For conscious comfort, whether eco bikinis or ethical boxers, opt for sustainable underwear made from natural materials and recycled fabrics.
There isn’t a piece of clothing that’s more intimate than our undies. Unless commando is your thing, they’re the first thing we slip into and the last thing we take off. But whether you prefer classic bikini bottoms or the cozy coverage of boy shorts or boxers, it’s important to choose knickers that are as good for your bum as they are for the planet. So give your top drawer an eco-friendly makeover. For conscious comfort, we’ve got the best materials to look for, plus the best brands to shop for sustainable underwear.
Sustainable underwear materials to look for
Let’s get down to the basics. Much like other aspects of the fashion industry, the production of underwear can be a dirty business, from water pollution and waste.
“Currently, underwear generally has a very short life cycle with constant washing,” said Mads Fibiger, the founder and CEO of sustainable activewear and underwear brand Organic Basics. “The way we use underwear right now is a complete waste of resources and it is terribly damaging for the environment.”
Based in Copenhagen, the company prioritizes sustainability, eschewing seasonal collections and plastic packaging. The brand also uses eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and Tencel, a natural fiber derived from wood pulp.
When it comes to sustainability, the type of material the underwear is made with is key. Conventionally, the use of plastic-derived materials like polyester, which are not biodegradable, are commonly used to make undergarments.
Instead, opt for certified natural materials like hemp, organic cotton, and bamboo. Similar to Tencel, semi-synthetic materials like modal, which is made from beech tree pulp, also make a great choice. And opt for plant-based dyes, which are generally far less toxic than their synthetic counterparts.
The ultimate guide to sustainable underwear
From comfy panties and sexy lingerie to boxers and briefs, here are the best brands to shop for sustainable underwear.
Responsibly sourced and ethically made, this sustainable underwear brand is approved for the planet—and your booty. The brand’s collections of men and women’s underwear are made from sustainably grown bamboo viscose. The fabric is breathable, hypoallergenic, and form-fitting, making it perfect for hugging all of your most intimate parts.
Made with organic cotton in a fair trade factory, this company’s knickers are just as great for your derrière as they are for the planet. In addition to bras and bralettes, the brand—which recently announced it is officially carbon neutral—carries a number of underwear options, including boxers, briefs, bikini bottoms, hipsters, and thongs.
3. Girlfriend Collective
This company believes that “good things come to those who don’t waste.” Based in Seattle, Washington, the brand ethically produces its pieces using recycled materials, including plastic bottles and fishing nets, and eco-friendly dyes. And its packaging is 100 percent recycled and recyclable.
For more organic cotton knickers, shop Knickey. Headquartered in Chelsea, New York, the company uses certified organic cotton and Oeko-Tex-certified dyes to create its undies. For the mommas-to-be, the brand launched a new maternity line featuring styles made for pregnancy and postpartum care. Not sure what to do with your old underwear? Knickey has its very own recycling program to help keep panties out of landfills.
Founded in 2012, Tentree uses a number of eco-friendly materials in its collections, including Tencel and organic cotton. With styles for both men and women, the Canadian company has everything you need to give your underwear drawer a sustainable upgrade. Customers are also able to subscribe to a monthly plan to help offset their environmental footprint. With a commitment to plant one billion trees by 2030, the company plants ten trees for every item sold.
“There’s no parade without the planet,” according to this sustainable brand. Featuring size-inclusive underwear options, the company uses 80 to 95 percent recycled materials with a goal of being 100 percent by 2023. Through its recycling program, Second Life, the brand recycles underwear from all companies and works with factories to help them transition to more eco-friendly practices.
7. Organic Basics
For intimate apparel for all genders, this brand has every underwear bottom of your fancy. The company offers an option for carbon neutral shipping and its products are ethically made. For a sheer, sexy number, get the Lite Tanga, a thong-like underwear made from Tencel. And be sure to snag the matching bralette!
Did you know there are sustainable lingerie and sleepwear options, too!