Your undies may not give you much thought: a quick trip to M & S every few months, and be done with it. But most undies contain polyester that does not biodegrade. Organic cotton and hemp undies are better, though more difficult to find. They may cost a little more, but as the fibres have not been treated with chemicals, they last longer through several washes. If you wash synthetic underwear, use a Guppyfriend that collects microplastics, to stop them going in the ocean. Also read where to find a greener pair of socks.
- Boody also offers bamboo underwear for men and women (including bras). The range features streamlined shapes, ultra-soft fabrics and a flattering fit.
- Thought Clothing offer undies for men & women from bamboo, which is naturally anti-bacterial and biodegradable. Industrial bamboo should come from panda habitats.
- You Underwear (Oxford) makes organic cotton Fair Trade undies, and donates two pairs, for each pair you purchase. Founded by a woman who was shocked while volunteering in Uganda, that women don’t have access to undies. Most designs are neutral for men and women and children, but there is also the more colourful Mara Collection, an African-inspired collection to bring vibrancy, style and sustainability and inspired by the beadword made by Masai women in Kenya. The range includes no internal labels and smooth look (for no visible panty line) in various leg styles in shrink-resistant and pre-washed fabric. Each pair has a positive messge hidden inside, and is delivered in a reusable organic cotton bag.
- Sustainable Stockings is a Swedish company that offers free shipping to send you their hosiery. The difference is they are made from recycled nylon, and when you get a ladder, you simply send them back, and they are recycled into more pairs to send out.
- Thunderpants makes undies in the UK from Fair Trade Indian organic cotton and also sends in zero waste packaging. In fun designs, choose from Original (sits just below the belly button for no seams with dresses and tights or leggings, or Hipster for denim and low-waisted trousers. They have camis, crop tops, boxers and kids undies in the pipe line.
- Magi the Label includes briefs and bralettes from hemp, recommended by the founder’s gynecologist. The fairly made items are sent in compostable packaging. Years ago, magis only (Azerbaijani priests) were allowed to wear hemp as it was considered sacred and it’s also the name of a Chinese goddess who wears hemp (fittingly, a symbolic protector of females).
Organic Basics (Denmark) is one of the world’s leading organic cotton undies brand, sold in the UK. Some items contain silver, a natural antibacterial to keep undies fresh. That doesn’t mean not washing them (but they last longer with frequent washes).
Zero Waste Bras
You shouldn’t need a degree in maths, to measure for a bra. In simple terms, measure under boobs (band). Then full boob (cup). Subtract the band from cup size. The cup is the 1-inch difference (1 inch is A, 2 inches is B, 3 inches is C etc). So if you have a 34 rib and 36 cup, subtract 34 from 36. So your size is 36 B (36 full boob size, with a 2-inch difference = B cup).
- The Very Good Bra is the world’s first zero waste bra. Sent in compostable packaging, it fits 27 sizes and has no underwire, and is free from spandex, polyester labels, synthetic elastic or anything not biodegradable. In fact, they proved it by having worms eat their bras in 8 weeks!
- Sloanie makes bras from wood! The company has ditched underwire and instead use two layers of TENCEL, a fabric made from wood, keeping the adjustable shoulder straps and hook/eye closures for good fit. The company also makes briefs, and everything is sent in sustainable packaging.
What Undies Should You Choose?
- A thong is not loved by everyone and not the most comfortable. But it has no visible panty line and therefore good under a tight dress.
- Bikini is a good everyday style with a low hip and higher cut on the legs, goes with nearly every outfit.
- Hipsters have low rise bottoms and a bit like a bikini boyshort, with a bit more coverage. Good for low rise pants and jeans. A nice flattering shape.
- High Briefs are high waited bottoms for full coverage.
The Best Fabrics for Undies
As well as the planet, cotton is the best material or hemp. The area is very sensitive and doctors say it’s best to find a breathable and absorbent material to help prevent yeast infections. Nylon and spandex trap heat and moisture and should be okay to then avoid liners that can cause chafing and irritation. Douching is not a good idea for most as it can increase irritation. You can wash by hand using Allurette washer that is a delicate version of the scrubba wash bag. Like a modern washboard, you can use it to wash your delicates without a washing machine, for the same results, so it’s ideal for travel or people who don’t have a washing machine. Don’t mix undies with others in the house