While scattered showers have tried to dampen warm weather exuberance, springtime has undeniably arrived, and with it, a call to return to the great outdoors for a dose of healthy competition. Kids flood outside to participate in extracurricular activities in the warm sunshine, and adult leagues swing back into action, capitalizing on the longer daylight hours. Even traditional fall and winter sports, like football, soccer, and basketball, get revived without oppressive winter weather weighing down players’ spirits. Before you get caught up in the excitement of flushed cheeks and surging adrenaline, make your sport of choice cruelty-free by replacing sporting goods with vegan alternatives.
For avid baseball fans, springtime means one thing: the return to the dugout. By switching to vegan alternatives, ball players don’t have to worry about their performance suffering in the outfield. Major League players such as Roger Clemens, Chris Carpenter, and Johan Santana all made the switch to synthetic baseball mitts. In the past, vinyl was used in place of leather, but today’s vegan gloves are made using synthetic leather microfibers that result in stronger and lighter gloves. Carpenter Trade Company specializes in high quality, customizable vegan gloves, with the option of all-synthetic wool instead of wool felt for padding. Its gloves outperform leather competitors and tend to last longer, so the durability of your mitt is last thing you’ll have to worry about when catching a pop-up.
Basketball season is wrapping up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cheer for cruelty-free change. The college teams you were clapping and yelling for during NCAA March Madness all began using animal-free basketballs back in 2003, and the NBA gave up leather in 2006. So what are you waiting for? Follow suit by bringing a rubber—not leather—ball to the court, which has the added advantage of reducing slippage caused by sweat. Fair Trade Sports produces an eco- and fair trade-certified rubber ball that also boasts an all-weather, high-grip surface.
Football, Soccer, & Rugby
The saying may be “throw around the ol’ pigskin,” but animals don’t need to suffer for a game of touch football. The same goes for sports like soccer and rugby, where animal products have traditionally been used. Fair Trade Sports also sells vegan footballs and rugby balls, as well as several different varieties of animal-free soccer balls. As an added bonus, the company emphasizes reduced environmental impact and sustainable practices. In addition, products are made by adult workers, who are guaranteed a certified Fair-Trade wage and healthy working conditions. The result is eco-friendly equipment that no animal—or human—had to suffer to produce.
Even indoor sports like dance can benefit from a vegan makeover. While almost all dance shoes are traditionally made of leather, many companies offer canvas alternatives and are willing to custom-make cruelty-free dancewear. Capezio and Russian dancewear company Grishko both customize pointe and ballet shoes, but be careful to clarify that the shoes be leather- and suede-free when ordering.
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