20160327-IMG_9440(photo credit: Jon Cameron Photography)

I’ve always had a unique relationship with nature as an athlete. I have vivid memories of weaving in and out of the woods during cross country meets as early as kindergarden. My young, short body sensing the trees towering over me. My ears relishing the sound of leaves crunching with every step.

And even now, as I ramp up my Ironman training in my late 20s, I’m reminded nearly every day of the fond appreciation I have for a healthy planet. This sport relies on clean water to swim in, clear air to bike through and protected trails to run on.

But as I get older, I’m realizing that future athletes may not have the same opportunity as I’ve had running on protected trails in the woods and swimming in serene, clean lakes.

There’s lots we can do as athletes to protect the most pristine gym in the world (Mother Nature). Last year, I wrote about ways athletes can be greener on ActiveLifeDC.com. These recommendations included investing in a good reusable water bottle, recycling old running shoes and purchasing mindfully. Today I’m thrilled to be able to provide a recommendation for doing exactly that.

A friend of mine recently launched a new Kickstarter campaign, which combines two of my biggest passions: sustainability and fitness.

The campaign, called “Cause I Run,” is raising funds to launch a new activewear brand that’s not only made ethically and in the United States, but is also sustainable.

In addition to ensuring its products are made out of environmentally friendly material, Cause I Run also contributes 10 percent of every sale to various charities and non-profits, making a difference for people all around the globe.

Cause I Run founder Amanda Yanchury told me a bit about the new sustainable brand and campaign:

Q. Briefly tell us about the mission of the Kickstarter campaign and Cause I Run?
A. Cause I Run is sustainable activewear that gives back. We’ve got the business plan, the supply chain set up, and successful prototypes. Now, we just need help raising funds to pay for the first production round–that’s where the Kickstarter campaign comes in!

Q. What sparked the idea for the new enterprise?
A. We see products that give back all the time in other areas: shoes, eyeglasses, etc. To me, it seems as though my fellow runners–many of them raising thousands of dollars for charity year after year–would also like to purchase gear that does some good for the world. I started asking questions: Can we do activewear this way? Is it possible to make high-quality running apparel that uses recycled materials? Can I do all of this in the United States? I think the answer to these questions is ‘yes!’

Q. What’s the difference between the material used by Cause I Run and other activewear?
A. Our fabrics are easier on the environment without sacrificing high performance-level quality. Our tank-top is made from 100 percent recycled polyester. Our other two pieces are a blend of RPET and spandex. RPET is a polyester (with the same properties as any polyester garment you’d typically wear on a run), that’s produced from discarded plastic bottles. It reduces the waste that would otherwise pile up in landfills. One pair of our pants reuses between 18-27 plastic bottles! The fabrics are mid- to heavy-weight and suitable for three seasons. They’re a wicking material and are even treated with a natural odor-reducing property.

Q. Can you tell us more about the charities runners will be helping by purchasing activewear from Cause I Run?
A. The charities range from healthcare services to supporting women’s involvement in running and sports in unsafe regions, to economic assistance. Email subscribers should watch their inboxes for the announcement of our first charity partner very soon! We’re dedicated to choosing charities that make a sustainable impact for the community they serve. For future lines, we’ll be developing a system where organizations can apply to become a partner, and where repeat customers have a voice in choosing which ones will allow us to make the most impact.

FTR1(©Free to Run)

Q. After the Kickstarter campaign, does Cause I Run have any immediate and/or future plans to roll out other products?
A. Launching the web store with these first three pieces is our immediate priority, but after that we’ll go right into pre-production on our next line. In the works right now is a long-sleeve shirt with a detachable wrist opening for a GPS watch (many of them now have heart rate monitors built in, so they can’t be worn over clothing). We’ll also be producing our first men’s item(s) as well as introducing comfortable, organic cotton athleisure items. We value inclusivity, so we hope that we launch strongly enough to propel us into a place where can expand to maternity, plus size and more.

Q. Are there any other actions Cause I Run is taking toward sustainability?
A. We do sustainability two ways: in what we wear, and how we give. It’s important that we’re considering every step of our production process–our packaging, for example, will all be recycled (and recyclable). And like I alluded to above, we’re also committed to sustainability in our giving. So often, social enterprises mean well, but they end up dropping off a bunch of stuff that communities may not need. I want to work with charities that involve the people they’re serving into their mission, who listen and incorporate the assistance needed to make a lasting–sustainable–impact.

Q.Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A. I’m really looking forward to bringing people into this process and creating a better option for runners everywhere who care about people and the planet. Pre-orders are open through May 21. Please share far and wide!

Click here to learn more about the Kickstarter campaign that will help launch the first production of Cause I Run activewear. I’m eager to try on the three-piece set (running tank + calf-length leggings + low-impact sports bra) I pre-ordered, so I’m crossing my fingers for a successful Kickstarter campaign!  


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