Workout Clothes

Eco-Conscious Workout Gear That Actually Performs

With spring just around the corner (insert praying hands emoji), we’re looking to make some purchases that will help get the new season off to an endorphin-boosting start — namely, workout clothes. Since we wore last year’s leggings into the ground (and into the couch), we’re looking to get our blood pumping with a renewed commitment to exercise and hopefully, some new activewear. 

But before we start filling our carts with spandex eye candy, we’re considering the impact that our synthetic-heavy activewear purchases have on the environment. Those eye-catching sports bras and compression leggings are primarily made from polyester and nylon, which, after they’ve done their tour of duty on the track or in the gym, will permanently clog landfills.

Luckily, an increasing number of brands are using recycled iterations of these stretchy fabrics, or working with renewable fibers like bamboo and even wool. Your options for having a low environmental impact with that high-impact workout are greater than ever — click ahead to see 16 of our favorites resources for eco-friendly workout gear.


At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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Our go-to purveyor of low-impact bridesmaid and date-night dresses just launched a line of stretchy separates intended for sweaty activities. Customers can choose from either EcoMove — meant for higher-intensity movement — or EcoStretch, which is better suited to, well, stretching. Either way, sustainably-minded shoppers will be happy to know that Ref’s goods are made from REPREVE, a polyester that gives new life to recycled plastic bottles.

Shop Reformation
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Girlfriend Collective

We’re unabashed Girlfriend Collective stans — we even named their revamped FLOAT legging an MVP (Most Valuable Product) in 2020. Everything in their colorful, streamlined collection is made from recycled polyester or nylon, or cupro (a cotton byproduct), and is suited for sprinting, channel surfing, and everything in-between. The fashion community is starting to catch on to the brand’s sustainable appeal — they just launched an eco-friendly capsule collection with Net-a-Porter.

Shop Girlfriend Collective
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The direct-to-consumer brand is well-known for its lower-impact offerings, which include recycled-nylon fleece pullovers and second-life cotton toppers. The sustainable scope includes the brand’s Perform collection, a group of leggings, bike shorts, and tops made of a lightweight, second-skin fabric comprised of 58% recycled nylon.

Shop Everlane
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The inclusively-sized swimwear brand dipped its toes into activewear in 2020, launching a collection of bras, bike shorts, leggings, and windbreakers made from a lower-footprint blend of recycled polyester. Even better, the collection is rendered with the brand’s signature cheerful approach to color and pattern — unexpected hues like seafoam green and remixed zebra prints round out the assortment.

Shop Summersalt
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The Gap-owned athlesiure brand (and certified B corp) has some impressive eco-forward cred — 76% of the materials that the brand uses are considered sustainable, including recycled polyester and nylon, TENCEL, and organic cotton.

Shop Athleta
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This pioneering sustainable brand boasts a host of eco-friendly separates, perfect for working out and lounging.

Shop Prana
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The heritage sneaker brand intends to use 100% recycled polyester in all of their products by 2024 — a lofty but necessary goal for company with such a massive footprint (literally and figuratively). You can shop their existing selection of recycled-fiber options on the Primegreen landing page, which includes everything from workout must-haves like their iconic three-stripe leggings and beloved Ultraboost sneakers to everyday items like top-rated face masks and a eco-friendly take on everyone’s favorite white sneaker, the Stan Smith.

Shop Adidas
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These lightweight sneakers are made from merino wool, which requires 60% less energy to manufacture than a synthetic sneaker, in addition to being biodegradable. The brand's New Zealand-sourced wool is also certified by ZQ Merino, an industry watchdog that ensure sheep are being raised with the highest standards of welfare and sustainability.

Shop Allbirds
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Alternative Apparel

The longtime basics brand has a landing page devoted to workout-friendly goods that also check the low-impact box, thanks to fabrications in renewable fibers like tencel and recycled cotton and polyester. Their cozy gear is perfect for warming up or cooling down.

Shop Alternative Apparel
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In addition to being a B Corp-certified activewear brand with a goal of “funding sustainable poverty alleviation” through their products, outdoor and activewear brand Cotopaxi also offers a number of environmentally low-impact products. We especially love their Del Dia collection, a series of workout- and travel-friendly packs that are made from excess production fabric sourced from the brand’s factory in the Phillippines.

Shop Cotopaxi
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While it’s primarily revered for its casual eco-friendly street sneakers, French footwear brand Veja offers a running sneaker that was four years in the making — and it's as next-level as you could imagine. The body is made of a lightweight, breathable mesh derived from recycled water bottles, and the rubber sole is made of sustainably harvested from the Amazonian rainforest.

Shop Veja
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The outdoor retailer has been eco-aware since its inception in 1973, and it continues to innovate ways to lower the impact of their products. The brand’s range of activewear is no exception, with an assortment of leggings, bras, and insulating layers made from organic and recycled fibers.

Shop Patagonia
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Point your browser towards this yoga accessories brand’s “Made For Good” landing page, which collects all of its eco-minded products — including mats made from biodegradable rubber, recycled EVA-foam blocks, and towels containing repurposed plastic bottles.

Shop Manduka
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Another brand using ZQ-certified merino is Smartwool, a Colorado-based outdoor outfitter that specializes in everything from intimates to sweat-wicking base layers to toasty outer layers.

Shop Smartwool
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tasc Clothing

The fabric used for these leggings is made from recycled bamboo, which is surprisingly moisture-wicking and soft — and tasc’s proprietary blend is made without chemical finishes.

Shop tasc
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All of Wolven’s garments are made with OEKO TEX-certified recycled P.E.T fabric (RPET), which is made from recycled plastic water bottles. Not only are they determined to help save the planet, but their fun patterns and colorways help bring a little curb appeal to the sustainability game.

Shop Wolven
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