Next time you’re planning out your training regimen, why not try to upgrade it to a more sustainable one? By working out in a more sustainable way, you will make a significant step towards protecting our planet. Here are some simple ways that you can make your training a little greener.
Take up yoga
Yoga teaches you to connect with the environment and obtain a deeper appreciation for it, which could translate into understanding why sustainability is so critical to preserving our planet. This type of exercise requires very little equipment and no electricity which makes it a great means of sustainable exercising.
It’s not necessary to visit the gym for a great workout. There are plenty of ways that you can keep fit at home, it just requires the willpower to do so. By investing in some weights and equipment that doesn’t use electricity, you’ll be able to avoid fitness centres and keep to a very small environmental footprint.
Use your legs
Anything that you do on a treadmill or a static bike, you can do outside without wasting electricity. By choosing to cycle, run, and walk outside, you can also enjoy the beautiful sites around you rather than staring at a gym wall.
Choose the open water
Why not swap the pool for the sea, a lake, or a river? Swimming pools require copious amounts of energy to heat, treat and keep clean which means they have an extremely high carbon footprint. An open water source is a much more sustainable way to get your swimming miles in and is far more interesting than just swimming length after length.
Be selective with your gym equipment
If the gym is your favourite place to work out, then why not choose to utilise the equipment that does not waste much electricity? Opt for free-weights rather than machines to keep your environmental impact to a minimum. Another option is to look for a gym that values sustainability and invests in eco-friendly equipment, such as bikes that generate electricity rather than use it.
Incorporate training into your commute
Instead of driving to work and then going to an evening spin class for your daily dose of exercise, use your bike to commute to work. You’ll be working out and saving the planet at the same time… winner!
Support green organisations
Try to sign up for events and races that are run by organisations who are committed to sustainability and making a difference to local communities.
It’s not hard to incorporate some sustainability into your exercise routines. It just takes a little bit of thought and some simple changes which can make a real difference.
Sundried recently ran a poll asking the public where they think their old clothing ends up when they throw it out. Is this something you've ever thought about? 25% of respondents admitted they've never thought about it. Here's what really happens to your old clothes when you throw them out.
What really happens to donated clothes?
According to the BBC, in the UK alone we throw out over a million tonnes of clothing every year. That's a lot of waste! We may not think of clothing as waste, but it ends up in landfill just like all the other rubbish we throw out and sits there for hundreds of years, contributing to the global pollution crisis. Understandably, a lot of people decide to donate their clothes to charity shops or clothes banks in order to prevent this waste and in the hopes their old clothes could potentially help the less fortunate. But what really happens to donated clothes?
British charity WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) estimates that over 70% of donated clothes worldwide get exported overseas in an expensive and polluting second-hand garment trade . According to figures released by the UN, Britain is the second largest exporter of second-hand clothing, after the USA. The UK exports over 351,000 tons of old clothes – with an export value of £380m – to countries like Poland, Pakistan, and Ghana.
What once started as donations end up as tradable goods.
Do clothes get recycled?
Textile and garment recycling is hugely on the rise as global interest in environmental consciousness increases. Clothes that are thrown out by everyday people become what is known as 'post-consumer' and these post-consumer textiles can have a huge value to those who know what to do with them.
When you throw out your clothing to be recycled, it will either be reusable or not reusable, depending on the condition it is in. If it is still in a wearable condition, it might be sold on to third world countries as outlined above. If it is in bad condition – ripped, stained, or otherwise damaged – it will be sorted into rags, scraps, and fibrous material which can be recycled, sometimes into new clothing.
Clothing that is sent to be recycled gets collected from the donation bins or shops and is processed at dedicated facilities. At these processing facilities, the recycled clothes are shredded, treated and then re-purposed. The material can be used for acoustic dampening materials, carpet padding, insulation, or turned into rags for the automobile industry.
Because the recycling process stretches and weakens the fibers, only a small percentage of post-consumer polyester can be used to make new clothing. H&M’s sustainability report for 2016 showed that only 0.7 percent of their fabrics were created from recycled materials.
Old clothing is processed and turned into padding, insulation, and rags. Only a tiny percentage is turned into new clothing.
How can you be more environmentally friendly?
One of the best ways to be environmentally friendly is not to buy too many new clothes each year and wear what you do own as much as possible before throwing it out. Avoid buying very cheap clothing as this is more likely to be mass-produced and poor quality, therefore lasting less time and being thrown out more readily. If you spend a little more on quality clothing, you're more likely to care for it and want to get as many wears out of it as possible.
At Sundried, all of our activewear is made with longevity in mind so that it can last as long as possible. Our clothing will retain its colour and shape wash after wash, wear after wear, so that you can keep it for years.
Sundried also has a range of biodegradable t-shirts which biodegrade in 3 short years when exposed to the anaerobic environment of landfill. This means that once you do throw out your t-shirt, you can be safe in the knowledge that it won't be polluting the planet for hundreds of years.
These fitness tops by Sundried are biodegradable
Another way to be more environmentally friendly is to buy clothing made from recycled raw materials like plastic bottles or coffee grounds. At Sundried, we offer two collections made from recycled materials which help to reduce waste and clean up the planet. Our Eco Core range is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and the innovative fabric dries 200 times faster than cotton, meaning the wearer can stay dry and comfortable even during a sweaty workout. The fabric is also super soft and kind to the skin, making it perfect for activewear.
So next time you're thinking of buying new activewear, why not go for the eco-friendly choices and see how it can benefit you?
When is the last time you stopped to think about how sustainable your training and racing garments are? We often get sucked into the new trends and latest sporting technologies but neglect to consider where our clothes have come from. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to improve the sustainability of your workout wardrobe!
Buy less, wear more
A really simple but effective way to reduce your impact on the planet is to create a capsule wardrobe that is equipped for all your fitness needs. Previously, I have been guilty of hoarding copious amounts of activewear to such an extent that I don’t even know what I own anymore. By only purchasing what I need, I have created a clutter-free wardrobe that is absent from unnecessary impulse buys.
Buy sustainable activewear
Traditionally, activewear is manufactured from synthetic fabrics to ensure that they are lightweight, stretchy, and sweat wicking. Unfortunately, these ideal workout fabrics are far from environmentally-friendly. Nylon, polyester and spandex require huge amounts of energy to produce and release tiny toxic micro-particles into our water systems which harm aquatic life. The solution? Individuals need to be more sustainable with their activewear choices and look to brands like Sundried to source their kit.
Buy better quality clothes
Fast fashion culture is a very problematic movement in today’s society but luckily the public is wising up to the unethical nature of this ethos. If you can’t find an ethical alternative to a garment that you require, ensure it is of a high quality. Investing in a product that is going to be long-lasting will minimise your impact on the planet by enabling you to buy less.
Buy second-hand kit
Athletes might be less inclined to buy vintage sportswear in the fear of the kit arriving in poor condition. However, after conducting my own searches on online sites like eBay, I have discovered that this isn’t the case. By using the right search filters and doing your research, it is easy to find used items that are in excellent condition.
If you aren’t convinced by the prospect of second-hand clothing, then maybe the cost-saving benefit will sway your opinion. Last month I ordered a pair of unworn leggings from eBay for under £4 that would normally retail at around £30, and a nearly new tracksuit jacket for £10 that would normally retail at around £50. A pair of absolute bargains!
Sell your unwanted kit
Ethical disposal of your old activewear is a key element of sustainable sports fashion. A great way to discard of your clothing is to sell it on sites like eBay or Depop. If a product isn’t in good enough condition to sell, then ensure that it is recycled by sending it to a charity shop for textiles or taking it to a recycling centre.
Make your washing habits more sustainable
You can make your wardrobe eco-friendly by changing your washing habits. By washing your clothes at 10 degrees cooler, it will not only save electricity but prevent any damage occurring to your clothes, resulting in them lasting longer. Also consider investing in an eco-ball to replace your washing powders and tablets which contain harmful micro-plastics that are toxic to aquatic life.
Support local brands
Buy from local businesses to save on transport miles. Look to reuse the packaging that you receive with your purchases too and advocate brands which limit plastic use; Sundried uses lovely eco-friendly tote bags and drawstring sacks to package their items for delivery.
I hope you can all use some of these tips to make your activewear more sustainable. It’s important to understand that to create an ethical activewear wardrobe, the answer does not lie with purchasing more kit. Take a look through your current clothing and identify the items that are worth keeping, those that need selling on, and those which are ready to be recycled.
About the author: Laura Smith is an accomplished athlete and university graduate. She has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
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!