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[caption id="attachment_1219" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Coloured wool at Fountains Abbey's Coloured wool at Fountains Abbey's barn[/caption]

Material Matters


Let's start this off by saying we are all doing our best. If you're shopping on Geartrade or thinking critically about your consumption, it's safe to assume you've possibly thought about the way your fabric choices impact the planet.

Sometimes shopping for new things is unavoidable. Maybe we really do need the item sooner rather than later and can't wait around, hoping we find it used. So, when that day inevitably comes, let's talk about some details that can help ensure you're still doing your best for the planet.

This (perhaps debatable) critical component of your purchase is the fabric used in making the item. We'll be speaking about this as it relates to soft goods, but, albeit a little harder, looking at materials used in your hard goods is also a great idea when possible




The Why 


When it comes to new soft goods, choosing the right material makes a difference. While they may come at a higher price point, fabrics like wool, organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo are superior for your body and the planet.

While it is great that companies are starting to make more activewear out of materials like recycled plastics, it is important to note that those items are still just that...plastic. So, if you wouldn't drink out of a plastic water bottle anymore for health/environmental reasons, why are we still putting it on our bodies?

Food for thought.




The Deep Dive


Let's take a closer look at the natural materials listed above as there are some things to note about each one.

Wool


Everyone and their mom is talking about wool and for good reason. Wool is a natural material that is temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking. Merino wool in particular is a smoother, finer wool that reduces a lot of the traditional itch that comes with wool clothing. If you're wondering how, just think about how wool interacts with the animals it comes from. In the same way it aids sheep and alpacas in staying comfortable, it'll aid us.

Merino wool will come at a higher price tag for sure, and while it may be a deal breaker, this is a fabric that can be repurposed and truly recycled after use. It is also worth noting that many farmers who produce merino wool actually take a loss in the process because the cost to ship the wool is far higher than the payout. keeping an eye out for sustainable relationships between farmers and producers is one step further you can take to make sure you're doing the best you can on all fronts.

Organic Cotton


You've probably heard the term "cotton is rotten" when it comes to any type of clothing you wear for sweaty activities. And while cotton does hold on to moisture more than nylon or spandex, it also breathes far more.

As a long-time wearer of cotton for anything from climbing to hiking to running ultramarathons, I can vouch that it truly is not that big of a deal. Sure the sweat might linger a little longer, but when it's warm outside and a gust of wind comes your way, you've got a built-in cooling agent. Organic cotton does you one better by ensuring less pesticide contamination and a greater chance of better farming practices.

Hemp


Another earth-friendly option is hemp! Hemp is breathable, odor-resistant, and naturally protects from UV rays! Hemp does wrinkle easily, but when you're outside having fun, that's usually the last thing you'll be worried about. Plus, hemp uses far less water in the growing process than cotton!

Bamboo


Finally bamboo. Yes, what pandas eat. Bamboo, similar to wool, is temperature-regulating, antimicrobial, and soft. If you happen to be allergic to lanolin (oil found on/in wool fibers), bamboo (and hemp) is a wonderful alternative! Bamboo fibers, when wove, actually form a very flat weave with microscopic holes for ventilation. Nature is pretty cool, and so is choosing bamboo!




Needless to say, there's really no reason we need harmful, synthetic fibers in our wardrobes. Natural fibers can do just as good, if not better while still protecting our bodies and planet. No matter the season, making a mindful choice about where we put our dollars makes things better for us all in the long run.

Best of all, you can find plenty of awesome soft goods on Geartrade made from these fibers! Keep an eye out for the descriptions/titles to find material content.

We hope this opened up your mind just a little bit more to the possibilities at hand. You're never stuck, you just need to keep looking.

Until next time, y'all!
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