Athleta Stands Up For Mother Earth [3 minute read]

Celebrating Earth Day with Featherweight Stretch™

At Athleta, we believe nature is one, vast playground. It’s filled with things to climb up and jump off and dive into. To hike and trek and run on. To swim in and paddle across. To keep us in awe for a lifetime. Because we thrive in the great outdoors, we believe in preserving it for generations to come. So, in honor of Earth Day, we’re sharing our story of how Featherweight Stretch™ came to be and how it represents our desire to change the world, one piece of clothing at a time.

Photo: @islandawakening


We strive for innovation, in a way that impacts both you and the environment in a positive way. Every step we take toward reducing our carbon footprint is a step in the right direction. So, where do we start? We all know recycling is one of the most significant contributions we can make to the betterment of our world. That’s where our internal Sustainability Task Force comes into play. We challenged them to come up with a way we can start to make less of an impact on the world. Their answer? Recycled Polyester.


It’s a material made out of post-consumer plastic bottles (those disposable plastic bottles you buy at the store and throw in the trash). It takes less energy to produce than virgin polyester, has a 75% lower carbon footprint, and uses up to 90% less water. Basically, it’s a win-win: by using more than six plastic bottles in every garment, we prevent more plastic bottles from ending up in landfills. And, since the process relies on recycled material, we also reduce the amount of toxins and energy it would take to manufacture plastic in the first place. In the end, it’s a small change that makes a big difference.


Before everything else, we’re women athletes who design performance apparel. The sustainability benefit alone is not enough for us– it has to fit in with our on-the-go lifestyle. Luckily, innovation has vastly changed the recycled product landscape and we had the right kind of fibers at our disposal (no pun intended). First, we searched exhaustively for the right material. Then we put it to the test. We put it through our reps, runs, and routines. We jam-packed it in bags over long flights and made sure it rolled out looking ready-to-go. We made sure it not only felt amazing, but looked amazing. And when our wear-testers chose the recycled fabric over the standard one, and we knew we had a game-changer. And when our wear-testers revealed that they preferred the recycled polyester fabric over the virgin, we knew we had a game-changer.


Our recycled Featherweight Stretch™ is the ultimate fabric for keeping up with our active lives while also being easy on the planet. It’s sleek, stretchy, and lightweight. It’s breathable and provides UPF 50+ protection for full-on coverage during outdoor adventures. It’s wrinkle-resistant and packs down super small, yet feels luxurious and silky while you’re en route. It’s so light and so comfortable that we keep coming up with new ways to use it, from our favorite City Pants to dresses and everything in between. Our goal is to use it as much as we possibly can.


In 2015 alone, we diverted seven million plastic bottles from landfill with our implementation of recycled polyester, and in 2016, we aim to do even better. Every time you wear our Featherweight Stretch™ fabric, know that you’re helping us take greater strides toward preserving this great outdoor playground we call Mother Earth. Now go on, explore it. And let us know what you find.


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Midtown Ankle Pant

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Destination Wide Leg Pant

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Printed Crossback Romper

Shop All Featherweight Stretch™

Stephan Dodeman

April 22, 2016 at 4:51 am

Hi! I just read your article about the recycled poly. Nice but really only one fabric from the entire collection? You could do better.. Coming from the Gap group which gave zero support to environment , and even less Banana Republic… You should look at Prana & Nau before bragging your support as environmentalists..
Giving 3% to the Eco charity would have been the right gesture even more on Earth Day….

Betty Rooker

April 22, 2016 at 7:45 am

I an a fan of your featherweight fabrics. My favorite Athlete piece of clothing is old enough that I forget what it was called. It is durable, stretchable, packable, and always looks the same and feels as if I am wearing nothing. I am looking forward to seeing your new line in the store. It would be good marketing as well as charitable to contribute whatever percentage is doable to the environment from these sales.

maria arefieva

April 22, 2016 at 9:36 am

Thank you Stephan Dodeman for making this point. I second.


April 23, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Thank you, Stephan, for calling attention to this! I completely agree. While some of the products claim to be “saving” plastic from a life in a landfill, I’d like to point out that every item, even something as small as a headband, is individually wrapped in plastic. That is hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of plastic bags entering our landfills and oceans just for these items to be shipped out. Athleta and Gap Inc. should be embarrassed to give themselves any sort of environmentally-friendly title.


April 24, 2016 at 7:25 am

I’m sorry, but since when is it a bad thing to be making ANY kind of effort to initiate environmentally sustainable changes to the way products are made. Athleta clearly stated that it was a start and pledged to do more in the coming years. I applaud their efforts and you should too!


May 10, 2016 at 9:24 am

Every single innovation and step taken toward environmental sustainability counts, whether it be from a large corporation like Gap or one of the gazillion non-profits doing good for the planet (yes, there are more than one). Thank you for giving me another reason to love Athleta. Keep on innovating!

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