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Inside Allbirds’ New Activewear Line That’s Actually Sustainable

Allbirds’ ‘Natural Run Tee.’

Activewear is designed to cool while users work up a sweat. But its manufacture also eats tons of carbon-based fuels in the process. 

The athletic industry’s MVP, polyester, makes up about 55% of all activewear. Its cheap production cost has made it a go-to for nearly everything we exercise in — from the everyday athlete to those competing for gold medals. The result, however, is damning. Producing polyester annually uses enough oil to power 47,000 cruise ships, and spews 700 million tons of carbon (70 million football fields) into the atmosphere. It’s a permanent fixture on our ocean floors, with 14 million tons of microplastics that break down into smaller and smaller particles that will never fully disappear.

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In pursuit of personal bests, the sportswear industry’s dependence on oil-based plastic fabrics has left Mother Earth in much worse shape. Enter Allbirds’ “Natural Run Collection.”

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As with all of its products, Allbirds packed its “Natural Run Apparel” full of premium natural fibers, designed with carbon consciousness in mind. As opposed to putting innovation muscle into oil-based plastic or defaulting to off-the-rack synthetic material blends, Allbirds invested its research and design budget into developing low-emission natural alternatives while prioritizing recycled resources to fill in the gaps. 

After two years and more than 70 iterations, Allbirds’ first performance apparel collection was tested over thousands of hours to meet industry benchmarks for sweat-wicking and comfort stretching. Its “Natural Legging,” for example, is powered by a moisture-wicking, odor-reducing, and thermoregulating blend of silky smooth Eucalyptus Tree fiber and superfine Merino wool. The permeable fabric proved to be up to twice as breathable as leading synthetic pairs on the market, demonstrating that natural materials can go toe-to-toe with plastic – and win. As a necessary bonus, the new line looks sharp as well. 

Allbirds Natural Legging and bike shorts sit high on the waist with mid-weight and mid-support, perfect for everything from a brisk walk to a long run. Its “Natural Run Form” tanks and tees are form-fitting while not being too cropped or too long, aiming to skim waistlines. The slick, mesh structure is durable and dries quickly as you move through mile after mile. Merino wool is also the star of the show in “Natural Run Shorts,” an unconventional yet spot-on material choice for the loose, lightweight shorts.

Allbirds has not completely extracted itself from polyester, however, which is why the brand is working hard to meet its 2025 goal of 75% natural or recycled materials in everything it makes.

Our physical fitness shouldn’t hurt our planet’s health. The only way to win is to play on nature’s team.

Read more: Best Sustainable Brands

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