Spandex may be great for showing off your yoga-sculpted glutes, but have you ever wondered where that fabric comes from, and what happens to it once your favorite pair of yoga pants is too worn out to wear?
Most yoga pants are made with a blend of fabrics that usually mix cotton with some percentage of polyester and Spandex, creating a lightweight, durable fabric that stretches easily with your movements. But Spandex and polyester both come from sources that aren’t exactly eco-friendly.
What Goes Into Your Yoga Pants
Spandex is made from a substance called long-chain synthetic polymer—a fancy name for manmade, fiber-forming plastic. Much like gasoline, the plastics in stretchy synthetic fabric start out as a fossil fuel. The plastics that appear in so much of our modern world, including your standard yoga pants, come from the byproducts of petroleum refining.
As you probably know, fossil fuels are a finite source that will eventually run out. Extracting and refining the petroleum necessary for plastic also uses tons of energy and water, and often comes with big environmental costs.
Plus, plastics never truly biodegrade, which means the plastic fibers in your yoga pants will live on as tiny plastic molecules in the soil and water basically forever.
Making Yoga Pants From…Corn?
That’s why manufacturers are working on a new material that’s way more sustainable: corn. Dextrose from corn can be used as a substitute for oil products in plastics, including those that give yoga pants their stretch.
The new corn-based fabric is said to be just as comfortable as the old materials, and might even be better at keeping you dry than today’s quick-dry sportswear. As an added bonus, dextrose fabric won’t stick around forever in the landfill, like the plastics in Spandex will.
Corn isn’t the only sustainable textile material on the horizon, however. Yoga pants made from bamboo are gaining popularity all over the world.
You can even buy yoga pants made from fabric comprised of 100% recycled plastic water bottles that are sourced and made entirely in Los Angeles, which reduces the carbon footprint associated with shipping materials around the world.
Devotees of both bamboo and water-bottle yoga pants swear that they’re just as comfortable as synthetic materials, too.
Have you tried eco-friendly yoga pants made from alternative materials? If so, what did you think? What type of sustainable fabric would you most like to try?