Shopping for eco friendly underwear is a challenge. Finding comfortable yet sustainable fabric isn’t easy. And with so much greenwashing in the fashion industry, it’s hard to know which brands to trust. If you’re tired of searching for the best sustainable underwear, this guide is for you!
As you’ve probably discovered, most mainstream clothing brands use plastic and other non-organic materials in their designs, especially where elastics are involved. These materials decompose very slowly–about 30 years in the case of nylon.
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. By choosing organic, long lasting underwear made with biodegradable textiles, you can combat global waste and show your support for eco-conscious companies.
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What does “eco friendly underwear” actually mean?
There are several features to look for in the best eco friendly underwear, and you’ll find all of them them in the brands recommended here.
One of the ultimate enemies of sustainable underwear is synthetic material (i.e. not found in nature). Substances like polyester and nylon degrade much more slowly than naturally occurring ones like cotton and wool.
While even the best eco friendly undergarments have small amounts of synthetics in the waistbands, they use up to 99% less than mainstream brands. And in those cases, many brands use recycled nylon and other upcycled materials to avoid creating new plastic.
In keeping with zero waste principles, you can cut off the bands and compost the rest of the fabric once your underwear reaches the end of its life.
Ethical underwear manufacturers aren’t just worried about waste: they care about the planet and its people. From using sustainable methods for gathering materials to ensuring workers are receiving a fair wage, ethical fashion brands look at the full life cycle of a garment (instead of caring only about profit).
Many undergarments are made to wear out quickly so that you’ll buy more. Companies that make the best eco friendly underwear recognise that longevity is a good thing, so their products will be able to be washed and worn again and again for much longer. It’s slow fashion vs fast fashion in action.
Why is bamboo underwear not sustainable?
Bamboo is an incredibly sustainable and versatile material in general. However, while it used to be touted as one of the best materials for sustainable underwear, the process of making bamboo fabric is not very environmentally friendly.
In order to turn bamboo into a fabric, it is first pulverized into a pulp. Using a chemical process, this wet pulp is then turned into a material called bamboo viscose.
During processing, the pulp passes through chambers containing highly toxic chemicals including sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide. These chemicals are hazardous to the environment and negatively impact animals, factory workers, water, and even the air we breathe.
Long story short, you’re much better off with fabrics like organic cotton, which doesn’t need the harsh processing to become usable.
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Best Eco Friendly Underwear Brands
Think ethical fashion is bland and basic? Think again! Anyone looking for sexy eco friendly underwear will love Only Hearts.
Started by Helena Stuart in 1978, this sustainable brand is dedicated to making cute, comfy lingerie that makes you feel good about your body and your environmental impact. As a woman owned business, Only Hearts is also committed to female empowerment and happiness.
Only Hearts has two lines that are exceptionally eco friendly. Their organic cotton line is made from 100% bleach free GOTS Peruvian Pima cotton. The second collection is their recycled eco-friendly lace lingerie, which is made using 88% reclaimed nylon that is Global Recycled Standard certified.
For all of their products, the company only uses dyes that are approved by the Ecological and Toxicological Association of Dyes (ETAD). Their materials are all ethically sourced, and every product is made in New York City.
TomboyX makes inclusive comfy, durable, and sustainable underwear for everyone. Their slogan is “underwear for all” and reflects their belief that everyone should feel comfortable in their own bodies.
You can find sizes ranging from 4S-4X across their site. They’ve even added 6X on several items.
This ethical underwear is made using some of the most eco friendly fabrics on the planet, including Oeko-Tex 100 Certified cotton, MicroModal (an eco-friendly renewable fabric made of Beechwood fiber), and TENCEL™ Modal.
TomboyX only work with women-owned fair wage factories in China, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, and they visit regularly to ensure their high standards are kept up. They’re also working towards being a carbon neutral company, and a lifecycle program for their products.
You can feel sexy and free with Knickey’s lightweight organic underwear. They’re incredibly breathable so you won’t even notice you’re wearing underwear! Plus, you’ll never have to worry about odors or chafing no matter how active you are.
Knickey is made with 95% GOTS Certified Organic Cotton grown without genetically modified seeds, toxic pesticides, or harmful fertilizers and 5% Elastane For Stretch. Lastly they are dyed and finished with Oeko-Tex Certified materials. Knickey’s whole production process is organic, and every company they work with must be certified organic and meet their demanding standards.
Because Knickey is committed to the planet, they even have a recycling program for old underwear (even ones that aren’t Knickey brand) to avoid them winding up in landfills. Just send them into Knickey and they’ll be recycled and reused for secondary textiles such as insulation.
Cosabella is a fan favorite in the sustainable fashion world. Established in Italy by husband and wife duo Valeria and Ugo Campello in 1983, their brand cares about quality, comfort, and inclusivity.
As a family owned and operated business, it’s no surprise that Cosabella works closely with local family-run workshops, ensuring all their products are handmade by local artisans, and using Renaissance-era techniques.
Just like you’d expect from Italian fashion, Cosabella’s underwear are beautiful, elegant, and anything but drab.In fact, their designs come in over 100 different hues! And fun fact: their all-natural dyes are made using water straight from the Alps.
ilovebad Organics makes their ultra comfy eco friendly underwear with a combo of fair trade organic cotton, hemp, and low impact dyes–all of which are vegan-friendly. The hemp makes the underwear super durable, while the cotton keeps the fabric soft and breathable.
The southern California company donates 10% of all their proceeds to three different charities that work to improve the lives of people and animals living in California and Mexico.
Athletes and exercise enthusiasts: this brand is for you!
DANISH ENDURANCE is a family-run Danish company that only uses high quality, sustainable resources to make durable products for people who love to move. In fact, they work with olympic athletes to ensure their products are the best they can be for people on the go. This means that not only are their long lasting, but breathable, odor resistant, and easy to move in.
I recommend their organic cotton undies, and their incredibly comfy hipsters made from recycled materials. Many of the brands on this list focus on women’s ethical underwear, but DANISH ENDURANCE also caters to men, and I’ve been told the men’s Oeko-Tek boxer shorts are a must-buy.
Felina has managed to combine two of the best aspects of clothing: eco friendly underwear that’s also incredibly soft and smooth. This is due to their Modal fabric–a fibre woven from the reconstituted cellulose of beech trees. It results in organic underwear that’s comfortable yet non-toxic and carbon neutral.
Additionally, Felina’s Modal fibre acts as a complete substitute for cotton. Put simply, their Modal range uses less land and less water than cotton would to manufacture their more sustainable underwear.
Add to the fact that one of Felina’s objectives in their mission statement is to create products that stand the test of time, and altogether they make a fantastic choice for low impact undergarments.
You may have guessed from the name, but Cottonique’s main draw is their 100% cotton ethos.
All their cotton is gathered from organic farms certified by the Global Organic Textile Standards. They also have a patented technique that stabilizes their fabric using just heat and water, which means no chemicals are involved and their products are softer as a result.
Cottonique are also very vocal about catering to those with allergies. Because they use exclusively cotton, their hypoallergenic clothing can be worn by more people worldwide, making the best eco friendly underwear more accessible.
Another Danish company committed to helping the planet! Underprotection’s elegant and ethical underwear is made from natural fibers like organic cotton, upcycled materials, and TENCEL. And they have styles made to fit all body types and sizes.
All of Underprotection’s products are made in factories that ensure a fair wage and safe working conditions. They are a Certified B Corp, and only work with suppliers who have at least one of the following certifications: WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production), Sedex, GOTS, or BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative).
To top it all off, all of their products ship in upcycled and recyclable packaging.
With sleek, simple designs and an unwavering commitment to sustainability, Organic Basics is a leader in simple, ethical fashion. This Copenhagen-based company uses recycled fabrics, TENCEL, organic cotton, and other low impact materials to create not only the best eco friendly underwear, but casual wear as well.
There’s a lot going on at Organic Basics in terms of their sustainability projects. For starters they only work with factories and partners that share their sustainable goals, and who treat their employees fairly in regards to wages and support. On top of this, they are also closely involved in several global environmental projects.
The first of these is their Organic Basics Fund, where a portion of their profits are regularly donated to grassroots activists and organizations that fight climate change and protect vulnerable communities. The second is their Regenerative Cotton Pilot Project, which aims to change agriculture practices so that they are more sustainable and produce less carbon emissions by rebuilding healthy soil which draws carbon from the atmosphere.
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