Plastic is where? Underwear and everywhere!
Most underwear is made from polyester. This common synthetic plastic is terrible for the environment for a number of reasons, but let’s start with the science: polyester is made from polyethylene terephthalate, which is essentially PET plastic, woven into fabric. This material is made from the chemicals ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid, which are made from coal, air, water, and petroleum. These fossil fuels, as we know, release incredibly harmful pollution into the atmosphere when they’re burned.
On top of that, the polyester can’t be recycled and isn’t biodegradable. This means that every year, tons upon tons of polyester underwear is added to landfills, where it will sit for hundreds of years emitting pollutants, or be burned and release dangerous chemicals.
Not only is it bad for the environment, but it’s also bad for you.
According to a study in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology that looked into underwear and health, “one of the factors associated with vaginal yeast infections is wearing underwear made from synthetic fabrics, which doesn’t ‘breathe’ and thus keeps the genital area warm and moist, perfect conditions for the growth of yeast.”
If you don’t like the sound of that, WebMD advises that you should “Wear breathable underwear. Cotton is your best choice. It doesn’t hold onto heat or moisture. It will help keep you dry.”
So, switching to plastic-free underwear is better all around.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of underwear brands that market themselves as “eco-friendly”, but their products still contain plastic, because they use elastane in the elastic band to keep the underwear tight. It’s somewhat of a challenge to replace this plastic with something better, but it is possible, and some brands are proving it.
Similarly, you should be aware of brands that advertise their underwear as eco-friendly because their garments are made from recycled plastics. I personally don’t believe that recycled plastic should be used in clothing when it could be put into products that have a long-term use and that don’t touch our bodies.
Thankfully, there are some great underwear options out there from brands that are far more environmentally-friendly, and totally plastic-free.
These range from zero plastic (like the first four entries on this list), to using recycled plastics in a way which is as sustainable as possible.
If you’re in the market for new eco-friendly underwear, here are my picks of the best places to shop.
Here are my 5 favorite eco-friendly underwear brands!
Rawganique’s underwear is naturally organic, which is better for the planet and for your body. Its wide range of underwear styles are made from natural fibres and are simple and understated, which make them perfect everyday undies.
This underwear is made in the USA from 100% organic cotton and hemp, which are naturally breathable fabrics that don’t retain moisture or odors. Plus, this fabric is also not processed with harsh chemicals, which makes it kind to even the most sensitive of skin, in your most delicate areas. Go for the brand’s elastic-free 100% organic cotton boy shorts for a super comfortable daily option that is also proudly plastic-free.
Check out Rawganique
Made from 100% natural cotton, the brand’s drawstring boxer shorts and drawstring boxer briefs have a non-elastic waist, with an adjustable 100% cotton braided drawstring, for a perfect fit and zero latex, spandex, or plastic involved.
I’m a big fan of the natural colors of the designs, too – their neutral tones are perfect to ensure your underwear will go unseen under your clothes, while also keeping them free from any harsh color chemicals or synthetics. Plus, it makes the designs elegant and timeless.
These all-purpose everyday undies do use elastic in the waist for a comfortable fit, but in this case, it’s sustainable: the elastic and sewing threads used in them are Cradle 2 Cradle gold certified, and the labeling is pad-print using OEKO TEX inks. This all means that they’re fully compostable and will actually break down in nature, so you can enjoy them without worrying about contributing to landfill later down the line.
Check out the Very Good Bra
Hailing from Germany, these undies are made from all-natural hemp fibres, which are totally undyed and vegan in their production. Plus, they’re still designed to have a great, stretchy fit, thanks to their natural rubber waistband. Hemp has the added natural benefits of being soft on the skin, keeping skin cool even in summer, and taking moisture away from the skin – which makes these a great option to wear during sports, too. The brand makes panties, briefs, and hot pants in many great colors.
Images by BEWUSST
This innovative brand makes cute lingerie from fabric deadstock and offcuts – which saves it from going to landfill and contributing to the tons of wastage which would otherwise be created by it. Not only is it sustainable, but it’s full of showstopping lingerie designs: think bright colored underwear, in a range of sexy mesh designs and cuts that will have you feeling your best self. We also love that its available in a wide range of sizes, with designs in UK sizes 6 through to 16.
Check out Lara Intimates
Disclosure: Please note that some of the above links are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I would never recommend anything I don’t personally love and the income goes towards keeping this site running and free to everyone.