Yoga Pants Are Surprisingly Harmful

Whether you practice yoga or not, you are probably well aware that yoga as an entity strives to reflect the values of peace, mindfulness and inner balance. In fact, one of the 5 fundamental pillars of yoga philosophy (one of the yamas) is the concept of ahimsa or ‘non-harming of self and others’. That means one’s practice of yoga should do nothing to harm themselves; should do nothing to harm others; should do nothing to harm the environment.

By its very nature, that principle should apply to the entirety of one’s yoga practice, including the gear. But bad news—your favorite yoga pants are probably not very yogic.

One would think that with high price tags and implicative style names like Balance, Align and Inspire, yoga-focused lifestyle brands like Lululemon would fall right in line with yoga philosophy. But those amazing, wallet-narrowing yoga pants are made mostly from polyester. Polyester is a petroleum-based product. To put it bluntly, your expensive pants are made from plastic. Especially with the current popularity of trends like athleisure, those exclusive leggings that we’re all lusting after certainly don’t seem to be very ‘yoga.’

Yes, plastic isn’t biodegradable, but the pollution issue starts long before you throw your pants into the landfill. Every time polyester fabrics are machine washed, they shed a small but significant amount of plastic microfibers. Washing machines are currently incapable of filtering these out, so they make their way into our water supply and oceans. This happens every single time you wash a polyester item.

Take a moment and look into your fitness drawer. There’s probably a lot of polyester in there, right? And it’s not like you can avoid washing a pair of stinky, sweaty yoga pants. So the microplastic pollution is steadily building up.

Fish are already consuming vast amounts of microplastics, meaning you are probably eating a garnish of plastic flakes with every fish you enjoy. Ew. They’re also steadily killing off marine life. Yeah, not so healthy.

Looking for something a little closer to home? There are probably microplastics in your tap water. It turns out that 83 percent of US tap water samples contain microplastic fibers. But it’s not just the polyester that is problematic; it’s the sheer quantity of polyester. The rise of polyester use in clothing is worrisome mainly because of our consumer culture. We are buying more clothes than ever, most of which are entirely unnecessary. Rather than buying two pairs of yoga pants, many of us have half a dozen. That’s 3 times the pollutive value for just one consumer! Since polyester is non-biodegradable, this surplus of clothing will build up in landfills and our oceans as devastating plastic pollution. With our current global manufacturing and consumer processes, it seems like we are in deep trouble.

The only (yogic) solution is to buy less clothing overall and to buy eco-conscious products when you do. Here are some companies who make yoga pants that are less harmful to you and the planet:

prAna

Always committed to sustainability, prAna offers organic hemp-cotton blend pants as an alternative to pollutive plastics.

Patagonia 

While Patagonia usually polyester in almost all of its yoga pants, they do sell a bag known as the GUPPYFRIEND. If you machine wash polyester clothing in the GUPPYFRIEND, like fleece jackets and yoga pants, this bag significantly reduces the amount of microplastic shedding that can potentially get into our waterways. They also sell it at cost, which means they aren’t making a profit from this product.

Lolë

Lolë provides a handful of eco-conscious leggings that avoid polyester and take advantage of recycled or more sustainable fibers without sacrificing quality.

Satva

Satva Living focuses solely on an eco-friendly lifestyle. Either more sustainable fibers derived from organic cotton or tree pulp are used in their pants, or the polyester is recycled. That means your yoga pants may have once been a water bottle! Overall, their goods are manufactured with a lot of consciousness.

When it comes down to it, the best actions you can take are increasing self-education/consumer awareness and reducing your shopping habits. Only buy what you actually need. And if you do practice yoga, make sure the root values behind your practice continue even after you step off the mat.

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72 comments

Maria R
Maria Ryesterday

thank you

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Jetana A
Jetana A3 days ago

Go natural! We made our own yoga pants, simple loose legged drawstrings, from unbleached cotton. Great hippie wear, apparently needing a "retro" return.

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Muff-Anne Y

Thanks.

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Leo C
Leo C4 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Marija M
Marija M5 days ago

tks for sharing

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Peggy B
Peggy B5 days ago

TYFS

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I5 days ago

This is surprising!!! Good lesson learned! Thanks for sharing!

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Kimberly Wallace
Kimberly W5 days ago

TY

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Claudia S
Claudia S5 days ago

Thank you

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John W
John W5 days ago

I think they look awful anyway :-(

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