Yoga, like most fitness activities, has a large focus on getting the right kit so you can train comfortably and effectively. But if you want to make sure your fashion choices are making a positive impact on the environment, it's time to look at bamboo kit.
According to a recent briefing from the European Parliament, in the past few decades, the amount of clothing bought per person in the EU has increased by 40%. Perhaps more shockingly, is the fact that this clothing accounts for between 2% and 10% of the environmental impact of EU consumption.
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Summarising the problem, the briefing reads, “the production of raw materials, spinning them into fibers, weaving fabrics and dyeing require enormous amounts of water and chemicals, including pesticides for growing raw materials such as cotton”.
So what can we, as yogis, do to help? Sure you’re carrying your reusable bottle with you to practice, but it might be time to stop and think about the kit you’re buying and how often you’re changing it.
How are bamboo yoga products better for the environment?
Compared to cotton or timber, which needs to be replanted yearly, once harvested, bamboo can replenish itself quickly. As the fastest growing grass on the planet, in some parts of the world, bamboo can grow about a meter each day and spread rapidly over larger areas. It thrives naturally without any pesticides or fertilizers and even absorbs greenhouse gasses as it grows
It is well documented that cotton uses extensive amounts of water in the growing process and requires chemical spraying. Bamboo, on the other hand, requires very little water to grow, is naturally pest-resistant.
What is bamboo yoga clothing made from?
In a word, bamboo. In order to turn bamboo into a product that can be made into clothing, or used for a yoga towel, the harvested bamboo has to be soaked in sodium chloride. Bamboo fiber can then be blended with cotton or Lycra and dyed for different styles. There is currently ongoing research happening around the world to try and find alternative ways to create the products, without the use of chemicals.
Bamboo as a textile is hypoallergenic, breathable and absorbent, making it a popular choice for environmentally-friendly gym wear.
How do you look after yoga kit made from bamboo?
Although you’ll need to take a look at the washing instructions, often bamboo clothing can be washed at 40 degrees, with similar colors. To help your garments last longer, often clothing brands advise you not tumble dry or dry clean bamboo clothing and to iron on a lower setting.
Best bamboo yoga pants
Asquith Flow With It Leggings
High-waisted and flattering, these leggings are a great choice for yoga or pilates. They won’t go see-through and are available in a number of different colors. Made from 60% bamboo, 30% organic cotton and 10% elastane, the fabric is chemical-free, has a four-way stretch that will survive plenty of pigeon-poses and is fade resistant.
Asquith recommends you wash the leggings at 40 inside-out, and that you don’t tumble dry or dry clean and avoid fabric conditioner.
With a 4.9 star rating online, plenty of eco-friendly yogis complimented the comfortable, form-fitting bamboo fabric. That said, some smaller yogis have noted that the leggings are rather long, so you might need to fold them up as there isn’t a shorter leg option.
BAM High Waist ⅞ Bamboo Enduro Leggings
These leggings have the buttery-soft feel of other, far more expensive, brands, without the price tag or the environmental impact. With a super-high waistband for support and flatlock seams for comfort, it’s easy to see why these are bestsellers.
The ⅞ leg length is perfect for shorter yogis and the bamboo fabric is breathable, supportive and won’t go see-through as you forward fold. Made with 64% bamboo viscose, 24% organic cotton and 12% elastane, plenty of yogis commented on the comfortable fabric for yoga, pilates, and everyday wear.
A UK-based company, BAM launched in 2006 and has been designing ethical yoga clothing ever since. In order to ensure they stand the test of time, BAM recommends that you wash the leggings at 40 and iron on a low setting.
Carrot Banana Peach High Density Bamboo Cycle Shorts
If you’re jetting off to a yoga retreat this summer, or are a hot yoga fanatic, these bamboo cycling shorts from Carrot Banana Peach are a winner. With a longer leg length that avoids any irritating bunching as you move, the bamboo fabric is highly absorbent, making these suitable for even the sweatiest of sessions. The high waistband sculpts and sucks everything in, while at the same time, isn’t tight enough to feel restrictive.
The organic company has been creating yoga clothing from plant-based products for years, working with bamboo, soybean, aloe-vera and organic cotton. When it comes to looking after the bamboo kit, Carrot Banana Peach recommend you machine wash inside-out, on a low temperature.
It’s also a good idea to avoid using fabric softener with bamboo textiles, as the chemicals can break down the organic fibers.
Best bamboo yoga tops
Asquith Conquer Cami
A soft, bamboo fitted cami, designed to stay in place in even the sweatiest vinyasa flow or reformer pilates class. The cami features a double strap design and a built-in bra, with a longer, flattering hem. Made from 60% bamboo, 30% organic cotton and 10% elastane, the cami is soft, sweat-wicking and breathable.
When it comes to caring for the top, in order to make sure it lasts longer than your savasana, wash at 40 inside-out and do not tumble dry, dry clean or add fabric softener.
On the mat, it seems the cami is best suited for smaller-chested yogis, as the built-in bra might not offer enough support for everyone. That said, there is the option to wear your normal sports bra underneath if you are worried about the level of support offered.
As a brand, Asquith started life creating eco-friendly yoga and pilates kit, but have since expanded into everyday wear, with longevity and versatility at the heart of their designs. The bamboo and organic cotton that they work with are from FSC certified, well-managed forests, so you can rest assured you’re doing your bit for the planet as you relax into child’s pose.
Thought Essential Bamboo Jersey Singlet
A brand that started life creating sustainable men’s shirts and beachwear, Thought has since grown massively, creating beautiful collections from hemp, bamboo, and reworked plastic bottles.
While they don’t have a specific workout collection, this relaxed singlet is perfect for a gentle yoga class, as well as layering under shirts or jumpers when off the mat.
Made from 67% super soft bamboo jersey, the sleeveless top is designed to fit close to the body, meaning you won’t find it slipping and bunching around your neck in downward-dog. When it comes to caring for the top, like others on the list, Thought recommends you wash on a gentle spin at 30 and iron inside-out.
Best bamboo yoga clothes for men
BAM Bamboo Yoga Shorts
BAM’s founder David Gordon is a long-time yoga enthusiast, so when it comes to designing men’s yoga kit, he knows what he’s doing. These shorts have a slim but un-restrictive cut, to make moving through sequences easy.
The shorts will flex and stretch as you move and the drawcord allows you to pull the shorts tight around your waist, so you can stay focused on your headstand, without worrying about your modesty.
Like a lot of the products on this list, the shorts are built to stand the test of time and be useful on and off the mat. With two zipped pockets for all your essentials, you could easily wear these to the gym or your weekend parkrun.
Moisture wicking and anti-odour, the shorts are lightweight and comfortable, with many yogis raving about the longer cut and slimmer fit.
Made from 68% bamboo viscose, 28% organic cotton and 4% elastane, BAM recommends you wash at 40, iron the shorts on reverse and avoid putting these in the tumble dryer.
Carrot Banana Peach Bamboo Harem Yoga Sweat Pants
If you prefer a longer leg on the mat, these Harem Yoga Sweat Pants from Carrot Banana Peach are as comfortable as yoga clothes get. Designed to be sweat wicking, resist bacteria and fight odors, the stretchable, organic bamboo and cotton blend is soft to touch as well as being tough on the job.
Design features worth mentioning include pillowed pockets, to prevent your essentials from digging in uncomfortably, zipped hems to allow you to widen or tighten the ankles and a drawcord waist, for a personal fit. Available in four different colors to suit every style of yogi, in men’s size S-XXL.
Best bamboo yoga accessories
Yogamatters Yoga-Mad Hollow Bamboo Brick
Of course, it’s not just your clothes that make a difference. If you’re thinking of investing in eco-friendly yoga accessories for your home practice, this bamboo yoga block is a good place to start.
Yoga blocks are useful for all levels of yogi when it comes to adding lift and stabilizing the body in standing postures, adding extra length to postures for flexible yogis or supporting tight hips and knees in seated asanas.
This hollow bamboo block is laminated and rounded on the corners for comfort while being lightweight enough to carry with you to the studio if you wish to.
Carrot Banana Peach Bamboo Anti-Slip Pilates Socks
If you prefer to wear socks during your yoga practice, or are looking to invest in a grippy pair for your next reformer pilates session, these anti-slip socks from Carrot Banana Peach are a good, environmentally-friendly, choice.
Available in a number of different colors, the shorter length means you won’t experience any uncomfortable bunching under your leggings. Carrot Banana Peach also has pinky socks for those who want the extra grip.
When it comes to plant-friendly yoga accessories the brand also makes a number of soybean hairbands and organic cotton yoga carriers, as well as a jute yoga mat.