of the proceeds to a charity of your choice!
Well-known for its commitment to sustainability and material innovation, Patagonia famously cut ties with their wool supplier when news came out that the supplier had been treating sheep cruelly. Their yogawear is made with high-tech, organic materials.
Anything that has the motto “affordable ethical fashion” will get our vote, and despite EcoVibe is more of a fashion brand than an activewear one, their patterned leggings are a perfect fit for the yoga studio. The brand is a contributor to 1% for the Planet and aims to become fully zero-waste.
This label offers leggings tops and t-shirts in organic cotton – but the materials they use include eucalyptus, hemp and recycled fabrics.
UK-based brand that values low-carbon production and transparency – but also donates a part of the proceeds to charities such as Water for Kids and works actively with Surfers Against Sewage, a charity working to protect oceans from waste.
A fully organic sportswear brand that uses sustainable packaging and offers men’s and women’s ranges of ethical yogawear. The brand donates to the Samburu Tribe of Africa and the Women’s Resource Network.
This label blends their apparel and accessories expertise with a love for the planet – they have planted over 150k trees to date. The brand also creates accessories from leaf leather – quite literally a leather replacement made from leaves – but we’re especially here for their eco-friendly, colourful yogawear.
A mix of casualwear and activewear for the eco-conscious crowd, LVR offers everything from sports bras to hoodies – all in organic materials.
This entirely yoga-focused label puts effort into minimising waste and uses both recycled fibres and organic cotton.
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