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Lululemon leggings have been all the rage in recent years. They’re all over Instagram, and Seventeen Magazine has even called them “necessary life investments”—say what?! While we can’t deny the technical qualities or comfort of the leggings in question, we’re not huge fans of Lululemon and its practices—more on that below. So, we went on the hunt for the best more sustainable alternatives to Lululemon leggings and yoga pants. If you’re on the lookout for a pair of leggings, have a look at our list below and discover some of our favourite more responsible activewear brands.
What’s wrong with Lululemon leggings?
Lululemon is a high-end activewear chain that offers yoga-inspired athletic apparel for most sweaty pursuits. The brand claims to be dedicated to sustainable practice. But we found it was a bit of a stretch to call it ethical—based on information from our own research, we’ve given Lululemon an overall rating of “Not Good Enough”.
When it comes to labour, we’re glad to see some level of transparency in the supply chain, but Lululemon still falls short. If the brand’s employees aren’t being paid a living wage, it’s simply not good enough to be considered truly ethical conduct.
On the environment front, we’d like to see less talk and more action. The brand uses some more responsible materials including recycled options, but we found no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals, nor does it have adequate policies or initiatives on water reduction. Lululemon’s leggings, in particular, are mostly made of polyester, nylon, and lycra, all synthetic materials derived from crude oil that shed microfibres.
As you might already know, synthetic fabrics have a huge carbon footprint, requiring enormous amounts of energy, water, and toxic dyes to create. Plus, they take years to decompose, if ever. So if you happen to have Lululemon leggings in your wardrobe, use them for as long as you can and clean them in a wash bag, then find ways to upcycle them.
When it comes to animals, while Lululemon does not use fur, angora, leather, or exotic animal skin, there is no evidence it has an animal welfare policy. It uses down feathers accredited by the Responsible Down Standard, which is a plus, but it also uses wool and exotic animal hair without stating sources, so we can’t be sure how the animals are treated.
Lululemon is not doing enough to reduce its impact on the planet, people, and animals, which is why we wouldn’t recommend buying its leggings. Luckily, there are tons of more ethical and sustainable brands that create eco-friendly, conscious, comfortable, and stylish leggings.
These more sustainable alternatives to Lululemon leggings are more responsibly made, size-inclusive, and in the same price range as Lululemon’s—what more could you ask for?