It is now easier than ever to choose fair trade, sustainable clothing instead of opting for cheap, fast fashion which is bad for both the environment and the people in the production chain. We take a closer look at the best eco friendly products when buying sustainable clothing.
Biodegradable Fitness Tops
The t-shirt in the photo above looks pretty unremarkable, doesn't it? A quality white t-shirt which is stretchy, comfortable, and features performance technology such as sweat wicking and anti odour. Well, that's not so hard to find, right? What if I told you that the t-shirt in the photo is actually biodegradable, and instead of laying in landfill for the next century, it would decompose naturally in three short years? Pretty incredible!
The t-shirt in question is the Eco Tech women's fitness top by Sundried and is made from the world's first biodegradable polyamide yarn. In a world of fast fashion, we rarely think about where our clothes end up once we throw them out. Do they get recycled? Do they get given to the homeless? Not really. In fact, 85% of textil waste ends up in landfill where it will stay for hundreds of years, taking up space and hurting the environment.
Instead, why not invest in a technical, performance-enhance biodegradable fitness t-shirt such as the Sundried Eco Tech women's fitness top? It features some of the world's best performance qualities so is perfect for running, cycling, yoga, Pilates, gym workouts, and all number of sports.
Bamboo is a natural, organic raw material which is sustainable and perfect for clothing as well as accessories like gloves. Bamboo is an eco-friendly replacement for plastic as it is renewable and can be replenished quickly. Bamboo grows extremely quickly – some species up to a metre a day! – which means it's perfect for harvesting at high rates for turning into textiles and is easily renewable. When it comes to greenhouse emissions, bamboo minimises CO2 and generates up to 35% more oxygen than equivalent stands of trees.
There are now lots of different brands and companies who use bamboo as a raw material for their textiles, including Sundried. It has many advantages over cotton and hopefully will be used more widely as time goes on.
Organic workout clothes
When you think organic, chances are you think about food. Organic food is not treated with pesticides and organic meat, dairy and poultry comes from animals which have not been given growth hormones or antibiotics.
Organic textiles are clothing made from materials raised in or grown in compliance with organic agricultural standards. Organic clothing may be composed of materials like cotton or jute. Sundried's yoga mat is made from organic jute fibre which is a vegetable fibre similar to hemp or flax. Jute is one of the most affordable natural fibres, second only to cotton in the amount produced and variety of uses. This means it is an excellent choice for textiles and products like the Sundried yoga mat as well as products like yoga clothes.
Helene Wright, a passionate sustainability professional and GB Age Group duathlete and triathlete, shares 7 easy sustainable swaps she has incorporated into her work and training life.
Sustainability doesn't have to be a chore
A lot of people don’t go out of their way to be sustainable because they think that the changes are expensive and require specialty products. But, the truth is there are easy and affordable swaps you can make. It is not difficult or expensive to be eco-friendly, it just takes a lifestyle change, breaking old habits and practice.
Here are a few changes that I have incorporated into my life, that I think many fellow athletes (and non-athletes) could replicate very easily. They are all small changes, but we can all make a difference.
1. Packaged foods > Homemade snacks
Nothing makes you feel like a winner more than getting in a swim before work starts. But if you follow that up with a plastic pot of muesli eaten with a plastic disposable spoon, it rather takes the shine off. Instead, try to make your smoothie or oats at home and bring them in Tupperware. Be organised and prep it the night before, so the next day you’re all set.
Also, try making your own energy bars to limit plastic wrapping waste. A great recipe book I have recently purchased is called Feed Zone Portables, a cookbook for ‘on the go athletes’, which contains lots of great but simple recipes for pre-, mid- and post-training portable snacks.
2. Cling film > Beeswax wraps
Athletes are renowned for being constantly hungry, so one of my eco-friendly staples is beeswax wraps to keep snacks fresh in your bag but without the waste. The wraps are a great alternative to using cling film (1 roll takes 1,000 years to decompose!) and can be reused over and over again. They are also a great way to transport snacks without the need for bulky Tupperware tubs – perfect if you have space constraints in your kit/gym bags! They have a natural adhesive that seals under the warmth of your hands, and are wash clean. If you’re really creative you can even make your own.
3. Single-use plastic > Reusable water bottle
Currently we buy 1 million plastic bottles worldwide every minute, with a single plastic bottle taking 450 years to decompose. By 2050, it’s thought that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, so swapping to a reusable water bottle is a no-brainer! Eliminating single-use plastic from your workout routine is a meaningful step that also justifies buying one of the cool new styles out there right now – I am currently using Sundried’s BPA-free reusable water bottle which is leak-proof and chemical-free.
4. Disposable coffee cup > Reusable coffee cup
We all know athletes love their caffeine, but did you know that because of the wax coating, your takeaway coffee cup cannot be recycled despite being made of paper? Almost all of them are incinerated, exported or sent to landfill because their plastic lining makes them costly to recycle.
Lots of coffee shops now give you a small discount if you bring your own cup, so get your own reusable cup and help cut down on this needless waste. The Sundried reusable coffee cup is double-walled so your hot drink doesn't get cold or burn your hands when you're holding it.
5. Sustainable clothing
Did you know that the production of cotton for fast fashion is the second worst industry in the world for damaging the planet next to oil mining? At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles, 25% of the world's pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton and it is estimated that in the UK alone around 350,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill every year! Brands are now proving that it is possible to create sustainable, ethical clothing without damaging the planet so look out for these when your purchasing your next round of workout clothing.
My two workout staples are Sundried’s Piz Fora training vest which is made from recycled plastic water bottles (how cool!) and Eco Tech® top made from eco-friendly biodegradable material which decomposes in a landfill within 3 years (and is super soft!).
6. Aerosol spray > Natural deodorant stick
Another must for any athlete or gym goer is some form of deodorant to keep fresh smelling. I found Your Nature natural deodorant sticks at a local eco-festival and was quite sceptical at first as I didn’t think it would stand up to its normal supermarket deodorant rivals. However, I was pleasantly surprised and have been using it ever since. Even after heavy training sessions I am still fresh! This particular brand is vegan-friendly, plastic-free, 100% natural, free from toxins and aluminium, plus the sandalwood and bergamot scent is lovely! It may seem more expensive, but I am still on my first stick 3 months after purchasing!
7. Disposable shampoo bottles > Shampoo bar and cork pot
Frequent training often means frequent hair washing, particularly for us ladies. So another way to reduce unnecessary plastic waste is to switch to shampoo and soap bars. I have fairly sensitive dry hair so found the Jason and Argon Oil shampoo bars from Lush left my hair feeling soft. Another benefit is you can get a handy cork pot, which are 100% natural and biodegradable and allow you to transport your bar without any mess!
In June 2019, disability activist Samanta Bullock collaborated with seven London-based fashion designers to form the SB shop – a line of fully inclusive, universally accessible clothing.
The shop was founded on the principle that inclusion must be for everyone, including our planet. As well as being fully inclusive of all body types, each collection is based on sustainable material practices, from sourcing Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) organic cottons to providing training for local communities in India. By combining both social and material sustainability, the SB shop hopes to provide a three dimensional understanding of inclusion.
Meet the designers
Contessina London is a family fashion brand established in 1958 in Athens, Greece. It was founded on the principle of contributing positively to our society through socially and environmentally concerned practices. Inclusion, for Contessina, is about consciousness, ethics, sustainability, integration, collaboration and human centred design. In collaboration with the SB shop, Clara from Contessina has created an exquisite jewellery collection based on the emblem of the dragonfly using silk, metallic threads and semi precious hematite.
Gunda Hefner was born and raised in Austria. Having completed her education at Central Saint Martins and the London College of Fashion, Hafner decided to start her own brand in 2016. The materials used in the products are mainly natural fibres such as wool, silk, linen, cotton, yak, alpaca and cashmere. All fabrics are sustainably sourced from small suppliers in the UK, Austria and Italy. For Hafner, the purpose of her work is to produce eco-conscious garments by minimising synthetics. She believes that by removing plastic from her garments, the consumer is both able to feel comfortable and that they have contributed positively to the fashion economy.
A stand out piece from Gunda’s collection for the SB shop is the vegan leather belt bag, which can be worn comfortably by everyone, including those in the sitting position.
AmaElla was founded in 2016 by friends Julie Kervadec and Lara Miller, with a shared vision of creating a fashion company with ethical and sustainable values at its core. Ethically made in Portugal, all AmaElla garments are manufactured using GOTS certified organic cotton – the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres with an ecological and social criteria. AmaElla produces timeless lingerie classics that are kinder to the skin, kinder to the environment and kinder to farmers and their communities. AmaElla and the SB shop have teamed up to create a beautiful range of fully inclusive underwear, including side tie knickers and front fastening bras. AmaElla’s underwear is kind to everybody.
BeKoffee is a project that aims to take advantage of spent coffee grounds to produce composites that are used as raw materials to manufacture decorative and personal pieces. The Bekoffee pieces are handmade, have a slight coffee aroma and have a unique design, inspired both by nature and human activity. Bekoffee's inspiration is based on the taste of coffee and the desire to transform a residue, which carries aroma and colour, into a new material that can be used to create pieces with culture and tradition. Diversity, incorporation, integration and involvement are synonymous of inclusion, and are too synonyms of BeKoffee. The SB BeKoffee collaboration has resulted in a stunning collection of modern, geometric necklaces and earrings.
Caroline London is an Italian London-based brand with a strong belief in sustainable fashion. Every single collection is produced to last a lifetime, and is entirely customisable – it’s all about two-part garments, using a multitude of styles and fabrics that can be mixed and matched, allowing every garment to be re-used and styled in a new and exciting way; it's like having 3 outfits in one! Every fabric is sourced locally, and every item is made in London with an accurate high-end finishing to guarantee a certain level of longevity.
Stand-out pieces from the SB Caroline collaboration include crop-style tops in pink and lace that can be coupled with various palazzo trousers in grey and floral.
House of Twiss - Peter Twiss is the name behind a deep-rooted story in the small state of Nagaland in North East India. Based in the UK, all garments are handmade in Nagaland, providing local employment to a small team of seamstresses, weavers and embroiderers. Peter has made it his aim to educate and provide employment through setting up a training centre and a fashion house in Nagaland, in order to grow a sustainable local economy. Proceeds from Twiss’ collections also go towards helping the local village infrastructure and educating the young people who live there. The House of Twiss SB collaboration is made entirely out of salvaged fabrics and includes timeless colour block/floral dresses, and a stunning printed silk jumpsuit.
Rua Luja is a London-based fashion brand set up by former lawyer, Nasim. Instead of following trends, the brand aims to create timeless pieces that can be worn year after year and still look amazing, providing a sustainable alternative to the seasonal pattern of fast fashion. Each item is hand made individually in the Rua Luja London studio and all fabrics are sustainably sourced from local suppliers, with any waste fabrics being given to local arts groups and schools to use creatively.
The Rua Luja SB collaboration has resulted in graphic zipper style dresses and chic knitted crop tops.
All items are available online at www.samantabullock.com
Sophie Kennedy is a Personal Trainer and Gym Manager with pre and postnatal qualifications. She loves endurance events having competed in numerous triathlon, marathon and ultra events. Sophie tells us about the Sundried products she couldn't live without right now.
Sundried Solaro Women's Leggings
I have never owned a pair of leggings that feel as amazing as these and give such a wonderful flattering shape. I bought these high waisted leggings having recently had a child and I feel supported and confident in them. The material and shape ensure there is no rubbing and they stay exactly where they should be through all exercise. Complete freedom of movement for full body gym workouts, dynamic movements, running, yoga and climbing. The quality can't be ignored; these leggings will last you a lifetime. If you are looking for comfort, flexibility, durability and a product with the planet in mind, these leggings are for you.
Sundried Women's Knit Shoes
These are hands down the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. Their smart look means I can wear them for walking with the pram in casual wear or out running geared up in other Sundried attire. They are so easy to slip on and off whilst feeling totally secure. These shoes are a perfect all-rounder: light on my feet, durable, breathable, attractive, and ideal for indoors, outdoors, casual wear and sport-specific.
My other go-to ethical products
The most sustainable way to shop is to not shop at all. I don't buy unnecessary products and now all my sportswear is bought from Sundried. I love the range, which is always growing, and it makes for less guilty shopping.
The same goes for energy gels, drinks and snacks. I make my own to reduce packaging, shipping, energy demands through manufacturing and also cost to me. Plant-based whole-food fuel is better for me and the environment.
About the author: Sophie Kennedy is a Sundried ambassador.
We live in a culture where burying your head in the sand is not acceptable. The fashion industry is the second largest pollutant after the oil industry and is widely known for terrible and dangerous working conditions, yet still we sit back and do not ask our favourite brands simple questions like ‘Where are your products made?’, ‘Why is this so cheap?’ and ‘What are your environmental policies?’
Read more about the ethics in the fashion industry.