What To Wear To the Gym: The Activewear Industry Needs To Shift To a Sustainable Approach

What To Wear To the Gym: The Activewear Industry Needs To Shift To a Sustainable Approach

Having the right activewear can make or break your workout. Clothes that won’t stretch and move with your body can seriously hinder your CrossFit WOD. An athletic tee that absorbs moisture rather than wicks it away can cause discomfort and distraction during your distance run. 

Shorts that feel heavy and don’t breathe can turn a breezy round of high-intensity interval training into a clammy workout. Figuring out what to wear to the gym isn’t always easy, especially if you’re not sure where to find eco-conscious fabrics that work for you. 

Which apparel is most effective for staying dry, comfortable, and laser-focused on the workout at hand while positively impacting the environment?

Read on to find out. 

What Does Activewear Look Like Today?

The fashion industry has sustained notable changes in recent decades. The shift in online presence as opposed to brick and mortar stores, the accessibility of textiles, and the economy have impacted fashion and made it fast. 

Fast fashion refers to the revolutionized advances in fashion that may sound positive but actually have a negative impact on the earth and those in it. In order to grasp how important sustainable activewear is, we must first cover the negative impacts fast fashion has on the world.

Let’s take a closer look at fast fashion and what characterizes this industrial movement. 

Ever-Changing Trends

Fast fashion is largely characterized by ever-changing trends. Because fast fashion moves quickly with production and sale, companies can make more money off ever-changing trends as opposed to timeless ones. 

As its name suggests, fast fashion has speed and time at the heart of the business model. Businesses that produce and push fast fashion are always pushing what’s new. While it seems like these pieces are a steal due to their low prices, they won’t last long. These companies bank on customers replacing them and coming back for more. 

Fast fashion is influenced heavily by social media. Influencers show off the clothing they purchase to market trends that aren’t sustainable. This drives others to buy the same clothing in excess. 

The key distinction here between fast fashion and sustainable fashion is that fast fashion companies aren’t simply responding to a pre-existing consumer demand. They’re creating it. 

Fast Production

Because trends are ever-changing, companies don’t have time to work slowly. Instead, they hold the expectation of fast production, sale, and delivery. When social media pushes the current trends, viewers want immediate satisfaction and gratification. Fast fashion companies are more than happy to provide this. 

While fast production may seem harmless, it tends to result in unethical labor, poor treatment of employees, and poor working conditions. Some fast-fashion companies rely on child labor and other major human rights violations. 

Fast Use and Excess Waste

The fast fashion industry is filling up landfills much faster than it’s filling up closets. When trends pass, and the next one is pushed onto consumers, people tend to get rid of their clothes. This excess waste results in a serious impact on the environment. 

It’s estimated that people wear a piece of clothing around seven times before throwing it away. In fact, the EPA reports that over 16 million tons of textile waste are dumped in landfills each year. 


When it comes to fast fashion, brands don’t care about the materials or methods they use. Instead, they look for the cheapest materials and methods. This results in low-quality fabric materials containing plastic and other harmful chemicals. 

This is another aspect of fast fashion that negatively impacts the environment. Plastic not only emits chemicals into the environment, but when out-of-trend clothing is thrown away, plastic sits in these landfills. Even if we burn or reduce textile waste, we’re emitting plastic into the earth. 

This is also harmful to the world’s water supply as textiles have treatment, dyes, and synthetic chemicals that can pollute water sources across the globe.  

Why Sustainable Activewear Matters

Fast fashion is characterized by overconsumption, carelessness, and cutting corners. While the industry profits billions each year, the consequences have a serious weight. How can we change the industry? What can we do to help reverse the effects of fast fashion?

The key is sustainable activewear. 

Supports People Across the Globe

Fast fashion is known for taking advantage of underprivileged workers across the globe. Behind every piece of cheap clothing is a worker earning little to nothing while companies are making billions. From providing poor working conditions and poverty wages, it’s time for a massive change. 

Sustainable activewear sources, manufactures, designs, and manufactures activewear in a way that positively impacts the environment and the world. Sustainable fashion provides real people with real jobs.

Consumers play a large role in the sustainability of fashion. 

Supports the Planet

Fast fashion is also harmful to the planet as it uses more water, chemicals, additives, contaminants, plastics, and unsafe working conditions. In fact, textiles from the fast fashion industry account for much of the world’s water pollution. 

The fast fashion industry has a large imprint on the planet, and unfortunately, it’s not a good one. How can we reverse this? How can we use clothing to support the planet?

Here’s how we are taking action:

Practical Ways You Can Shop Sustainably

Shop sustainably can be a simple and practical way to support the environment and fair business practices. 

Let’s discuss the eco-conscious mindset:

Quality Over Quantity

First, aim for quality over quantity. Fast fashion pushes the idea that you need every type of clothing available. Sustainable activewear lasts a long time and offers high-quality materials for comfortable movement. Incorporating minimalism into your life also starts with this idea, so for those interested in a simpler life, this may come more easily to them. 

Research Matters

Another way to shop sustainably is to do your research. Fast fashion companies aren’t going to advertise their shortcomings. It's up to you to research sustainable brands, resources, and materials. Look for brands that use recycled materials, like recycled cotton, and support long-lasting fabric technology. 

Shop Conscious

One of the reasons fast fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry is that conscious shopping has shifted into impulse buying. Consumers have become eager to purchase items they see and like right away, rather than thinking through their decisions and the corresponding impact on the planet. 

If we want to be a vessel for change, we need to start shopping consciously. By staying mindful of where we shop, what we buy, we can resist impulses that may support fast fashion. Each purchase should have a purpose in our closets. By shopping with a conscious mindset, we can support eco-conscious endeavors, too.  

How Can We Shift the Activewear Industry To Become Eco-Conscious?

The impact of fast fashion is ever-growing. With more and more stores using nonrenewable resources, fast practices, and expecting to push new trends out each year, it can feel intimidating to stand up to fast fashion. 

How can we shift the activewear industry to become more eco-conscious? It starts with us. By learning to shop sustainably and encouraging change where we can, we can help shift the world from fast fashion to sustainable fashion faster than our personal best on the track.   

Use Recycled Materials 

Recycling is an excellent practice to partake, but did you know recycling is great to incorporate into sustainable fashion? Recycling materials gives them a second life, a new cycle. 

You can take an old shirt and give it a new purpose. Plus, by recycling materials, you help eliminate waste from landfills and help reduce the amount of water and chemicals needed to process the clothing. 

Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is one of the best solutions to the harmful effects of fast fashion and textiles. In order to be considered organic, cotton must be grown free of pesticides, herbicides, and genetic modifications. Organic cotton is also completely free of any additives and synthetics. 

How does organic cotton help? The main reason is that organic cotton provides a solution to the nonrenewable resources and methods of fast fashion. Fast fashion uses a significant amount of resources and produces more waste in the process of making one article of clothing. 

On the other hand, organic cotton is renewable and involves sustainable manufacturing and processing methods. This makes organic cotton an excellent material to consider when shopping eco-consciously.

Take a look at our eco-friendly Surge Tee made with recycled fibers and organic cotton. Available in a Long Sleeve option as well, this tee is the perfect tee for a classic athletic fit. 

Sustainability Starts Here

True sustainability will occur when the entire fashion industry only uses sustainable, renewable, clean, and eco-conscious materials. That day may feel far away, but Olivers supports sustainable fashion step by step.

By understanding the need for sustainability in fashion and incorporating mindfulness in our shopping practices, we can help make a change. 


What is fast fashion and why is it a problem? | Ethical Consumer 

What Really Happens to Unwanted Clothes? | Green America 

The Sustainability of Fashion: what role can consumers play? | HEJSupport 

Textiles: Material-Specific Data | US EPA

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