With awareness of global warming affecting consumer behavior, makers of recreational gear and clothing are feeling the heat to make their products more environmentally friendly. The result: an explosion of eco-sensitive merchandise that uses recycled materials, petroleum-based alternatives, fewer dyes, or sustainably grown materials that use less water and emit less CO2 in manufacturing. Here are a few examples:
1. Natural rubber wetsuit
Patagonia R2 Yulex front-zip wetsuit: This wetsuit replaces conventional neoprene, a petroleum-based artificial foam rubber. It uses an 85% natural rubber/15% synthetic rubber mix. The company says the formula reduces 80% of CO2 emissions during the manufacturing process. The rubber latex is tapped from trees that are Forest Stewardship Council certified by the Rainforest Alliance. The dying process uses 86% less water than dying neoprene.
Why we like it: It’s loaded with durable and practical features, such as external seam sealing, and a triple-glued and easy-access key loop. Rated to 55-to-60-degree water, with a form-fitting snugness that loosens with use.
Info: $459, Patagonia.com
2. Plant-based running shoe
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio shoe: Minimalist running footwear made of 30% renewable plant materials. In place of petroleum-derived materials, it uses something called bio-thermoplastic polyurethane made from yellow dent field corn, natural rubber and harvested bloom algae.
Why we like it: At 9 ounces for an average-sized shoe, it weighs about 10% less than Vivobarefoot’s standard ultra-thin-soled shoe, which allows for barefoot-style sensory feedback.
Info: $160, vivobarefoot.com/us
3. Natural Yoga Block
Hugger Mugger cork yoga block: Rectangular yoga block made of 100% renewable cork.
Why we like it: The cork texture provides an easy-to-grip, non-slip surface. The round edges keep it comfortable for supported backbends and other positions.
Info: $21.95, huggermugger.com
4. Recycled jacket
Jack Wolfskin Kiewa fleece jacket: Fleece running/hiking jacket made of 100% recycled plastic bottles and fabric remnants. The outer fabric, waterproof membrane, lining and insulation that are all made from recycled materials (zippers, pull-tabs and labels are the only components that are not recycled). This Germany-based brand is among the first to offer eco-clothing.
What we like: Breathable, fast-drying stretch fabric with two hand pockets.
Info: $139,amazon.com/jackwolfskin (click on “sustainable collection”)