The Best Sustainable Workout Clothes and Activewear Brands of 2022

Embrace your fittest self by working out in comfy, earth-friendly activewear.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

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Activewear has wriggled into our wardrobes to occupy serious shelf space. However, for a long time workout wear has been made primarily from synthetic material like polyester, which isn’t biodegradable and is produced using hazardous chemicals. What’s more, with each wash, it sheds microplastic fibers that find their way into our water and soil.

Today, a number of brands are committed to making active gear with eco-consciousness at the forefront. For the shortlist, we’ve considered activewear that is comfy, ethically made, and environmentally friendly, cutting across price points and covering a wide range of low-impact materials such as organic cotton, Tencel lyocell (made from wood pulp fiber), bamboo, and more. However, it's worth noting that for stretch and fit, almost all workout apparel still contains some proportion of synthetic materials such as elastane.

So, whether you’re looking for moisture-wicking crop tops or slouchy sweatshirts, we've put together a list of the best sustainable workout clothes.

Best Overall: tentree

Putting the planet first, certified B Corporation Tentree’s (named for the plants 10 trees for every item sold) ethical, sustainable, and affordable active essentials look sharp while keeping you in shape. The togs are crafted from materials such as Tencel lyocell, recycled polyester (from discarded plastic bottles), organic cotton, and hemp.

Our testers particularly love the InMotion leggings, which feature hidden waistband pockets and are excellent at repelling pet fur and other lint.

The certified Climate Neutral company has planted over 60 million trees to date, hoping to grow over a billion by 2030. Rejuvenating natural ecosystems is high on its agenda and it supports charities One Tree Planted, Eden Projects, and Trees for the Future. What’s more, you can buy Climate+ packages to offset your lifestyle. We love that you can track the growth of your grove by registering your tree code, seeing how your woody clump is faring in a far corner of the Earth.

Editor's Picks:

InMotion High Rise Leggings ($58 at time of publication)

Tentree InMotion High Rise Leggings

InMotion Longline Active Bra ($48 at time of publication)

tentree InMotion Longline Active Bra

Best Budget: Pact

Certified organic cotton? Yes. Fair Trade factory? Yes. Affordable price? Yes.

Pact is a Treehugger editor favorite for all these reasons, and they're casual tanks, shorts, tees, and legging make for great workout wear. Our tester particularly likes the Off Duty short, which are soft enough for workouts but have just enough tailoring to still look put together enough for other weekend hangouts. It's available in six color options.

You can save even more on Pact's affordable basics by opting for discounted bundles.

Editor's Picks:

Cool-Stretch Tank ($20 at time of publication)

Pact Cool-Stretch Tank

Pact

Off Duty Short ($54 at time of publication)

Pact Off Duty Short

Pact

Best for Sweats: Outerknown

Outerknown’s stylish Sur French terry sweats are made from organic cotton and hemp. Durable and breathable, it's comfort wear to loll about in or do some heavy-duty squats. The laidback sustainable label founded by professional surfer Kelly Slater is Fair Labor Association accredited and 90% of the fibers used by the brand are organic, recycled, or regenerated.

The Hightide Sweatpants have a flattering tapered silhouette, an elastic waistband, and roomy front pockets. On the other hand, the snuggly sweatshirts come in a gaggle of calming colors. The duo is comfy yet rugged, scoring high on both counts of sloth-worthiness and sportiness.

Editor's Picks:

Sur Sweatshirt ($98 at time of publication)

Sur Sweatshirt

Outerknown

Hightide Sweatpants ($118 at time of publication)

Hightide Sweatpants

Outerknown

Best Matching Sets: Groceries Apparel

Power through punishing lunges in style with LA-based Groceries Apparel’s fashionably designed mix-and-match sustainable workout wear. It’s manufactured in a factory in L.A. that minimizes waste and carbon emissions. The collection is made from shape-sculpting materials including recycled plastic bottles, hemp, eucalyptus, and recycled cotton.

We love that since inception, the togs have been colored with eco-friendly dyes derived from edibles and flowers. This includes luscious pomegranates, crunchy carrot tops, delicate onion skins, dark roots, and the bark of trees, and even real indigo. Most of the garments are designed for women, but there's also a small collection of unisex and toddler items.

Editor's Picks:

Fitted Crop Top ($44 at time of publication)

Fitted Crop Top

Groceries

Kazuko Short ($48 at time of publication)

Kazuko Short

Groceries

Best for Crop Tops: Girlfriend Collective

We love sustainable label Girlfriend Collective’s easy-breezy Gia crop tees. They come in nine gorgeous shades such as Thistle, Fern, Oyster, and Pepper, colored using eco-friendly dyes. This drapey, squooshy top is made from Cupro, a regenerated cellulose fabric made from cotton waste material mixed with organic cotton. Biodegradable, it’s static and cling-free, ensuring a fuss-free workout.

Girlfriend's clothes are cut-and-sewn in an SA8000 certified facility in Vietnam and packed in recycled and recyclable packaging. Also check out the capsule menswear collection, upcycling program ReGirlfriend, and innovative Microfiber Filter that catches errant microplastic fibers before they make it to local waterways.

Editor's Picks

Cupro Crop Tee ($22.40 at time of publication)

Cupro Crop Tee

Girlfriend Collective

Tommy Cropped Bra ($42 at time of publication)

Tommy Cropped Bra

Girlfriend Collective

Best Shorts: Pangaia

Wrap your derrière in sexy shorts by Pangaia (a riff on all-inclusive Mother Earth) that use innovative tech and bio-engineered fruit and plant-based materials to create breathable, lightweight half pants (available in long or short styles) in gorgeous solid shades.

The PLNTFIBER drapey shorts are fashioned from ethically sourced bamboo, eucalyptus, organic seaweed, and wild Himalayan nettle, treated with PPRMINT oil (a durable peppermint oil antimicrobial finish) to keep you minty fresh and fragrant down under. The FRUTFIBER garments are made from the waste of pineapple and banana blended with bamboo and are also slathered with a peppermint oil finish. Packed in compostable packaging, these delicious shorts are great for low-key exercise days.

Editor's Pick:

365 Shorts - Neutral Tones  ($75 at time of publication)

Pangaia 365 Shorts

Pangaia

Best for Leggings: Wolven

Limber up in Wolven Threads’ lovely leggings that come in funky colors and patterns. Each legging is created from OEKO-TEX certified fabric from post-consumer recycled plastic (each legging is made from 27 plastic bottles) that’s blended with spandex. In addition to plenty of solid shades, the Wolven also sells tops, shorts, and leggings in a wide range of groovy prints.

Our testers particularly love the Crossover Pocket Leggings, and a with its comfortable yet stylish wrapped waistband and sizable side pockets. They're velvety soft and durable.

The brand strives to make sustainability sexy and succeeds. Super soft, stretchy, quick-drying, and odor-free, with every legging you buy, Wolven plucks a pound of plastic waste from the oceans. What’s more, each purchase comes wrapped in a biodegradable paper box or 100% recycled poly mailer. Wolven is Climate Neutral, GRS-certified, and a member of 1% For The Planet.

Editor's Picks:

Moonlight Mandala Legging ($88 at time of publication) 

Wolven Moonlight Mandala Legging

Wolven

Turmeric Crossover Pocket Legging ($88 at time of publication)

Wolven Turmeric Crossover Pocket Legging

Wolven

Best for Basics: Organic Basics

With something for everyone, Copenhagen-based certified B Corporation Organic Basics combines performance with sustainability in its comfy activewear. Working with natural, recycled, and renewable textiles, you can bounce into the perfect burpee wearing this breathable, stretchy, moisture-wicking gear.

The menswear and womenswear are made from Earth-friendly fabrics including Global Recycle Standard-certified lightweight Italian recycled nylon (made from pre-consumer textile waste), Tencel lyocell, organic cotton, and recycled wool. Upping the ante, treatments such as SilverTech (where polymer fiber is coated in real silver and blended with cotton) and Polygiene (a Bluesign approved permanent fabric treatment) keeps the apparel temperature-regulated and fresh-smelling.

Contributing to charity 1% For The Planet, Organic Basics discloses the impact index of each item. You can dive deeper into its ethical business practices, activism, and efforts towards building supply chain transparency in a detailed report.

Editor's Picks:

Mid-Weight Sweat-Hood ($60 at time of publication)

Organic Basics Mid-Weight Sweat-Hood

Active Yoga Shorts ($75 at time of publication)

Organic Basics Active Yoga Shorts

Best Splurge: Adidas by Stella McCartney

Breaking into a sweat has never looked so good than in Adidas by Stella McCartney’s latest drop, the bling-y FW 21 Stellashine. The high-wattage collection elevates activewear with oodles of glamour, shimmer, and texture, without compromising on action.

The crops, tights, jackets, and shoes feature tech developed by Adidas. These technical materials include moisture-wicking "Aeroready" fabric and performance-enhancing "Boost" footwear cushioning. Designed using organic cotton and recycled materials, including recycled polyester, the Stellashine collection is solid enough for the track and sleek enough for the bar.

Editor's Picks:

Truepace Woven Training Jacket ($232 at time of publication)

Truepace Woven Training Jacket

Adidas by Stella McCartney

Solarglide Running Shoes ($176 at time of publication)

Solarglide Running Shoes

Adidas

Final Verdict

Tentree’s ethical, eco-friendly and affordable activewear is our top pick for sustainable workout clothing. For leggings, we also love the details on Woven's Crossover Pocket Legging.

What to Look for in Sustainable Workout Clothes

Check the Materials

Conventional activewear is made from synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, and spandex and often uses dyes that can harm the environment. For more eco-friendly clothes, you can choose among many alternative fabrics, such as organic cotton, econyl, hemp, Tencel, bamboo, and material made from recycled plastic (though for stretchiness there will be synthetic materials blended in).

Trusted Certifications

Pick ethically made environmentally conscious and skin safe activewear. Check for globally recognized third-party certifications such as OEKO-TEX, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Fair Trade, and B-Corporation.

Comfort, Use, and Fit

Ask relevant questions to buy gear that you’ll actually wear, rather than sexy but impractical sportswear that’s relegated to the far end of your closet: Would loose-fitting (or tight-fitting clothes) make you feel more comfortable? Would those cutesy shorts chafe? Would you be exercising indoors or outdoors? Would compression gear work better for you? Do you need gear with moisture-wicking properties? Are you working out in summer or winter?

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How can I make my workout clothes last longer?

    Keep your activewear clean and stretch its life (not the elastic) with these handy tips. After a sweat sesh, you’d be tempted to dump the damp gym wear in the wash. But air-drying them first makes them easier to clean. If they’re a tad stinky and awash with stains, soak them in a dash of vinegar mixed with water before washing. Turn the clothes inside out before the cold spin (to protect the stretch and prevent sagging). Nix the dryer and let them air.

  • How can I avoid contributing to micro-plastic pollution?

    Your comfy synthetic activewear has a downside to it: Tiny plastic microfibers that shed each time the gear is worn and washed. These tiny particles that shed off from clothes and other stuff are responsible for a whopping 35% of the plastic polluting the oceans, according to Ocean Clean Wash. Here’s how you can minimize your impact:

    • Optimize how you wash: Fill up your washing machine to reduce friction between clothes. Opt for a natural liquid detergent and wash at cool temperatures on shorter cycles.
    • Invest in a microfiber filter: These bulky workhorses attach to a washing machine and imprison fibers before they can wriggle their way into the water stream and ocean. The filters need to be cleaned and the waste disposed of carefully after every few washes. Check out Girlfriend Collective’s The Microfiber Filter that’s affordable and accessible, or Filtrol’s sturdy filter which claims to have a catch rate of 89%.
    • Minimize synthetic fabrics when possible: It's not always the most practical or comfortable to work out in cotton clothes, but when you can swing it, know that opting for garments made from natural fibers is the best way to avoid adding to the microfiber problem from laundry.


Why Trust Treehugger?

To make this list, we researched brands that are committed to sustainable principles without compromising on performance. We looked for clothes made with recycled materials, natural fibers, organic cotton, and trustworthy certifications. We also test top products and share our first-hand experiences wherever possible.

Author Neeti Mehra writes about luxury and is committed to sustainable, slow, and mindful living. Practicing a sustainable lifestyle, she’s building a capsule wardrobe for herself that can be mixed and matched across occasions and seasons.

View Article Sources
  1. Dyehouse Selection: A major opportunity to reduce environmental impact.” NRDC.org.

  2. United States Department of Agriculture. Organic textiles. 2011.