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Did you know that most workout gear is made out of synthetic materials that sheds in the wash releasing small particles of plastic into the water system and eventually into our rivers and oceans? These are called microplastics or microfibers that have a diameter smaller than a human hair. Sadly, these are everywhere and have been found in bottled water.
With the rise of activewear fast fashion, we will most likely see an increase in these over the next few years. For me, even though I continue to transition to a more zero waste, sustainable closet with more natural fibers, I still have a lot of clothes that are made of synthetic materials like polyester. I'm not about to throw them all out, but I am doing a few things to reduce the amount that sheds.
To combat this, I wash my clothes every few wears. To reduce stink, I hang my clothing inside out and let it air dry. This is especially true for activewear that gets a lot of sweat on them. (Sorry, I'm not going to recommend to stop exercising.) Bacteria love skin cells, wet and dark environment which leads to stink. Instead of throwing your clothes in a gym bag or letting them languish on the floor or chair, give them some air. You will be surprised at how well they keep before you wash them. Before running the wash, I normally add a cup of vinegar to remove any stinkiness which will also reduce having to run the wash a few times.
I've purchased a few of my workout clothes secondhand from places like ThredUp or eBay or a local thrift store. It's not as gross as it sounds. A lot of the stuff you will find secondhand are mostly brand new. To be honest, most of us do not wear our clothes enough to warrant a lot of wear and tear and truthfully most of our activewear ends up being loungewear anways. Alternatively, you can purchase a bag called GuppyFriend which catches micro fiber waste from entering rivers and oceans. Lastly, consider buying recycled activewear to reduce the amount of virgin materials needed to make synthetic materials. Check out Girlfriend Collective or Nube9 for alternatives or move towards more natural fibers like wool or cotton from Pact Apparel or check out a new line of fabric that uses a bit of silver as an antibacterial agent. I just saw Organic Basics introduce this recently. I've been following their CEO on Instagram wearing the same shirt for 5 days. Hmm...a great way to test the product.