Gear Gets Green


When it comes to sustainability in certain categories, the small things can sometimes be overlooked. We’ve burrowed into the nooks and crevasses of the outdoor and athletic industries to find what eco-advances are being made in gear and accessories today. 

Bennd Yoga: Ayurvedic Yoga Block

Heather Parkin, yogi and founder of the biodynamic firm, Bennd Yoga, was like many of us who fret about using sweat-laden, foam yoga blocks in the studio. “I thought, what if we could make a block that felt great under your hands, soft enough to sit on, and looks beautiful!” she said. The brand’s Sappan Wood Ayurvedic Yoga Block is made of 100 percent ethically sourced raw cotton that is medicinally dyed and hand loomed. Cotton threads are dyed in Indigo and infused with 22 different Ayurvedic herbs and medicines (known to reduce inflammation, and improve blood circulation). Each is filled with organic buckwheat hulls offering support (along with organic lavender for a calming effect). All pillows and blocks are refillable.

“If you choose to empty or refill your block, you can use the buckwheat hull as mulch for your plants or garden to suppress weeds and keep soil moist,” Parkin noted. The exec added that the blocks can deepen your practice, with increased core awareness. “You can’t dump your weight into it like you can with a foam block, which can hide flaws in your technique, making you more prone to injury.” Bennd upcycles water and dyes to fertilize their herb gardens, repurposes leftover textiles and avoids virgin packaging.

Wilson: Naked Series Racket

The limited-edition Naked Series is Wilson’s first stab toward creating a fully sustainable tennis racket. Naked Series tennis rackets use water-based paint and dyes instead of traditional solvent-based product. The grip is crafted of biodegradable polyurethane. The product ships in a reinforced cardboard box, big enough to protect it in transit without using additional packaging, that is 100 percent curbside recyclable and sturdy enough to reuse. Water used to produce the racket was reduced by 10.8 percent compared with other rackets. Wilson Racquet Sports senior director of global product, Jason Collins, wants to make it clear that the firm “doesn’t compromise the performance and integrity of our rackets in making more sustainably-minded products.”

Wilson employed Agiplast, a bio-based plastic derived from castor bean oil on Naked Series racket bumpers, grommets and the buttcap. Arkema’s bio-based material is now standard in butt caps and grommet systems in all Wilson performance rackets. Prepping for the future, the company has completed a Life Cycle Assessment of its Clash and Pro Staff rackets, and is working on an LCA for its tennis balls. The team hopes to implement more recycled fabrics and components into its bag lines. 

Casio: PROTREK PRG340 Watch

Designed for outdoor enthusiasts and climbers, the PRG340 features castor seeds and corn, while providing high readability with a dual-layer LCD. “This line expands upon the design and innovation of the Casio PROTrek PRW61, which was the first Casio watch of its kind to incorporate biomass plastics,” according to Tadashi Shibuya, VP of Casio’s Timepiece Division. The PRG340 case, case back, band and rotating bezel are created with biomass plastics. The bezel, which is more prone to impact, is a newly developed, stronger biomass plastic. 

The water-resistant timepiece includes Triple Sensor technology for easy measurements of compass bearing, barometric pressure, temperature, and altitude with the push of a non-slip button that’s easy to navigate, even wearing gloves. The PRG340 models are also powered by a Tough Solar system that can operate for up to seven months with exposure to only small amounts of light. The duplex LCD employs separate layers for the compass graphics and clock functions, enabling a larger (easier to read) compass display and easier navigation.

Dragon Alliance: Upcycled Eyewear

The goal of the Upcycled line is to protect earth and all of its adventures, five water bottles at a time, Denise Arrasate, supervisor of Dragon Eyewear, explained. “Every frame in the collection is designed through a process that repurposes or upcycles single use-plastics to reduce the impact on the land we love to explore, the air we breathe and the water we ride.” The eco-minded options keep the same durability and fit as the brand’s original product. Dragon’s most popular sunglass, The Jam, was upcycled to be made from 100 percent recycled water bottles. The company announced in September 2022 that it will partner with Plastic Bank, a firm which helps stop plastic before it reaches the ocean.

Dragon’s Plant-Based Resin sunglasses are crafted with castor bean oil – in an injection molded plant-based resin front – for plastics that are strong, light and durable while reducing our carbon footprint and ultimately, our impact on the planet, according to Arrasate. Dragon Alliance partners with suppliers trained and certified by India’s project Pragati to improve working conditions, create awareness for sustainable farming and increase yields due to more efficient farming practices.