I always feel most attuned with nature when I’m exercising. Even when I’m not hiking in the woods or biking on the trail, somehow feeling my body move underneath me puts me more in touch with the natural world. As a result, most of my efforts to go green are centered around diet and exercise. Even though so much workout gear is made from synthetic or unsustainable materials, I have been able to find a lot of eco-friendly exercise accessories online that meet my criteria of sustainability, aesthetics, and comfort.
What better way to celebrate your greenness than off-road it a little and get out into nature? I love Timberland hiking boots because they are super-durable and super-sustainable. The laces are made from 100 percent recycled plastics, the soles recycled rubber, and the boot itself is hand-sewn to eliminate toxic adhesives.
Also check out Lafuma backpacks. All Lafuma products are entirely sustainable, and the company is a partner of the World Wildlife Federation. Their line of backpacks has features like gel strap inserts for maximum comfort, hydration pockets with tube ports, and three-point adjustment for optimum support.
If you prefer to hit the trails on two wheels, Krank Dirtwear is the go-to site for all your gear. Krank donates 5 percent of all sales profits to the World Wildlife Federation and is committed to environmental initiatives like marine conservation, community support, and sustainable forests. Not to mention that they’ve got tons of hot gear for women, plus biking and bike maintenance advice right on the site!
And if you’re really serious about greening your ride, check out Bike Bamboo. Bamboo mountain bikes are a serious alternative to carbon or titanium; its strength and light weight make it an ideal material for bike construction that is entirely natural and eco-friendly.
The process of manufacturing running shoes is often very wasteful, and many of the structural pieces are petroleum-based. Fortunately, Brooks Cascadia has developed technologies that minimize the environmental damage done by making shoes. They use green rubber outsoles, made with silica sand as the toughening agent rather than carbon black, which is a petroleum-based by-product of burning natural gas. Not only is this easier on the environment, but the result is an outsole three times as durable as the blown rubber that typically resides in the forefoot of modern running shoes. Brooks also uses new MOGO construction rather than compressed construction for their midsoles. A pellet form of EVA is placed into individual molds and measured by weight. The pellets are then melted down, forming the midsole of the shoe. This yields a more consistent midsole density as well as reducing construction waste by over 50 percent.
All pools unfortunately use tons of chlorine and other chemicals that leave you feeling not so green, except for maybe your hair. But there is plenty of sustainable swimwear out there to make those laps ride a little easier on your conscience. After all, swimming is the best exercise! My favorite site is Patagonia, which has great, environmentally-conscious bathing suits and wetsuits. With tons of different styles and colors, all made from recycled and sustainable materials, you’ll feel and look great poolside or at the beach. Not to mention that 1 percent of all sales goes to environmental causes.
Yoga builds your appreciation for the physical and spiritual world around you, so it’s no surprise that most yogis are vegetarians and committed to living sustainably. As a result, it’s actually difficult to find yoga gear that isn’t green. The tried and true yoga staple is Gaiam, where you can find everything you need for your practice. From organic clothing, to props, to building an atmosphere in your studio or living space, this is the place to shop.
Sometimes you just need to work up a sweat. The problem is that organic cotton, since it holds sweat, can leave you feeling chafed, chilled, and bogged down with wet clothes. Bamboo, hemp, and soy all require heavy processing to make them gym-worthy. Find sleek items at Nau or Patagonia.