From the material they're made of to how they're packaged, here's how to choose sustainable activewear that does good as well as feels good
If you’re anything like me, your workout wardrobe will far surpass your going out wardrobe. But with sustainability at the forefront of my mind, I’m trying to be more conscious when I’m shopping for leggings.
Much synthetic fitness wear is made from plastic and if you find yourself spinning and gyming as much as I do, you’ll know gym wear doesn’t tend to have a very long life. Rather than compromising the environment by constantly buying and throwing out your gym attire, it makes sense to invest in environmentally conscious kit - which means workout wear that comes from brands committed to sustainable and safe, ethical production - ie. made from recycled plastic bottles / made from renewable fabric or is packaged without plastic.
What to look for in eco leggings
“Firstly, look at what is your kit made from and where the materials are sourced from” says Tori Porter , who works with ethical activewear brands. Look for material made from recycled bottles and from items rescued from landfill.
“Secondly, look at longevity of your activewear. Sustainability isn’t just about the materials, but it’s also how long your clothing lasts for and sustainable consumption. Good quality fabrics and manufacturing ensures that activewear lasts longer, so we aren’t buying more and more and throwing the old away. Finally, I would also look at the packaging and the plastic use - i.e. look for brands that use cardboard boxes and tags, rather than unnecessary plastic”
Best eco leggings for barre to brunch
As well as creating leggings I'm proud to be seen in at brunch, Perff creates high-performance leggings that are 100 per cent eco-friendly and made from 50 per cent recycled materials. When choosing partners they select them according to their sustainability practices, and all of the manufacturing of the Perff fabric lower expenditure of water and energy.
Best eco leggings for yoga
Our resident yogi (and editorial director) Victoria sings the praises of these relaxed trousers with tapered legs; made from bamboo they’re looser than normal leggings making them perfect for practising yoga in. Plus, they’re made from bamboo, which is sustainable and low-impact environmentally because it grows fast and needs no chemical fertiliser, pesticides and very little water. The fabric is processed without harmful chemicals, so it’s great for sensitive skin too.
Best eco leggings for spin
Luxury Australian activewear brand Nimble has sustainable and ethical practices at its core, with the signature fabrics made from recycled bottles - so far they’ve saved 800,000 from going into landfill. The recycled plastic bottles are broken into flakes, melted into pellets, spun into yarn and knitted into the performance fabrics. The poly bags the leggings are sent in are compostable, and the swing tags are made from recycled PET and organic cotton. These are hardwearing, but feel like you’re wearing nothing because they're so light - ideal for when you’re sweating it out on the spin bike.
Best eco leggings for boxing
Manchester-based brand Contur not only creates gym-wear in the coolest colour-ways (gold straps, anyone?) they also use repurposed nylons, ocean plastics and recycled cotton to create sustainable sports fabrics. The garments are made in London by a social enterprise and are packaged in recycled materials - recycled cardboard boxes and tags. Why for boxing, you say? Because to get through a boxing work out, I need to feel my sassiest self, and that’s exactly how these make me feel.
Best eco leggings for giving back
These bold colour block leggings are hand-crafted in London and made from Econyl regenerated yarn - a fibre created from nylon waste such as discarded fishing nets blended with other waste destined for landfill. While we'd love to show these off pounding the pavements or doing weights at the gym we'll have to settle for just wearing them for our live stream work outs for the timebeing.
During the pandemic, the brand is donating 10 percent of sales to The Trussell Trust , who supports a national network of food banks providing food and support to people in poverty.
Best eco leggings for pilates
Designed in London, Evverrvital invests time into researching fabrics that have used sustainable fibres and processes. Selected products are made from 100 per cent regenerated nylon yarn, derived from pre and post-industrial waste such a fishing nets and carpet fluff - yes, really! Plus, the leggings are seamless which not only maximises comfort, it also means fabric wastage is minimised. Seam free makes these great for pilates - no irritating seams rubbing your leg while you’re trying to find your centre.
Best eco leggings for ballet classes
Pepper and Mayne
Since 2019 100 per cent of Pepper and Mayne’s body wear has been made from recycled materials that are fully biodegradable. The materials are made from a nylon yarn that is generated from waste such as fishing nets from the oceans, fabric scraps from mills and materials that would otherwise end up in land fill - we bet they prefer being an ombre pair of leggings to festering in landfill! Victoria credits these as one of the softest leggings she owns. The baby pink hue and control wait band makes these ideal for wearing to ballet workouts.
Best eco leggings for outdoor running
Carrot, Banana, Peach
Not as stretchy as some but perfect for outdoor exercise, these leggings are made from plant-based fibres extracted from bamboo, soybean and aloe vera. the fabrics offer breathability, moisture management and are quick drying. Plus, I'd feel jazzy running in these at Park Run.
Best eco leggings for yoga newbies
Sweaty Betty Super Sculpt Leggings
17 plastic PET bottles are used per pair of Super Sculpt leggings - these bottles have been rescued from landfill but the leggings are just as soft as we’ve come to love from Sweaty Betty. The brand has also teamed up with global textile recycler SOEX - just take any old pair of leggings into a SB store, they’ll recycle them with SOEX and you’ll get a £10 off voucher for spend in store. There's nothing like a pair of Sweaty Betty leggings to make you feel like you fit in at the yoga studio...