The Global State of Sustainable Fashion & Fitness
The pandemic has made consumers increasingly aware of the environmental impact we have when purchasing products, making sustainability one of the biggest topics with over 340,000 searches globally every month.
Research by Deloitte revealed that 43% of consumers are actively choosing brands due to their environmental values, but how many consumers are eco-conscious when it comes to what they purchase in 2021?
To uncover the state of sustainability within fashion & fitness, a new study by Reebok has ranked global cities based on their sustainable fashion credentials, looking at the total textile waste produced by each city as well as how much of this waste is recycled.
The study additionally reveals the best cities to visit and live in to partake in eco-friendly exercise, considering the percentage of bicycle usage, the number of hiking & running trails, number of sunlight hours, the best gym equipment for low carbon emissions and more.
We’ve also partnered with experts within the fashion and fitness industry to reveal how to make sustainable lifestyle choices more accessible. They’ve shared tips on how to make fashion choices more sustainable as well as how to adapt to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Eco-Friendly Fashion: How Do Major Fashion Capitals Rank?
The European Union produced over 2.35 million tonnes of fashion waste in 2018, which undoubtedly has had a huge negative environmental impact. It’s therefore crucial as consumers we are making more eco-conscious decisions when it comes to deciding what we purchase.
Fashion artist, Akvilė Les, said that we should be focussing on “quality over quantity. It’s important to educate yourself and stay informed. There’s a lot of greenwashing – a term recently coined by the press – when companies throw the words like ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ left and right but fail to provide the data backing those claims up.”
When looking at metrics including the tonnes of textile waste per year, the total city’s spend on new clothes per year, the tonnes of clothes landfilled vs. recycled, and Google search volume of 31 different sustainable fashion terms including ‘rent clothes’, ‘vintage shoes’ and ‘recycled fashion’, the study revealed Copenhagen in Denmark is leading the way when it comes to sustainable fashion in Europe.
Our study shows that consumers are becoming much more environmentally aware and are taking issues such as sustainability into consideration when purchasing items.
Copenhagen has been revealed as the best city for sustainable fashion - with 0% of its fashion waste going to landfill and over 4,420 monthly searches on sustainable fashion terms, it's clear to see why the capital ranks the best.
Antwerp coming in second place recycles a massive 17,553 tonnes of textile waste every year, equivalent to 97.36% of all its fashion waste produced in the city. Dublin follows in third ranking highly due to all of the city’s fashion waste produced being converted into usable heat, electricity or fuel, also known as “energy recovery”.
It’s clear to see that overall, Europe’s major fashion capitals still have a lot of work to do to ensure environmentally conscious choices are at the forefront of the conversation.
Kerry Bannigan, Founder of Conscious Fashion Campaign comments “Contributing towards sustainable fashion is a lifestyle. It is a conscious decision to be more informed and take action. Consider how many times you will wear something before purchasing it, shop less, support independent ethical brands and do your homework to research brands that align with your values so that if you must buy something, then you purchase with purpose.”
The UK’s Most Sustainable Cities for Fashion
When finding the UK’s best city for sustainable fashion Reebok analysed how much textile waste each city is producing and compared the amount that ends up in landfill to the amount that’s being recycled.
When analysing Britain’s sustainable fashion footprint, Cambridge is the overall best area in the UK. The city produces just 566 tonnes of textile waste a year, of which 557 ends up being recycled. Dublin comes in second place, despite spending over £886 billion in new clothes each year, none of its fashion waste goes into landfill.
Despite its low ranking, the capital city sits in 38th place, second last, those who call London home are the most fashion conscious, with 14,137 monthly searches for sustainable fashion terms - more than anywhere else in the UK.
The UK’s renowned fast-fashion capital, Manchester, comes in 35th place showing that Mancunians have a long way to go to enjoy sustainable fashion. The city produces 9,816 tonnes of waste per year, with shoppers spending over £2.9 billion on new clothes yearly.
Sustainable Exercise: The Greenest Cities for Fitness Fanatics
The Covid-19 pandemic has altered our usual workout routines and consumers have been forced to consider more creative and often more eco-friendly methods of working out as a result. Cycling, running and walking are just some of the many activities individuals have now worked into their daily routine to keep fit with many taking up new hobbies.
These new habits are predicted to be continued post COVID-19, Women's Health UK recently conducted a study suggesting 72% of gym-goers will not return post lockdown. As many of us have adapted to home workouts it seems many are reluctant to return to the gym, many seeking more eco-friendly alternatives.
Awareness of the environmental impact of gyms is increasing, Dr Folusha Oluwajana Head of Personal Training, Exercise and GP commented; “Many gyms have a range of electrically powered equipment, high-wattage lighting and air-conditioning, and some are now open 24/7.”
“Eco-friendly workouts are free and can often be done close to home, as well as providing the physical and mental health benefits of getting outside, exposure to fresh air and vitamin D in the spring and summer.”
When analysing the state of sustainability within exercise, the research found the following 30 cities were the best locations for adapting an eco-friendly exercise regime based on a variety of metrics from bicycle usage and sunlight hours to the number of running and hiking routes.
The Top 20 Global Cities for Eco-Friendly Exercise
Tokyo claimed first place as the most eco-friendly city to workout. This is no surprise as the city boasts one of the lowest crime rates in the study along with over 1,500 running routes.
Sydney was the runner-up claiming second place, with one of the highest number of sunlight hours along with 1,833 running routes and 323 hiking trails.
Abigail Ireland, performance strategist comments on how to be more environmentally conscious when working out, “We often feel the urge to invest in the latest gadgets and equipment to stay motivated and stimulated to work out. Bringing it back to basics, we only really need our bodies.”
Top 20 European Cities for Eco-Friendly Exercise
When analysing Europe’s best cities for sustainable exercise, London was named the eco-friendly workout capital. The capital offers a vast amount of eco-friendly workout options with over 6,000 running routes along with 243 hiking trails. Londoners search for eco-friendly workout terms 5,724 a month, search terms included second-hand gym and exercise equipment as well as second-hand fitness machines.
Denmark's capital Copenhagen followed closely behind in second place with an impressive biker usage percentage of 39.69%, along with lower than average crime and pollution rates. Amsterdam came in third place boasting 1500 running routes and 45% biker usage.
When investing in eco-friendly new gym equipment, Dr Folusha Oluwajana Head of Personal Training, Exercise and GP stated, “If you are thinking of getting more equipment to furnish your “home gym” consider getting second-hand items, such as dumbbells or benches. Or make use of items you have at home! Chairs and stools can be a great alternative to a bench, and a bottle of water (reusable of course), tins, jars, a bag of flour or sugar all could be used as handheld weights.”
The Most Eco-Friendly Cities for Working Out in the UK
When researching the best UK city for sustainable exercise Reebok analysed a series of metrics including the usage of bikes within the city, number of sunlight hours and the crime rate.
Durham was named the most sustainable city for exercising in the UK. This came as no surprise as the location offers an impressive volume of running routes and lower than average crime and pollution rates. Cambridge followed closely in second place with 166 citizens searching per month for eco-friendly workout options; the region also has the highest percentage of bike usage with 37.5% of individuals in the region using bikes.
London was identified as the region with the highest volume of running routes with an impressive 6,743 different routes in the city - this coming as no surprise as London has over 60,000 streets and roads. The city also offers a wide range of green spaces with over 3,000 parks which make up 18% of the city.
When considering eco-friendly workout options, Abigail Ireland, performance strategist suggested, “Appreciating what Mother Nature has to offer us is always worthwhile. Go for an outdoor jog, and even try out the Swedish approach of ‘plogging’, where you can combine jogging with picking up litter on your route!”
When looking at the emission totals from manufacturing gym workout equipment, our study found that making your own dumbbells ranked as the best equipment for the environment. Producing just 0.4kg carbon emissions per unit and using Polyethylene as the main material make DIY dumbbells a great choice when using eco-friendly equipment.
Popular items such as exercise yoga balls and yoga mats fall in second and third place in the study. Made from PVC, these items produce just 0.6kg and 0.7kg of carbon emissions respectively.
We asked experts to share their advice on what exercises and equipment are the best for reducing your carbon footprint.
Abigail Ireland, performance strategist comments, “Calisthenic workouts are amazing for strength, agility, stamina and all-round fitness so definitely doing more bodyweight exercises goes a long way whilst creating no carbon footprint.
“When investing in equipment, opt for long-lasting fundamentals like dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells and resistance bands that offer you a huge variety of workout options without requiring electricity.”
At Reebok, we’re continuously striving for a sustainable future. Take a look at our sustainable products for your inspiration.