Liz Wootton shares her pick of the best ethical yoga brands, so your practice can be as good for the planet as it is for your body and mind.
Updated: March 1st 2020
Yoga means different things to different people: some view it as a chance to relax and unwind, whilst others relish the challenge of twisting and bending their bodies into pretzel-like shapes or else use it to rehabilitate a specific injury or ailment. Whilst many focus on the physical side of yoga, many long-practising yogis actually believe that the practice transcends its physical form, instead offering us the chance to reflect upon our own thoughts and actions and improve our self-awareness and attitude.
Whatever yoga means to you and however you like to practice it, there’s one thing for certain – there are a whole host of benefits to doing so. But, while practising yoga is good for you, you should also be making sure it’s good for the planet too. From mats and tops to leggings and props, the items that you use to enable and support your flow could also be helping to make positive change in the world too.
Rather than channelling all your energy towards touching your toes or holding a handstand, this International Day of Yoga take some time to focus on cultivating a more conscious, kinder, and ultimately greener, way of living – both on and off the mat.
Wearing is Caring
Image credit: Carrot Banana Peach
Finding the perfect yoga wear is important, as the functionality of what you’re wearing can really make or break your experience. Constantly having to pull down your top, hike up your leggings or rearrange your sports bra is definitely not conducive to a relaxing practice, and, as you can imagine, being on the mat behind someone who’s experiencing these wardrobe issues is also not the most pleasant experience. Therefore, it’s really important to find the right clothes – ones that will bend, stretch and breathe with you, supporting you throughout your class.
Ensuring that your workout wardrobe ticks all the functionality boxes while remaining good for the planet can sometimes feel harder than doing chaturanga – But never fear, no matter your shape and style, we’ve got some firm favourites in the ethical and sustainable yoga wear department, which you’re sure to absolutely love.
The ATHLETIX Collection is Italian luxury brand REDEMPTION’s most sustainable collection to date. Using responsibly-sourced materials such as recycled nylon and polyester, the athleisure line is true to the brand’s glamorous aesthetic. From leggings to tank tops in various colourways, these eye catching designs are sure to liven up your morning flow. And all labelling and packacing is recycled and FSC certified to, for added bonus points!
Image credit: Planet Warrior
One yoga wear brand who get it absolutely spot on is Planet Warrior, which was founded by sisters Josie and Juliette. Not only do its leggings fit like a glove, they are also made from recycled plastic bottles and arrive in gorgeous recycled and recyclable eco-packaging.
Another ethical yoga clothing brand we can’t get enough of is Carrot Banana Peach. As the name suggests, all of its activewear is crafted from natural ingredients, such as bamboo, soybean, aloe vera and cotton. The result: unbelievably soft, comfortable and flattering yoga wear which really does perform, no matter how hot and sweaty the class happens to be. Read our exclusive interview with the founder of Carrot Banana Peach.
Image credit: Asquith
On a mission to create clothes that make you feel good ‘inside and out’, Asquith is another fantastic option if you’re searching for an ethical yoga clothing brand. We love its classic, minimalist design, the wonderfully soft eco fabrics it uses and the sheer versatility of the pieces – going straight from power flow to power lunch has never been easier.
Image credit: Evamoso
With only three products in its repertoire, Evamoso has really focused its efforts on ensuring perfection throughout its product range. We especially love the gorgeous Eva leggings, which are made using ECONYL® – a regenerated nylon yarn made out of landfill and ocean waste. The end product is an absolutely fabulous pair of soft, flattering, quick-drying and UV protective leggings, which also use muscular compression to enhance performance when exercising – Sun Salutations never felt so good. Read more about the innovative and sustainable fabrics of the future here.
As well as ensuring what you wear to a yoga class is made from more sustainable materials and under ethical conditions, it’s also worth taking a look at the mat you’re practising on. The majority of yoga mats are made from PVC because of its grip performance, durability and cheap price. PVC, however, also comes at a great cost to ours and the planet’s health. Known as the most toxic plastic around, PVC is actually toxic during every single stage of its life cycle – definitely not something you want to be touching and breathing in throughout your class.
Image credit: Yogi Bare
The good news? There is a whole range of fantastic alternatives out there, which are much better for both yours and the planet’s health. One of our absolute favourites is Yogi Bare – its amazing range of beautiful and functional mats are all made from alternatives to PVC, including biodegradable natural rubber and recyclable TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), which is non-toxic to boot. Worried that you won’t get the same grip and durability from a non-PVC mat? Fear not: Yogi Bare mats are all about the grip. Gone are the days of desperately sliding around on your mat in the middle of a particularly sweaty hot yoga class.
Image credit: Liforme
Liforme is another fabulous company that make completely game-changing yoga mats. The team behind Liforme spent over five years (yes, really!) researching and developing the best non-toxic and sustainable material for their mats. The resulting mats are completely biodegradable and take 1-5 years to completely break down in landfill conditions – much better than the PVC alternatives, which never really degrade. As well as its mats, Liforme also has a really handy selection of smaller yoga ‘pads’, which are great for travelling or even when you just want to do a quick few minutes at home and don’t want to dig out your full-sized mat.
Image credit: Ekotex Yoga
Now that your clothes and mat are both sorted out, the next thing to consider is the props you use. Yes, we all love the array of blocks, bricks, straps and bolsters that help us to deepen our practice and make our way into otherwise inaccessible asanas, but (as with everything) it is good to consider where the material used in making these items comes from and the impact they are having on the world around us.
As well as great mats, Yogi Bare also has a range of environmentally-friendly blocks, straps and wheels – perfect for complementing your practice. Another great eco yoga equipment provider is Ekotex Yoga, which tries to ensure that the majority of the products it stocks are organic, natural and as sustainable as possible. The site has a great selection of cork bricks and blocks, which are both eco-friendly and sustainably-produced, and we especially love the organic cotton bolsters. Stuffed with buckwheat husk, these bolsters are completely natural and also mould to the shape of your body perfectly – we can’t think of a better companion for your restorative yoga class.
Image credit: UncommonGoods
Another place where we love to shop for sustainable and ethical yoga equipment and accessories is UncommonGoods. As a certified B Corp, it offers a range of uniquely designed products made by independent producers and develops its business model with sustainability and employee interests at the forefront. From cork yoga wheels, yoga mat storage shelves, hand-made meditation benches and soothing lavender eye pillows, it really does have everything you could ever need to advance, enhance and complement your yoga practice.