life·8 min read

Our Guide to Sustainable Activewear

sustainable activewear
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Allbirds, Beyond Yoga
Sep 7, 2022

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Raise your hand if you’re looking to make some changes in how you’re shopping. We definitely are. So, in an effort to build a more sustainable wardrobe, we rounded up some of our fave eco-friendly activewear pieces. Whether you’re searching for comfy loungewear or sweat-wicking items for intense gym workouts and daily walks, we gotcha covered with our picks for the best sustainable sneakers, exercises dresses, tanks and leggings. Because endorphins make us happy, but so does living life on the green side. Look good and feel even better about these purchases.

Psst…this is part of our Relatable Fashion Week series. For more of our picks on all things sustainable clothing, click here. We’ve got recs for wardrobe staples that’ll last for years and ways you can increase the longevity of your clothes. Plus, the deets on all the ins and outs of clothing rental programs.

Machine-washable sneakers that are made from natural materials…

This pair from Allbirds reimagines the classic running shoe. They’re made with production scraps, castor bean, and fabric derived from eucalyptus trees. And the best part? The laces are even made from recycled bottles. They have cushioned support, and a flexible design to conform to your movements. Slip them on and go. You’re walking on sunshine. ($160, Allbirds)

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Biker shorts that’ll take you from your next workout class to brunch…

Biker shorts = on trend. Living sustainably = also on trend. This pair is made from organic cotton and elastane that gives it a soft and stretchy combo. They’ve got a 7-inch inseam so they won’t ride up and they’ll hug your body without feeling too constricting. Plus, there’s a pocket on each side so you can store small essentials like keys and a lip balm. They’re ethically produced, with one pair saving 13 gallons of water. Water you waiting for? ($35, Pact)

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A full-coverage sports bra for high intensity workouts…

Comfy vibes, for the win. This one from Girlfriend Collective has a high neck and a longer cut, so you can wear it on its own or with a tank top. It’s ultra supportive thanks to its soft, compressive fabric, which, BTW, is made from recycled plastic bottles. Keeping your babes supported while you look out for the environment? Yes, please. ($46, Girlfriend Collective)

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A breathable mesh tank top for your next run…

It’s giving a stylish version of your middle school gym jersey. This one is carbon neutral and made of sustainable materials like antibacterial merino wool, eucalyptus tree fiber, and recycled polyester. Plus, it has anti-chafe seaming, a relaxed fit, and quick-dry properties. So you can stay cool and focus on your workout without your clothes bunching up or getting in the way. A tank so good you’re never gonna wanna wear anything else. ($48, Allbirds)

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An exercise skirt that doesn’t even look like activewear…

Sometimes you want the comfort of activewear in a piece that feels a little bit more put together. Which is why we’re into this skirt from Reformation. This mini, which also comes in a black version, is made of performance fabric with a slight sheen (and saves 10 pounds of carbon dioxide and 22 gallons of water). It’s ideal for low-impact activities, but is also great for hot days when you don’t know what to wear. It’s fitted at the waist, but is relaxed throughout the bottom. Plus, it has built-in shorts so you can feel secure and flexible. Throw it on and go. ($78, Reformation)

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A compressive exercise dress that does it all…

This racerback dress has a built-in unitard and bra. So you can feel secure and comfy for tennis, dog walks, coffee runs — you name it. Just put your phone and keys in the inner mesh pockets so you can go hands-free. It’s not only made from recycled plastic bottles but you can also upcycle it back to Girlfriend Collective once you're ready to pass it on via the brand's ReGirlfriend program. Choose a classic neutral like black or navy or opt for a limited-edition shades. Obsessed. ($58.67+, Girlfriend Collective)

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An essential pair of everyday leggings…

This midrise, full-length pair has contoured seaming for an ultra-supportive fit. Plus, they’re made of flexible organic cotton and have a pocket on each side for your phone. Pick a solid pair for a classic look or opt for a printed pair for a fun vibe. Running errands has never felt comfier. ($38, Pact)

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A soft, cropped bra top with tons of support…

This cropped tank isn’t just *any* cropped tank. It has a built-in bra that’ll keep you supported without feeling scratchy on your skin. The cult-fave fabric is responsibly manufactured to protect factory workers and the planet, while creating the lowest environmental impact possible. Not to mention it feels like heaven and has a unique texture to keep you nice and dry. Plus, the racerback cut is uber flattering and even has UV protection. Win. ($68, Beyond Yoga)

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Seamless leggings that have a barely-there look…

Seams can be uncomfortable. And there’s nothing more annoying than feeling your workout clothes ride up while trying to get those endorphins in. This pair has an extra high-rise waist which means you can easily wear ’em with crop tops. Plus, they’re made of organic cotton and recycled nylon. Add the matching bra to make it a set. It’s a yes from us. ($58, Everlane)

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A moisture-wicking shirt that’s made from responsibly manufactured fabric…

For days when you want some extra coverage. This long sleeve tee has a fitted body and is perfect for outdoor runs on breezier days. Its thumbholes help keep the sleeves in place so you can move freely. And the smooth seaming works to eliminate rubbing and irritation. ($66, Beyond Yoga)

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A midweight pullover that’ll keep you warm…

A good fleece is essential whether you’re throwing it on with a pair of leggings or simply need an extra layer for warmth. This one from Patagonia is made with antibacterial, recycled polyester and is manufactured in a fair-trade certified facility. The off-shoulder seams mean you’ll have total shoulder mobility and no chafing. And the quarter-zip makes it easy to adjust for warmth as well. It’s light enough to fit into your gym bag and/or throw it over a tank. ($99, REI)

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A short-sleeve tee that has a hint of stretch…

Customers rave about this ultra-soft CloudKnit material from Outdoor Voices. It’s bluesign approved, which means that it’s made with a textile that has the lowest possible environmental burden and is ethically produced in a way that’s safe for workers and consumers. It’s lightweight, super stretchy, and has a classic T-shirt fit you know and love. Wear it for a comfy WFH day or during your next low-impact workout. An activewear must-have. ($58, Outdoor Voices)

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