Ultimate Eco Swaps for Your Gym Bag

If you’re an active gym-goer, athlete, or outdoors-person, you’ve probably gotten into the routine of packing a bag. It’s almost second nature for a lot of us!

Yes, we know you may have a lot of loyalty to some of those trusted items in your workout routine. But it’s worth considering swapping one or two items for the ethical alternative. We’ve put together some eco swap outs in your gym bag that are money-saving in the long-term, sustainable, and will LAST. Items that last mean less time shopping/packing, and more time on gains.

After all, the things we use everyday have a huge collective impact. And it just FEELS good to have products you know are improving the environment/supporting ethical labor as you’re improving yourself.


1. Travel-Sized, Single-Use Shower Essentials → Zero Waste or Bulk Shower Essentials

Ditch those single-use shampoos, body washes, and soaps. They are expensive, don’t last that long, and end up just packing on the plastic in the landfill. Consider natural soap bars, shampoo/conditioner bars.

They last a LOT longer and won’t dry out your skin / cause adverse reactions like most chemical-infused beauty products do. If you aren’t comfortable making that step just yet (we get it, good skin and hair products are hard to find), then try buying more in bulk so that you not only save money in the long-run, but reduce the amount of waste you’re creating.

Bonus! Investing in a steel safety razor (as opposed to those finicky plastic ones) has been one of the best swaps of my life. They create a MUCH cleaner shave and come apart in pieces so they’re easier to pack up and travel with.

From EcoRoots


2. Scratchy Cheap Towel or Gym Towels → Hemp Towel

Since we’re on the topic of showering, let’s talk towels. Most gym towels suck – there I said it. They’re scratchy and don’t absorb sweat / water well. Not to mention – textiles is the second most polluting industry in the world, so there’s a lot of emissions and even unethical labor behind most athletic towels.

We’re on a mission to change that with our 100% Plant-Based Athletic Towels, powered by hemp and organic cotton. They are soft, durable, antimicrobial, and quick-drying (so no more stinky bags because of stinky towels).

Get yours here: Indiegogo

3. Spray Deodorant → Natural Deodorant

Ever walked into a locker room after someone used a spray deodorant? It’s presence is known as you feel that burning sensation in your lungs as you inhale all the aerosols from that spray. News flash – this isn’t healthy for you to inhale or put ON your body. What’s bad for you is often bad for the earth — those spray deodorants also release emissions/toxins into the air. Spray deodorant has been linked to migraines and other health problems. Also, aluminum in some deodorants in particular is linked to cancer.

Swap it out for stick deodorant made with more natural ingredients. Here is an ingredient watch list to peruse when shopping.

4. Single Use Water Bottle → Reusable Water Bottle (Preferably not a Plastic One)

It’s the 21st Century and it’s time to ditch single use plastic bottles. Think about how much money is spent on water that is essentially bottled tap water…(yes we aren’t kidding!) Also, plastic is derived from oil, which means every plastic product we buy supports the fossil fuel industry (ugh!) Recycling water bottles is obviously an option, but our recycling industry is quite overwhelmed. So it’s best to just use a reusable one.

Plus, a reusable water bottle not made of plastic is more convenient, cheaper, and aesthetically more pleasing. (Yes I admit, I’ve matched the color of my water bottle to my gym outfit before…don’t judge).

5. Processed Packaged Foods → Healthier Foods Packed in Reusable Containers

What’s the worst thing you can do after a hard workout? Arguably – eating crap packaged in plastic wrap. I know…it’s super convenient to buy those single-use bags of nuts or whatever. But in actuality, most things aren’t that great for you and again – end up in the landfill.

Stock up on some beeswax wrap and reusable ziploc bags (yes that’s a thing!). They’re reusable and easy to pack. Plus, the little extra time it takes to pack your snacks will probably cause you to be a little more mindful of what you’re packing.

Try buying bulk in the “bulk sections” of your local grocery stores if you have them. Or better yet – make your own snacks! Then you know EXACTLY what’s in them.

Here’s a recipe for homemade, honey no-bake granola bars that I LOVE:

 Julie’s Eats & Treats

From Beeswaxwraps.co.uk
From NetZeroCompany

6. Expensive, Unethical Sneakers → Eco Shoes

I’ll admit, this swap takes a little more $$$ but is worth it in the long run (no pun intended). Sneakers have a huge environmental impact: their production is high in emissions (close to the airline industry!) and the demand for “in style” sneakers is hyping up production, prompting some companies to unfortunately overwork (and underpay) the people who make your shoes. Nike for example has been exposed multiple times in particular for using actual slave labor along their supply chain.

I personally LOVE Allbirds, a sustainable athletic shoes company that puts out stylish and sustainably-made sneakers. From the materials to the production to the shipping – these people care. And the shoes last.

7. Expensive Fast Fashion Clothes → Second-Hand or Ethically-Made Clothes

While we’re on the topic of attire, let’s talk about the clothes we wear. Essentially all the problems I’ve spoken about with shoes apply to fashion. In short – those big athletic fashion brands are creating a huge negative impact on the earth and the people who work for them.

If you’re interested in this topic, I suggest watching this video sustainable fashion influencer Kristen Leo which I think does a great job of explaining the problem : 

If you can’t afford some of the better brands (like Patagonia, Pact and Athleta), then try buying secondhand. That plain white tank top that costs $50 at Top Shop is probably closer to $5 at your local thrift store.