9 Sustainable Hacks for Eco-warriors in 2021 - Women's Health

9 Sustainable Hacks for Eco-warriors in 2021

Beyond the keep cup…

by | Aug 19, 2021

You’ve got your bamboo cup and have cut back on meat, so what now for the budding eco warrior? Try these next-level hacks.

Shop Dehydrated

Not you, obviously: we mean your products. There’s a growing trend for waterless beauty and cleaning products in bar, powder or sugar-cube-like formats to mix with water at home. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a charity that promotes a circular economy, a typical bottle of household cleaner is 90 per cent water! Going waterless means reducing the (usually plastic) packaging, as well as the size and weight, and therefore transport emissions. Check out some brands like Sea Our Beauty and Ethique.

Be Less Delicate

Washing synthetic fabrics (hello, gym gear) unleashes microfibres (microscopic pieces of plastic) into the environment. One piece of clothing can release 700,000 fibres in a single wash, which can then find their way to the sea.

Researchers at the UK’s Newcastle University found that a delicate wash cycle releases more microfibres than a standard one because it uses more water, which breaks off more fibres. So, opt for a non-delicate setting for your activewear and try washing clothes in a Guppyfriend bag – it gathers up fibres before they make a break for the ocean. Gotcha.

Be Med Aware

Sixty nine: the number of human pharmaceuticals researchers found in the bodies of aquatic insects in waterways around Melbourne. No prizes for guessing this isn’t good news.

“Some medications pass through our system and, once in the environment, they have the potential to change how streams and rivers function,” explains researcher Dr Erinn Richmond from the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University.

“For example, antidepressants can alter how algae produce oxygen.” Obviously the answer isn’t to ditch any medicines you need, but try to avoid bulk-buying ones you’re not sure you’ll use (we see you, out-of-date paracetamol stash). And another thing: “Please don’t wash unwanted or expired medication down the drain or flush them down the toilet,” says Richmond. “Return them to a local pharmacy for safe disposal.” Noted.

Get Unscrewed

Next time you’re eyeing up a new fitness tracker or phone, check how easy it is to take apart.

“A big sustainability issue is products with embedded batteries. As soon as the battery dies, the whole product is redundant,” says Dr Rachael Wakefield-Rann, Senior Research Consultant at Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures. Only about 3 per cent of handheld batteries get recycled in Australia; the rest end up in landfill where harmful chemicals leach out and pollute soil and water. Planned obsolescence is rife in tech, with products designed with a limited lifespan to keep you shopping. “Ask, can I pull this apart to repair it? Are the screws glued in? What’s the company’s end-of-life policy? Will they take it back and recycle it?” says Wakefield-Rann. You may be surprised: sex toy company Normal will actually recycle retired toys for you.

Dodge the BPS Bluff

That BPA-free sports bottle of yours might not be as innocuous as it looks. BPA hit the headlines when it was revealed the chemical, used to make plastic, can impact the developmental and reproductive health of animals such as fish (not to mention human health). While brands now shout about being BPA-free, Wakefield-Rann explains that “BPA has just been replaced by BPS in most things” – referring to another similar chemical from
the same family.

“[Manufacturers] often look for a chemical that has similar properties, so they don’t have to reformulate the product – but if it’s chemically similar, then it’s likely to have the same damaging impact.”  Your best bet? Avoid – and grill companies about whether their products contain – any bisphenols (the chemical category both BPA and BPS fall into). Or, switch to glass or metal instead – we’re fans of Ever Eco’s stainless steel bottles. 

Update Your Gym Kit wIth These Finds

Resistance bands

These cuties are made with environmentally friendly dye and feature non-slip grips. Available in a pack of three, from light to heavy. 

Nutra Organics Resistance Bands, $29.95, nutraorganics.com.au

Period leggings

Made with 78 per cent recycled material, these moderate-to-heavy flow leggings hold the equivalent of two to three tampons (or three teaspoons) of fluid.

Modibodi 7/8 Recycled Active Legging, $99, modibodi.com


Naked Harvest ditches the plastic scoop and ships in environmentally-friendly packaging, while Nutra Organics uses 100 per cent plastic-free recyclable canisters.  

Naked Harvest Natural Pre-workout, $52.95, nakedharvestsupplements.com, and Nutra Organics Clean Energy Natural Pre Workout, $49.95, nutraorganics.com.au


This gut-friendly blend of sprouted and fermented pea, brown rice, coconut and pumpkin seed proteins comes in a canister that’s less carbon intensive than steel cans and glass. It contains no plastic, either. Winning. 

Nutra Organics Clean Protein in Salted Caramel Fudge, $49.95, nutraorganics.com.au

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8 Of The Best Exercise Shorts That Will Power You Through A Summer Of Movement

It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 


Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 


Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 


Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 


Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?