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.
- Thought Clothing offer undies for men & women from bamboo, which is naturally anti-bacterial and biodegradable. Industrial bamboo should come from panda habitats.
- Boody also offers bamboo underwear for men and women (including bras). The range features streamlined shapes, ultra-soft fabrics and a flattering fit.
- Y.O.U. Underwear is made from organic cotton and made to Fair Trade standards. They donate two pairs for every pair you purchase.
- There are at least 2 brands of bamboo socks that help the homeless. Again, for each pair you buy, they donate a pair to someone living on the streets.
- 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.
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).
- Sloanie (above) makes bras from wood! The company has ditched underwire and instead use two layers of TENCEL, a fabric made from wood, keeping the adjustasble shoulder straps and hook/eye closures for good fit. The company also makes briefs, and everything is sent in sustainable packaging.
- Boody offers organic bamboo undies for men and women, all certified by EcoCert and in sustainable packaging. There are knickers and bras and boxer shorts, plus socks and activwear, along with baby clothing.
- 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!
Should you donate undies to developing countries? It’s a difficult one, because Africa has huge issues with landfill waste. If the undies you donate don’t biodegrade, this may create more problems. The answer would appear to keep things local. For instance, instead of sending free disposable tampons to Africa, Afripads is a local social enterprise that employs people to make biodegradable pads made from local plant-based materials..