Blogs & Press
Inspired by Greta: Climate Change and our clothing choices.
It was so interesting to follow the press coverage and public response last week to Greta Thunberg’s speech to the United Nations. She received so much support and inspired world-wide Friday Climate Strikes.
This inspired me to write about the environmental impact the clothing we buy has on our planet. I am the designer and owner of Loko Sport. I am proud to say that about 90% of the fabrics I choose for my collections are eco-friendly. I will tell you a bit about these fabrics and then discuss the benefits of using eco-friendly fabrics and the benefits of buying locally-made.
The Bamboo fabric I choose comes from the biodegradable bamboo plant that regenerates in 55 days. It requires no pesticides and is naturally wickable and breathable. OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified.
Chitosante is used in our technical tops. It is EPA-certified and achieves its anti-bacterial properties by using the shells of crab or shrimp rather than a widely used chemical treatment. It is breathable, wickable and quick-drying.
Our new Leopard Print for Fall 2019 is made from recycled plastic bottles. This fabric is also OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified.
I think it’s easy to understand that switching to eco-friendly fabrics is beneficial to climate change action. After all, most manufacturers study what the consumer wants in an effort to bring products to the market place that will sell. As consumers, if we choose to buy environmentally friendly products, that is what will show up in the marketplace. When I choose fabrics with no chemical treatments, this is also better for the health of the wearer. Those chemicals are not touching your skin and being absorbed into your bloodstream.
This brings us to the sister topic of locally-made. Did you know that most clothing shipped to us from “supplier” countries are coated with chemicals such as formaldehyde to keep away bugs and rodents on the ships that are on route to North America and other consumer countries?
I met with a factory in Toronto a few years ago who used to manufacture for a large Canadian label when they did make in Canada. Since the company now makes it’s clothing off-shore for cheaper, the Toronto factory has accepted the job of receiving and unpacking the barrels of clothing that are imported. They have set up a quarantined room where the staff wears hazmat suits to unpack. They have to be prepared for any unwelcomed life that may have travelled with the clothes across the ocean and for the toxic fumes that eminate from the barrels.
Did you also know that the vast majority of clothing is made by people and not automated machinery? It is cut by someone who stacked up fabric on a cutting table and sewn by mostly women who work in poor, unsafe conditions and are paid an average of $5 USD per DAY. Sometimes it is sewn by children. They work in buildings that sometimes collapse: see the 2013 movie The True Cost. https://truecostmovie.com/
I know that clothing made in countries, such as Canada are more expensive, and that is often prohibitory, but the solution to this could be just to buy a few less pieces: to buy less but better. An example of the way I personally shop is: if I have $90 in my budget to spend, I will by one good quality, ethically-made, eco-conscious item for $90 rather than three, poor quality, not ethically-made, not eco-conscious items for $30/piece.
Honestly, it makes me a bit annoyed when I have to throw away a cheap shirt after wearing it for one season. I then need to spend more of my time and money replacing it. These cheap garments are usually too worn to donate and end up the landfill. If you tire of a good quality item, it will still have some life left in it for the next person when you recycle by donating the item.
When we make in Canada, we are employing Canadians and abiding by Canadian employment standards and environmental laws. When you buy Canadian, you are putting money and jobs back into our economy.
We do small batch manufacturing: cut, sew, then straight to the selling floor. We don’t bag each piece in plastic. You may have been at a store in the mall and witnessed staff unpacking boxes of garments that have all been individually packed in plastic. Remember the bugs and rodents I mentioned? I know a few people with respiratory issues that can’t even go to the mall at the beginning of the season due to the toxic fumes.
Greta is urging us to take action. One way of doing this is by making conscious, purposeful decisions when we are shopping. Choose eco-friendly, choose ethically-made, choose locally-made. Vote with your dollars for the kind of world you want to live in.
The fashionable side of staying fit
Life, growth and Yoga
Just over a year ago, I started my 200-hour yoga teacher training. I signed up after I took a look at the life I wanted to lead, and realized I needed a shift.
I am Type A by nature (and I think the family members involved would agree that there’s some nurture involved). I am driven. When there’s a job to be done, I would aim to do it to perfection, and thought of time as merely a construct. When I started running, I quickly started going longer and was at the marathon distance within a few years. When I started triathlon, it was to do an Ironman 70.3 and then, a few years later, Ironman. It should have come as no surprise, then, that I have burned myself out on more than one occasion.
Yoga helped me to find balance in my “fitness” life, as I came back to it after I was exhausted from my first Ironman. I knew that there was something to how I had grown through yoga, and toyed with yoga teacher training for a while. When I was presented with some options to change my role at work, I really thought about what I wanted out of life, and realized I needed a different balance between work and everything else.
As I went through the process of training, I took a hard look at myself and why I felt the need to work so hard. I realized that my perfectionism came out of a fear of not being good enough… or just enough, for that matter. I found a different relationship with my own personal boundaries in a safe setting with a group of women I adore, and I was introduced to Sandra and Loko Sport as I was on that journey.
I was proud to have ethical clothing from a local creator and a woman who has created her own business and an inclusive niche within the broader fitness apparel industry. Truthfully, I felt better on the days that I could show up to training in clothing that reflected my own values of empowering women, buying locally and ethically, and ensuring that yoga is safe, accessible, and joyful for everyone.
Coming out of yoga teacher training, I realized how valuable the experience had been for my personal growth. I had thought I might build a career as a yoga teacher, and that may still happen someday, but the process actually made me realize that there was space to bring what I had learned in my off-the-mat practice to my day job. I teach at my own office, the London Roundhouse, one day/week. More importantly, I bring what I have learned about myself to my role as COO, and I lead our team with love. Yoga teacher training helped me to find a different flow between work and life, such that I truly bring my whole self to my work, and have the opportunity to infuse yoga into my work-life in a way that fits. Incidentally, Loko Sport is part of that very journey, as I can so easily pair the fitness apparel with my work clothing for easy transitions from the mat to my desk.
Finding your Balance through Self Care
I fondly remember the days when my kids were young children. The true gift that children give you is the opportunity to experience life again through eyes of wonder and innocence. We used to spend countless hours just watching ants, waving at fire trucks, and literally stopping to smell the roses. These are precious moments that will stay with me forever, and I am so grateful to have had those special years.
My son and daughter are young adults now and well on their way down their own life path. I now find myself with spare time! What is this, a young mother may ask?
I think it is so important for parents of young children to squeeze out some time for self care. It is difficult to keep on giving when you haven’t replenished your own cup. Looking back, I wish I had taken more time to take care for my own mental and emotional health. I did go to the gym several times a week for some pretty intense workouts, but I never took the time for calm, quiet reflection. Life was go, go, go.
In the last year or so, I have been working on my yoga and meditation practice. This practice has truly brought me clarity, calm, and peace. I wish that I had discovered meditation sooner and introduced my children to it. I think children can benefit greatly by learning meditation. School can be loud, busy and overwhelming and kids often react to it to by misbehaving. Rather than punishment, kids could learn to take some time out to be alone and quietly find their inner balance. It is a tool for all of us to help manage anxiety and the pressures of everyday life.
It doesn’t have to cost any money to bring meditation into your life and your children’s lives. Free podcasts are helpful: you may want to try a short guided meditation to keep you on track. There are also podcasts for children available. The ability to manage your thoughts and emotions better is a great gift for the whole family. Give it a try!
Written by Sandra Maniago, Founder/Designer of Loko Sport