Your guide to ethical and sustainable leggings

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green leggings leggings
credit: Satva, Om Shanti, PACT

Leggings are a wardrobe staple for many, whether we’re keeping our legs warm in the winter, pairing them with tunics when it’s warmer, or staying comfy at yoga all year long.

For many eco-conscious people, the best way to shop for clothes is to head to the second hand store. But second-hand leggings, like socks and underwear, may make some squeamish. Even if you’re brave, finding a basic pair in the right size can be a challenge. So, buying new from ethical and eco-minded companies is often the best bet, and happily there are now a number of good options to choose from.

I am well aware that you can go to any number of shops and purchase tights and leggings for less than $10.00. However, before anyone starts ranting about the high prices of the items recommended here, I’d like to present two arguments for spending more.

1. Cost per wear

Leggings can be flimsy. If you can only wear your $5.00 leggings twice before they stretch out or tear, you’ll actually spend more money than if you wear your $50.00 leggings more than 20 times. In other words, spending more up front usually gets you a better cost per wear, and you cut down on the tons of fabric that ends up in landfills every year. Also, if you hand-wash your leggings and keep them out of the dryer, you can further extend the life of any elastic fabric.

2. Cost of labor

Leggings are not magically extruded out of a machine fully formed. Actual humans sit at sewing machines and finish them. Those humans deserve a decent living. Some of the options listed here are made in the U.S., where companies must comply with our minimum wage requirements, while others are members of Fair Trade associations. These represent two approaches to avoiding the most exploitative labor practices.

So, check out picks for leggings that are both sustainably and ethically made.

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