We have all been doing it - coming up with random projects to work on during lockdown to keep us occupied! Well, this is one of mine. The idea came from a combination of my t shirt blanket project (which I am still working on but will share a blog of how I made it once complete), and a panic I found myself in one evening when I couldn't find a clean sweatband before a turbo session (and anyone who has completed sweaty turbo sessions in the garage will know how crucial these are to prevent your eyes stinging when sweat begins to go in them.. gross). So this is a way I could make more sweatbands using old t-shirts that weren't going into the blanket!
Step 1 - Supplies
You will need the following:
Step 2 - cut your fabric
Take your t-shirt and cut out 5 strips about 5cm wide and 90cm long. It is better to be slightly longer than too short, as you can always cut it shorter at the end.
You don't need to be too precious about neatness - they don't need to be perfect straight lines as they will eventually be within the braid.
Step 3 - Sew the PIECES together
Place all of your 5 pieces on top of each other and sew them all together about 2.5cm in from the end. This will eventually be hidden, so again you don't need to be super neat.
Step 4 - Braid the pieces
Firstly using a weight of some kind, temporarily secure your pieces to the table (I used a couple of stone coasters).
Now onto the braiding - this isn't your standard 3 piece plait so might take a bit of time to get right.
Imagine that the pieces are labelled 1-5 from left to right....
Now repeat the pattern above with the remaining pieces until the full length of the pieces are braided. Make sure you pull it all tight from the very beginning otherwise it won't work very well.
Keeping tightly hold of the lose end, just check the length around your head. If it is a little tight, don't panic it will stretch. If it is too big, unravel the braid to just under the desired length.
Step 5 - sew ends
Once you have your desired length of braided fabric, sew the other end about 0.5cm away from the edge of the braiding, to keep the braid from unraveling. Trim off any excess fabric but leaving enough to allow you to sew the end together.
Now take the two sewn ends and sew them together. Again, this will eventually hidden so it doesn't need to be super neat.
Step 6 - add cover
Firstly, cut a 5cm by 20cm strip of the same fabric.
Wrap this strip around the seams tightly, finishing with the end of the strip on the inside of the headband.
Finally, sew the fabric strip closed.
Step 7 - wear!
Let me know if you make your own versions of this! I might attempt a multi-coloured one next time!
A lot of people don’t go out of their way to be sustainable because they think that the changes are expensive and require specialty products. But, the truth is there are easy and affordable swaps you can make. It is NOT difficult or expensive to be eco-friendly. It just takes a lifestyle change, breaking old habits and practice. Here are a few changes that I have incorporated into my life, that I think many fellow athletes (and none athletes) could replicate very easily. All small changes, but like the star-fish story, we can all make a difference.
1. Packaged foods > homemade snacks
Nothing makes you feel like a winner more than getting in a swim before work starts. But if you follow that up with a (plastic) pot of bircher muesli eaten with a (plastic) disposable spoon, it rather takes the shine off. Instead, try to make your smoothie or oats at home and bring them in tupperware. Be organised and prep it the night before, so tomorrow you’re all set.
Also, try making your own energy bars to limit plastic wrapping waste. A great recipe book I have recently purchased is ‘Feed Zone Portables’, a cookbook for ‘on the go athletes’, which contains lots of great but simple recipes for pre, mid and post training portable snacks.
2. Cling film > beeswax wraps
Athletes are renowned for being constantly hungry, so one of my eco-friendly staples is beeswax wraps to keep snacks fresh in your bag but without the waste. The wraps are a great alternative to using cling film (1 roll takes 1,000 years to decompose!) and can be reused over and over again. They are also a great way to transport snacks without the need for bulky tupperware tubs – perfect if you have space constraints in your kit/gym bags! They have a natural adhesive that seals under the warmth of your hands, and are wash clean.
If you’re really creative you can actually make your own. Or these are my favourites - Abeego Beeswax Food Wrap - Variety Pack
3. Single-use plastic > reusable water bottle
Currently we buy 1 million plastic bottles worldwide every minute, with a single plastic bottle taking 450 years to decompose. By 2050, it’s thought that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, so swopping to a reusable water bottle is a no-brainer! Eliminating single-use plastic from your workout routine is a meaningful step that also justifies buying one of the cool new styles out there right now – I am currently using Sundried’s BPA-free reusable water bottle which is leak-proof and chemical-free.
4. Disposable coffee cup > reusable coffee cup
We all now athletes love their caffeine, but did you know that because of the wax coating, your takeaway coffee cup cannot easily be recycled despite being made of paper. Almost all of them are incinerated, exported or sent to landfill because their plastic lining makes them costly to recycle.
Lots of coffee shops now give you a small discount if you bring your own cup, so get your own reusable cup and help cut down on this needless waste. I have a handy collapsible Stojo Pocket Cup, which perfect when you’re on the go as it fits neatly into your bag. The Sundried reusable coffee cup is double-walled so your hot drink doesn't get cold or burn your hands when you're holding it. It also has a leak-proof mouthpiece making it perfect for commuting too.
There really is no excuse for single use!
5. Sustainable clothing
Did you know that the production of cotton for fast fashion is the second worst industry in the world for damaging the planet next to oil mining? At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles, 25% of the world's pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton and it is estimated that in the UK alone around 350,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill every year! Brands are now proving that it is possible to create sustainable, ethical clothing without damaging the planet so look out for these when your purchasing your next round of workout clothing.
My two workout staples are Sundried’s Piz Fora training vest which is made from recycled plastic water bottles (how cool!) and Eco Tech® top made from eco-friendly biodegradable material which decomposes in a landfill within 3 years (and is super soft!).
6. Aerosols > natural deodorant stick
Another must for any athlete or gym goer is some form of deodorant to keep fresh smelling. I found Your Nature natural deodorant sticks at a local eco-festival and was quite sceptical at first as I didn’t think it would stand up to its normal supermarket deodorant rivals. However, I was pleasantly surprised and have been using it ever since. Even after heavy training sessions I am still fresh! This particular brand is vegan friendly, plastic free, 100% natural, free from toxins and aluminium, plus the sandalwood and bergamot scent is lovely! It may seem more expensive, but I am still currently on my first stick 3 months after purchasing!
7. Disposable shampoo bottles > shampoo bar and cork pot
Frequent training often means frequent hair washing, particularly for us ladies. So another way to reduce unnecessary plastic waste is to switch to shampoo and soap bars. I have fairly sensitive dry hair so found the Jason and Argon Oil shampoo bars from Lush left my hair feeling soft. Another benefit is you can get a handy cork pot, which are 100% natural and biodegradable, allow you to transport your bar without any mess!