This story is part of Gear Patrol’s continuing look at different approaches to sustainability, leading up to Earth Day on April 22nd.
Cork. Mushrooms. Coffee beans. Beech. Birch. Eucalyptus. Spruce. What do each of these have in common, besides the fact that they grow in the ground? You’re going to start seeing them on the tags of your favorite outdoor gear. A new and growing trend in the outdoor and fitness space is the making of items and apparel either entirely, or partially, from innovative plant-based fabrics.
Plant-based is nothing new in clothing — cotton and hemp are two well-known plants that have been used in clothing since the dawn of time. Seaweed, coffee, trees and mushrooms, however, aren’t as popular — yet. We’re seeing a plant-based revolution in the gear world, with brands and manufacturers re-examining the natural order of goods. And just in case you’re wondering: yes, plant-based fabrics perform as well as their synthetic or animal-based counterparts.
Lululemon Barrel Duffle Bag
This bag is made with Mylo, which is also called mushroom leather because it is crafted from mycelium, a.k.a. mushrooms’ underground root system. It looks and feels like leather, but is kinder to animals and the earth.
Scarpa 4-Quattro Series
Ever progressive and high-performance, the lightest GripWalk hybrid ski boots on the market draw on flora in an unconventional way; the shell and cuff are made from castor bean plants.
Duer No Sweat Jogger
Made with cotton, Tencel (a wood-based material, typically made with beech, birch, eucalyptus and spruce), and Lycra polyester and spandex, these pants are about as close to 100-percent plant-based as performance-oriented joggers can get.
Reebok Nano X1 Vegan
Meet one of the most popular training shoes, reimagined as a vegan product. The vegan Nano X1 uses a plant-based version of Reebok’s Flexweave knit and Floatride EnergyFoam made with castor bean.
This skate shoe features a cork and bio-based foam insole (made in part with mamona oil), as well as a vulcanized natural rubber outsole.
Satisfy Coffee Thermal Base Layer
While the notion of transforming your used coffee grounds into a lightweight, soft and capable long-sleeve shirt may seem far-fetched, Satisfy has done it. Its NILIT-HEAT Coffee Thermal fabric is knitted with coffee-charcoal infused fibers.
A Word to the Wise
When it comes to clothing, plant-based and vegan mean two very different things. A shoe, shirt, ski boot or pair of sunglasses can be vegan, and treated with all kinds of nasty chemicals and synthetic materials to replace animal products. Plant-based materials, on the other hand, are exactly what they sound like: made from plants. This doesn’t mean they don’t come with their own chemical treatments, but they do tend to be easier on the planet, due to their inherently recycled and upcycled nature.