When we’re looking for a “clean sports bra” rarely do we mean one that is eco-friendly. Sustainability may be at the bottom of your priority list when it comes to activewear, but Cora Hilts, co-founder of green retailer, Rêve En Vert and Darling Magazine contributor, is breaking down what to look for in sustainable activewear and why it matters…

First, the bad news.

It turns out that activewear is one of our closet’s biggest sources of harsh toxins and chemicals. Public health advocates, including Greenpeace and European regulatory bodies that oversee chemical safety, are becoming increasingly concerned by evidence that shows a possible link between sportswear and health issues such as cancer, obesity and developmental disabilities.

While toxic chemicals are a longstanding issue in various types of apparel, sportswear presents a particular problem because sweat and friction can prompt more rapid absorption of toxins into the body (not to mention what goes into a product to make it sweat or stain-resistant to begin with). The list of nasties hiding in our favorite workout gear is mind-boggling: phthalates, PFCs, nanoparticle silver, and dimethylformamide, to name just a few. The high chemical concentration paired with the conditions in which they come into contact with our skin presents unknown consequences for our health.

Despite such chemicals being linked to these diseases and health issues, brands are hastily reassuring us that their products carry no real risk. But can they be so certain when “athleisure” wear has become an acceptable everyday uniform?

Deciding to pull on those lush yoga leggings, for example, rather than a pair of stiff jeans is becoming the norm. This super-comfortable trend undoubtedly has it perks, but with increasing our daily exposure to activewear, perhaps it is time to start considering what the long-term effects could really be. Not just for us, but also for the planet. Both the production and end-of-life processes for activewear are harsh on the environment; commonly used materials such as polyester, rayon and nylon can take decades to break down. As they do, the chemicals they’re made from make their way into the land. The fundamental impact on eco-systems remains unknown.

Now, some good news.

Information overload, I know. But no need to panic. The good news is that there is a host of brilliant brands that have made it their mission to make activewear without toxins. From Teeki’s playful leggings crafted from recycled water bottles, to elegant graphics printed with non-toxic dyes from yoga brand Vyayama, there are pieces to suit every personality and budget.

Rêve En Vert is an online retailer that sells sustainable style pieces and addresses the discrepancies between fashion and ethics. As co-founder, I’ve learned an incredible amount about the issues behind the fashion industry in just the past three years. Rêve En Vert wants to share these stories with you so consumers can start the subtle change in becoming more conscious shoppers.

Activewear, in particular, is something I feel strongly about as a devoted yogi. It just didn’t made sense to be doing something I thought of as connecting me to people and the planet while wearing clothing so at odds with both of those things.

5 Sustainable Activewear Pieces We Love

Teeki Solid Black Mermaid Tank | Because we always need more black in our workout wardrobe. This crop top is just perfect. CHECK OUT

Teeki Jimi Hot Pant | The edgy cuts on down the sides of these leggings are perfect for an intense practice (or intense participant). CHECK OUT

Teeki I’m the Deputy Hot Pant | Flexible, flattering and eco — obviously — these leggings are playful without trying too hard. CHECK OUT

Teeki Starbird Mermaid Tank | Ditch the bra and toss this top on instead. We love the cozy fit and fun colors and flattering vertical pinstripes. CHECK OUT

Teeki White Snake Opal Hot Pants | Snug yet breathable; colorful yet chill. We love these leggings for the perfect balance of functionality and fashionable flair. CHECK OUT

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