Are Your Yoga Pants Bad for the Planet?

yoga clothes environment
Photo by Jobi Otso

What if our daily yoga practice is causing harm to the environment? What if those attractive and comfortable yoga pants we practically live in are killing the planet we live on? Ahimsa, one of the niyamas in Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, means do no harm to yourself or the world around you. Even yogis who don’t practice the eight limbs of yoga preach kindness, compassion, and consciousness to others and to the environment. Science supports the argument that yoga pants are in fact bad for the planet. The good news is there are plenty of alternative eco-friendly options for your yoga wardrobe.

Why synthetic fabrics are bad for the environment

Synthetic fabrics including polyester, nylon, and rayon are commonly used to make yoga pants. Many synthetic fabrics are harmful to the environment. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), polyester, the most widely used manufactured fiber, is made out of petroleum, which is not biodegradable, uses a lot of energy to manufacture, and releases harmful chemicals into the wastewater produced during the manufacturing process.

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As for nylon, it’s not much better. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), nylon is made from oil and takes a lot of energy to produce. A study conducted by the NCBI found that the harmful greenhouse gas nitrous oxide is a byproduct of nylon manufacturing. In 1991 The New York Times reported that an estimated 4.5 billion pounds of adipic acid is produced every year through manufacturing nylon, and nitrous oxide yield is at about a 1:1 ratio to nylon yield.

Rayon is another harmful material as it requires a significant amount of non-renewable resources to grow, manufacture, and produce. According to the NRDC the manufacturing of rayon requires high levels of water and energy use in addition to producing harmful amounts of pollution.

In addition to their toxic manufacturing process, many of these materials also release harmful microfibers every time they are put through the washing machine. Ecologist Mark Browne told The Guardian that around 1,900 microfibers can come off of each piece of clothing in the washing machine. These microfibers eventually make their way to the ocean and contribute to the nearly 315 pounds of plastic already in the ocean. Just another reason to check the tag before buying your next pair of yoga pants.

Alternative options to keep your practice earth-friendly

Just because your average pair of yoga pants is less-than-ideal for the environment doesn’t mean you have to give up comfortable, durable, practical, and stylish yoga attire. There are plenty of amazing companies dedicated to producing great quality yoga clothing in a way that is earth-conscious. Check out some of our favorite eco-friendly yoga brands. Wherever you choose to shop, you can follow this buying guide to ensure you are making the most eco-friendly choice possible.

Most Eco-Friendly Yoga Clothing MaterialsLeast Eco-Friendly Yoga Clothing Materials
Recycled Polyester
Organic Wool
Organic Cotton
Rayon (Viscose)
Non-Recycled Polyester
Non-Organic Wool
Non-Organic Cotton

There are pros and cons to every kind of material, but in general sticking to the above chart will help ensure your yoga wardrobe isn’t causing harm to the environment. Do you have a favorite eco-fabric we didn’t mention? Why do you think it is important to make eco-conscious decisions when buying yoga products or any products for that matter? Let us know in the comments below!

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