In recent years yoga clothing has not only become more flattering but planet-conscious too. With the exponential growth in people practicing yoga in the US alone, the market for yoga-inspired clothing has grown tremendously. You no longer have an excuse for showing up to your hot power vinyasa class in a pair of gym shorts and a Hanes tank top, you can recycle those poor fitting baggy beige hemp fiber pants and invest in some high quality and fashionable yoga-inspired clothing that looks good on you and is good for the planet.
Many companies are employing yogic principals like "Ahimsa" or non-harming, and applying it to their production practices, exploring ways to decrease their ecological footprint while making more comfortable, cool, and conscious yoga clothing. Designing with our needs in mind, yoga apparel companies are even creating fabulous looks that you can take off the mat and wear in your life outside of yoga class. Be a conscientious consumer and a conscious yogi. Who says you can't be eco-chic both on and off your mat?
What to look for
When shopping for sustainable styles, here are a few tips and materials to look for.
Organically Grown: Grown without synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. To be considered organic the land has to be free of synthetic tampering for a minimum of three years. Ten percent of all agricultural chemicals in the USA are used to produce cotton, which occupies just one percent of all major agricultural land. This astonishing number single-handedly drives home the point for supporting organic textile fibers.
Material longevity: What is the garment made out of and how well is it put together? These natural textile fibers- cotton, wool, linen, and hemp, are easily compostable as well as easily organically produced. With the right application, the utility and longevity of natural fibers can be extended by blending with synthetics.
Naturally derived man-made fibers: This category is in between natural and synthetics and includes wood pulp, bamboo, soy, and corn, are often used as feedstock for manufacturing processes that are similar to those used to fabricate polyester or nylon. There is no doubt that these are energy intensive industries; however the flip side is that the resulting garments can still be composted when no longer wearable. Soy and corn are the top two crops in the world most likely to be genetically modified. Commercial bamboo, wood pulp, and soy are often sourced from locations where biodiversity is threatened as a result of planting monoculture plantations. It’s doubtful that this process will be beneficial to our planet in the long run.
What about dyes? Below is a sliding scale of what to look for in dyes
Undyed: Natural color clothing is the healthiest alternative. This includes color-grown cottons and natural color wools and alpaca. Color-grown cottons are limited in colors but most commonly include shades of blue, green, brown and purple.
Low-impact fiber-reactive dyes: Synthetic dye that chemically bonds directly to the clothing fiber molecules. First used commercially in 1956, fiber reactive dyes have a fixation or absorption rate of at least 70%, creating less waste water runoff and henceforth a lower impact on the environment. They contain no heavy metals or other known toxic substances, and pass the European Union criteria for being an eco-friendly pigment. The actual dyes in almost all low-impact fiber-reactive dyes are made from synthetic petrochemicals. It has become the dye of choice for organic clothing manufacturers who want a diverse palate of vibrant colors.
Natural dyes: Surprisingly, natural dyes are often more harmful and less ecologically sound than synthetic dyes. They are far less permanent and more difficult to apply, and tend to wash out more easily. They involve the use of highly toxic bonding agents, known as mordants.
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