The impact we’re having on the planet is increasingly coming into sharper focus, and more and more of us are taking a long, hard look at the way we consume and dispose of products.
Cycling apparel brands, like in many other sports, are beginning to assess the ways they manufacture and deliver their products, and as a result some are making big changes.
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The clothing industry is renowned for its huge contribution to global carbon emissions, thanks largely to the numbers of garments created and the small amount recycled. Garments shedding microfibres in the washing machine is also an increasing problem, as these microfibres enter the water cycle and, in turn, the food chain, from the tiniest plankton to humans at the top of the chain.
From using recycled materials to ensuring there’s no plastic in the packaging or offering free repairs for the life of the garment, there are now increasing numbers of ways to buy cycling clothing without leaving a huge footprint on the planet.
A number of brands are introducing revolutionary methods in manufacturing and distribution of their cycle clothing; here are some of the industry leaders paving the way forward for eco-friendly clothing.
Its manufacturers use 100% renewable energy and are based in either the UK or Europe to reduce travel miles. The fabrics chosen for the clothing, such as the Grand Tour Jersey, are made from recycled synthetic fabrics, specifically recycled polyester from plastic bottles, and recycled nylon from fishing nets and carpets. The website even shows you what each item saves in terms of days of drinking water saved, and how many bottles were used to make it.
The garments come in largely home-compostable packaging, and they are introducing a scheme whereby you can send any clothing back to them at the end of its life and it will be recycled into new clothing.
Launched by former Slovakian pros and twins Martin and Peter Velits, Isadore produces an Alternative Choice line of clothing that features jerseys, bib shorts, jackets and baselayers all made from recyclable materials.
The jerseys are created using plastic bottles (30 go into each), and the bib shorts’ chamois is made from recycled materials, while the rest of the shorts made from recycled Italian Lycra. All clothing is made locally to where the Veltis brothers are based in Slovakia to reduce air miles.
The packaging is kept minimal to avoid impacting the planet, with no hang tags, and they also offer a ‘wear-and-tear crash repair service’ for all their products – tear a hole in your shorts and they will repair it for free.
Dutch brand Futurum was launched in 2012 by cyclist Harmen van der Muelen with the aim of creating a sustainable clothing company that wouldn’t break your wallet.
To achieve this, Futurum focuses on schemes such as using no plastic in its packaging – the kit is delivered to your door in cardboard tubes, and has saved more than 100,000 pieces of plastic being produced since it introduced the scheme in 2016. The kit is also manufactured close to its Dutch home in Italy and Portugal, with parts for the sunglasses made only 35km from the HQ.
Merino wool is key to many Futurum products, particularly the baselayers. Ising 98% merino means the natural wool breaks down naturally at the end of the product’s life.
Another company using recycled plastic bottles in its jerseys, French brand Matchy, based in Annecy, proudly makes its cycling shirts from 100% recycled materials and uses no plastic in its packaging.
Its entire jersey range, which mixes French and British designs and stylish patterns, is made from 100% recycled materials – with the Repreve jersey is made from just six bottles – gilets of 65% recycled and in 2021 it will launch a fully recycled bib short.
The activewear brand describes itself as an ‘ethical’ company, thus it supports environmental causes, keeps environmental damage to a minimum and uses organic and recycled materials.
Its EcoTech line of clothing is manufactured using biodegradable polyamide yarn, with fabric made from coffee grounds. The use of coffee grounds in clothing is on the rise – taking a waste product destined for landfill and recycling it into a technical fabric is without a doubt a way forward for sports clothing. The fabric is sweat-wicking, prevents odour and dries 200 times quicker than cotton.
In 2021, they will be launching a full recycled cycle collection using a mix of recycled bottles and coffee grounds.
The Welsh outdoors brand has always prided itself on forward-thinking when it comes to the environment. When it was founded in the mid-90s, the company’s aim was to create sustainable activewear using organic or recycled products where possible.
Since then it has ticked off milestone after milestone, such as becoming 100% PET/PFC free in 2016 and paving the way with merino wool products back in 2001.
It also donates profits to charity – last Black Friday it donated 1% of sales to Size Of Wales, a charity that plants trees in Africa, and produced T-shirts to help raise money for specific campaigns, such as Surfers Against Sewage. It minimises its carbon footprint where it can by using ships rather than planes to transport materials and shipping garments in recyclable plastic
The range of merino baselayers is worth a look for gravel and MTB riders: made from 100% merino wool, the completely natural fibre will break down naturally at the end of the garment’s life.
How eco-conscious can a pair of sunglasses be? Well, British brand SunDog is doing its utmost to show that they can be super-sustainable. It carbon-offsets the shipping, uses recycled cardboard in the packaging and the glasses’ microfibre pouches are made from recycled plastic.
But most impressively, with these sunglasses you only need to buy them once. The company offers a lifetime guarantee, so if you break them, SunGod will repair them for free throughout the lifetime of the product.
Famously leading the field in eco-conscious campaigns by tearing up the way it produced and packaged clothing, Yvon Chouinard’s brand is constantly innovating and creating environmental awareness. Of its many world firsts, its latest involves imposing a 1% ‘Earth Tax’ on itself, which it donates to environmental non-profits.
Its Worn Wear service repairs and fixes any Patagonia gear throughout its lifetime, cutting down on consumerism and customers buying new kit. There is also the option to recycle any Patagonia product when it reaches the end of its life.
The products are made from a range of recycled materials, including recycled nylon to cut down on the use of petroleum and recycled polyester made from plastic, and it has a wide range of gravel or MTB clothing.
Yanto Barker’s clothing brand recently stepped into the recycled clothing market with its Recycled Pro Air Jersey and Recycled Pro Bib Shorts. Both items are made from recycled sea plastic while retaining the company’s premium levels of comfort and minimal heat retention.
The recycled nylon undergoes a mechanical process that reduces CO2 emissions by 53%, and its a direction the brand has signalled they will be concentrating more on in in the future.