What Is Sustainable Sportswear? — By OonaK
Are you the one who does a major effort to study everything about the brand or product before the purchase and still, you are not sure whether it is ethical enough to buy? Or the one who is already sick and tired of hearing the word "sustainable"? We get it! The marketing around sustainability has gone crazy! Eco-aware shoppers need to see a huge effort to detect the real green products among all marketing jargon, while others are sick and tired of hearing the word everywhere. Sure, eco-awareness is the new must, and we encourage each and every company going more green. But what it actually means to be sustainable? It is not enough if just the marketing phrases go green.
We discussed the subject with a world-famous pole artist Oona Kivelä. Oona is a four-time Pole World Champion, Street Workout World Champion and entrepreneur with an active, yet a mindful lifestyle. She is constantly receiving collaboration requests from various companies, and lately, she has decided to fully concentrate only on sustainable brands. "There is a huge confusion among consumers and even some suppliers on sustainability. "People can't anymore to rely on the word sustainable, it is too often overused or even misused." Oona K says. With our consultation, she decided to share the three basics of sustainability with her followers. Our Three Keys To Sustainability is written sportswear in mind but can be used as the basis for almost any other sustainable products. To facilitate your everyday choices you can always rely on these key factors.
"There is a huge confusion among consumers and even some suppliers on sustainability. "People can't anymore to rely on the word sustainable, it is too often overused and misused."
Sportswear is always under heavy wear. The garment should be durable enough to last long despite the continuous stretching, friction and eroding by the sweat. Even a sustainably made garment is a waste of all work and resources if it can't last long enough. Forget the trends, find a long-lasting sports apparels that suit your own style and enjoy wearing as long as they last. In Europe, even our consumer law requires that a new product must last for a reasonable time, at least 6 months in use. Many of us have probably noticed that great quality sportswear can last even a decade or more. So say no to fast-fashion!
Sportswear material should be durable, sweat-wicking, breathable and elastic textile with great reversibility maintaining its original form. The most durable materials with these essentials are synthetic materials. The problem with synthetic materials is that they last even too long, meaning it takes even 20 to 200 years of synthetic materials to decompose. Synthetic materials are also known for releasing microplastics into nature, which can be found in animals, plants, our drinking water and almost every place on the planet. To lower the carbon footprint of synthetic textiles, use only recycled synthetic textiles such as recycled polyester and remember to use a microplastic-proof washing bag while washing. Still, the carbon footprint of recycling synthetic textiles is much higher than natural materials.
The more sustainable alternatives to synthetic materials are natural materials such as organic cotton, bamboo, viscose, modal, hemp, Tencel or Cupro. These natural alternatives are fast and sustainably renewable, comfortable to wear and easily decomposable and recyclable. Natural materials are often naturally sweat-wicking, breathable and some even durable and elastic enough to be used in sportswear. The textile industry is still innovating the perfect natural option for sportswear, one of these examples is up-cycled natural material Cupro, which is already used by the most ethical brands. Meanwhile, most natural materials are enhanced with synthetic materials such as elastane and spandex improving the durability of the textile.
Look always for recycled synthetic materials or natural materials. The eco-certified label is a great way to indicate the most sustainable product.
The main rule is that the nearer, the better! Distance means always an extra burden to the environment but in some cases, it might mean also better performing production facility. If the production is near the material resources, such as bamboo in China or recycled polyester in Europe, it reduces also the transportation burden. Always check whether the brand has its own production facility or do they outsource it to some unknown producer. Made in China does not always mean bad, but the brand has to know its manufacturers and introduce them also to customers to avoid sweat-shops and extra shipping burden.
To know that your product is really sustainable, ensure that the store has a money-back-guarantee or option to return the product, and test it well! Look always for recycled synthetic materials or natural materials. View details of the original manufacturer, hiding the manufacturer tells there might be hidden truth under all marketing speech! View our collection to see more sustainable options for your activewear wardrobe here.
Read more about Oona Kivelä here.