5 reasons you should ditch the cheap cotton tees and buy bamboo workout wear

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by Jessica Ashley

I know you’ve been there, standing in a shi-shi little boutique, holding a soft and lovely pair of organic yoga pants in your hand. You want them. Oh, how you want them. These pants feel so delicious that they will surely inspire you to get back to Bikram class or commit to a daily walk during your lunch hour. These pants are in a earthy color and don’t have words like “JUICY” plastered across your backside. These pants are good for the planet. These pants…cost a million dollars.

OK, not that much. But a lot. A lot more than you are used to paying. A lot more than the clearance rack at Target, where you are used to getting five pairs for this price. Maybe even more than your last grocery bill or wad of cash you handed to a babysitter for a rare date night or the fancy fleece jacket that got you through last fall.

This is the dilemma: Should you pay more for earth-friendly active wear? Is it worth it to spend more for the organic yoga pants that will get just as sweaty as the one you paid ten bucks for five years ago?

It probably won’t surprise you that Tiffany Parks, the woman who launched Wear the Earth, a company committed to “Fashion foward, earth friendly” clothing, says that you should go ahead and buy the organic yoga pants.

The great thing about Tiffany Parks is that she gets why you wouldn’t invest the extra money — or haven’t yet — because she is a mom who believes in getting a good deal and getting the most out of the clothes you do buy.

I know this because the day before I interviewed her, I cruised through the Wear the Earth site, checking out the yoga clothes and trying to decide if I could trash my own Target workout tees and spend $28 on one bamboo v-neck. There, in the sale section, was an adorable black bamboo dress. It was exactly the dress I’d been looking for to wear with flip-flops during summer days and with heels for al fresco dinners out. It was on sale for $40, the same price as a regular cotton dress I bought earlier in the week at (you guessed it) Target. When I told Tiffany that I’d ordered the dress, she squealed.

“You have to check out the other deals!” she said, seemingly excited that I hadn’t paid full price for one of her favorite items she sells.

I asked Tiffany, a mother who has converted into an eco-activist while she’s been building her retail business, about why other women should spend their money on organic exercise clothing during tight economic times. Here’s what she told me.

On workout wear made from bamboo.
Two yoga instructors in my town wear bamboo pieces from Wear the Earth. They tell me that they are the only pants they have found that they can wear all day long without going home and tearing off because they are so stinky and dirty and uncomfortable at that point.

Bamboo clothing is great because it will last a long time. It won’t break down. It is naturally wicking, washes well, and won’t fade or get all stretched out. I live in them — I’m talking wearing them every single day sometimes — and they just do not fade, pill, or get those funky stretched out knees like other yoga pants.

Lots of people spend a lot of money on really expensive yoga clothing. Still, a lot of that stuff is made up of synthetic materials and has that smell. They emit toxicity in the spandex and Lycra. AND, it is still expensive! The bamboo clothing just feels, smells, and lasts so much better.

On why we shouldn’t just stick to the bargain fitness clothing from big box stores.
I think it is so much better to invest in your yoga wardrobe and yourself. We have this mentality that everything is disposable, and it isn’t. As consumers, we often think it is better to buy a bunch of cheap stuff than really invest in something that is good for our bodies and the planet.

I cleared my closet of all the $5 t-shirts. I was buying the same t-shirts every year. I told myself that I am not going to buy and dispose like that anymore. I am just not going to do it anymore.

On why we should care about whether our exercise clothes are organic.
I have learned so much since I started this mission to get people to think bigger when they are buying clothes. There are five reasons women need to commit to buying organics:

1. You are doing something for yourself. You are making a purchase just for you. My own daughter told me, “When we go shopping, you never buy anything for yourself.” How many of us do that? I get that mom who is on the Internet at midnight buying stuff for her kids. I want her to buy something she loves for herself, too.

2. You are making a positive impact on the environment. You are making a much bigger impact on the world than you know. You have to be careful, because some products have the organic stamp but are still made in sweatshops. You have to be vigilant but it is worth it.

3. You have to remember it could be your kid, your 10-year old making these clothes in a sweatshop in Ethiopia or even here in the U.S. It happens far more than many people know. As a parent, you have to think of that.

4. You have to think about having a healthy future. Sustainable fabrics, like bamboo, are a small way to contribute to a better environment that we are leaving for our kids. There are cancer-causing carcinogens that are released into the environment from conventional cotton farming. Supporting organic farming is a way to strike back against those pollutants.

5. You will feel better about yourself. When a woman feels good in what she is wearing, when it feels good on her skin and she feels emotionally good about how she is impacting the world, then she feels good about herself.

On just going for it and buying the yoga pants already.
Get out of the sweatpants you’ve been wearing for five years! I want you to look pretty, feel good, and feel luxurious. This can be your dirty little secret! This can be your dirty little secret that makes you feel fabulous while you are working out or taking the kids to school or running to the grocery store, in your everyday life.

On three organic pieces that are essential for every active woman.
My highest recommendations are:

1. Ari yoga pants for $60. They do not dace, do not look shabby, are breathable and super flattering.
2. Taos bamboo gaucho pant for $50. These pants are like butter! Heaven on earth! The have movement and are light and still practical.
3. Bamboo cap-sleeve tee for $28. This shirt wicks away sweat and odors naturally, and is light and cool. Perfect.

As much of a skeptic as I was, I adore the bamboo dress I ordered and have a shopping cart full of the yoga clothes ready to purchase. Honestly, Tiffany was right. I feel good slipping into something that I not only feels good on my skin, but also makes me feel like I am serving some bigger, earthy purpose. Is that asking a lot of a dress or t-shirt or yoga pants? Maybe. But I am OK with that.

And I was also OK following Tiffany’s lead and ditching all the faded and stretched out cotton shirts in my closet. For now, I am sold. Me and my sustainable fabrics are breathing easier. That’s worth the few extra bucks.

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