Your Guide To Sustainable Lingerie

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 months ago | Features

Image: the Natural Bra by Pansy. Image source.

Sometimes lingerie gets left behind in the conversation around ethical fashion, but it is actually one of the most important areas. Underwear is essentially universal – we all need to wear it. And it is also the garment category that relates to our bodies most, given that it sits directly against our skin (which is known to absorb whatever it touches) and is worn in close contact with our reproductive organs. A lot of underwear today is made from conventional cotton – which has been known to negatively impact women's health – or synthetic fibres – which shed microfibres that can clog up our waterways. Which is why we love sustainable lingerie as an all-natural alternative.

But there are lots of different kinds of sustainable lingerie options out there. So here we're running through some of the key sustainable fabrics that work well for bras and knickers – like organic cotton, Modal, and bamboo. We're discussing the benefits of each one and why we believe that they deserve a place in everyone's underwear drawer. Better for the planet and for our health, these fibres are also built to last – which means that they look good and are good too. 

1) Organic cotton

Image: the Pansy Bra and Brief in Avocado.

According to the Cotton Advisory Committee (CAC), conventional cotton still represents as much as 5% of all pesticides and 14% of all insecticides use globally. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is grown using methods and materials that have a low environmental impact. Designed to reduce the use of toxic pesticides and fertilisers commonly used in conventional cotton production, this approach also helps to replenish soil fertility and maintain biodiversity, rather than stripping the earth of these qualities. There are strict standards regulating organic cotton classification, but while it is certainly more sustainable than conventional cotton, organic cotton can still be water and resource-intensive, due to the nature of the crop. Which is why it's important to choose well-made organic cotton lingerie that is built to last.

LA-based brand, Pansy, for example, makes organic cotton lingerie that you can hold onto for many years to come. Their organic cotton is fully traceable – grown in Texas and milled in North Carolina – and is dyed using non-toxic fibre-reactive dyes in a factory in California. As Pansy’s Laura Schoorl points out: “Most women can feel the difference on their skin!”

2) Modal

Image: the Full Cup Bra and High Waisted Brief in White.

Pioneered by Austrian company Lenzing – which you may know from Tencel – Modal is a semi-synthetic cellulose fibre that is made by spinning reconstituted cellulose, usually from sustainably harvested beech trees. Why beech trees? Because, as Lenzing explains, “the way that beech trees grow is something truly special. They multiply by ‘rejuvenation’ which means that the trees propagate by themselves.” When grown using sustainable harvesting methods, the wood from this tree is  much less thirsty than cotton, because it requires no artificial irrigation or planting.

Modal is also an incredibly soft fibre, which means that it feels good against the skin. Nico's sustainable lingerie, for example, is made from a super soft Modal blend, which is comprised of 96% certified Lenzing Modal. This is produced exclusively using Beechwood from sustainable forestry plantations. So it is good for the planet and for your wardrobe.

3) Bamboo

Image: the Leo High Cut Bra and Lena High Waist Undies in Pumpkin. 

Bamboo is another key sustainable fabric. This fibre is very fast-growing, renewable and easy-to-grow. Unlike conventional cotton, bamboo requires little irrigation and is grown without pesticides or chemical fertilisers. Not only does it grow in a wide range of environments, but it can also help to prevent soil erosion – which is great for biodiversity. 

HARA's sustainable lingerie, for example, is crafted from organic bamboo fabric and dyed using natural plant dyes, to ensure top quality and to avoid any chemicals from being absorbed into your skin. "We only source our bamboo fabrics from suppliers that can provide organic certifications for the growing of the raw bamboo and OEKO-TEX 100 certifications, which proves that no harmful chemicals were used throughout the various stages of the process and no harmful chemicals are present at all on the final product," says Hara founder Allie Cameron. Which means that you can feel safe and ~secure~ when wearing sustainable lingerie.

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