Amid a growing nature crisis, every decision we make as consumers plays a role in shaping the future of our planet. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, each choice can either contribute to environmental degradation or support sustainability efforts. While it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering eco-friendly decisions, even our underwear can significantly impact the environment.

According to the World Economic Forum, the fashion industry is one of the most significant contributors to environmental pollution and resource depletion. From the production of raw materials to the disposal of clothing items, every step of the supply chain leaves a footprint on the planet. 

However, with the emerging ethical and sustainable fashion movement, consumers are empowered to make more conscious choices, extending even to their most intimate garments. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of eco-friendly underwear and highlight nine labels that are leading the way in sustainability. From innovative materials to ethical production practices, these brands are proving that comfort and style don’t have to come at the expense of the environment.

We’ll also look at the common materials used in undergarment production, their environmental impact, and why you should consider opting for eco-friendly alternatives. We’ll also provide tips to find the best eco-friendly underwear for your needs. 

Key Takeaways

  • Most conventional underwears are made from resource-intensive materials, contributing to environmental degradation.
  • Choosing eco-friendly underwear is a significant step in embracing a lifestyle that respects the planet and people.
  • Choose underwear made from organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, or other sustainable fabrics to reduce your environmental impact.
  • When looking for eco-friendly underwear brands, consider certifications like GOTS or OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 to ensure their product meets strict environmental and social criteria.
  • Prioritize transparency and ethical production practices when selecting underwear brands.
  • Consider other factors like quality and comfort, long-term savings, and reduced environmental impact to make sustainable choices that align with your values.

9 Eco-Friendly and Ethical Underwear Labels

1. Pact 

Pact is a leading brand in the sustainable fashion industry, offering a wide range of underwear made from certified organic cotton, including boxers, trunks, bikini briefs, and tights. Its garments are GOTS-certified, ensuring they meet strict environmental and social criteria throughout production. In addition, its organic cotton cultivation helps preserve soil health and biodiversity. At the same time, their chemical-free production processes minimize environmental pollution and use 62% less energy compared to their non-organic counterparts.

Pact’s Everyday Underwear Collection for women has gained a loyal following for its exceptional, ethical comfort and quality. The secret behind their popularity lies in soft, breathable organic cotton, ensuring each piece feels wonderfully comfortable against the skin.

For men, Pact’s boxers and brief collection also make a solid impression. Offering equal levels of comfort, this range is so cozy it’s often likened to feeling as free as going commando. Pact’s commitment to using sustainable materials means that not only do these garments feel good, but they also do good for the planet.

Pact prioritizes transparency and ethical practices, making them a favorite among eco-conscious consumers. Their commitment to sustainability extends beyond their products to include fair labor practices and support for environmentally responsible initiatives.

2. Organic Basics

Organic Basics is committed to creating underwear and basics that are both comfortable and eco-friendly. Their products are made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton, TENCEL™, and recycled nylon. 

Customers can pick from the brand’s extensive collection of ethically made tops and bottoms in various colors and designs. Their Flex Shorty for women consistently receives a high rating for its excellent cut and coverage, ensuring a fit that flatters just right.  Meanwhile, their Core Boxers, made from wood pulp, are a hit among men for their simple yet effective design, fitted look, and comfortable elastic waistband. 

With a focus on durability and timeless design, Organic Basics encourages consumers to invest in high-quality pieces that will last for years. 

The brand’s dedication to sustainability extends to its supply chain, prioritizing ethical production practices and fair labor standards. The brand ensures that every step, from the extraction of raw materials to transportation, is conducted with low carbon emissions in mind.

In addition, Organic Basics diligently selects manufacturing partners with up-to-date certifications in labor practices and sustainability. This rigorous selection process guarantees that all items are produced under fair, safe, and environmentally friendly conditions.

But Organic Basics’ dedication doesn’t stop at manufacturing. The company also pledges 1% of every sale to support local charities helping in critical areas such as Nature Conservation, Ocean Conservation, Rewilding, Sustainability, and Gender Equity. Through this initiative, customers become part of a more significant movement towards positively impacting the planet and society with every purchase they make from Organic Basics.

3. Boody

Boody specializes in underwear made from bamboo, a fast-growing and renewable resource. Bamboo fabric is known for its softness, breathability, and moisture-wicking properties, making it an ideal choice for intimate wear. Boody’s garments are also OEKO-TEX certified, guaranteeing that they are free from harmful chemicals. 

Boody is renowned for its commitment to simplicity and sustainability, offering classic designs that suit everyday wear. Its range is also inclusive and considered, catering to women, men, and babies.

The LYOLYTE® collection stands out for its innovation and comfort. The unique name combines “Lyo,” referencing the eco-friendly Lyocell process used to craft the fabric, with “Lyte” to emphasize the material’s remarkable lightness. This line promises underwear that is not just ultra-smooth and durable but also wireless and seam-free, catering to those searching for supreme comfort without compromising on environmental values.

Sustainability is at the core of Boody, evident throughout its operation. The brand’s factories use state-of-the-art computer knitting machines, allowing for the production of seamless garments that significantly reduce fabric waste. Moreover, Boody opts for organically grown bamboo as its primary material, ensuring the avoidance of harmful pesticides or fertilizers.

Boody’s dedication extends beyond the environment to actively support social change. Through partnerships with organizations like Goodbye Malaria, Circle of Love Center, and Bridge of Hope San Diego, Boody contributes a portion of proceeds from sales of its sustainable and fair trade underwear and makes clothing donations to initiatives to create a better world.

4. Thunderpants

The mantra from the creators of Thunderpants, “Once you go Thundies, you’ll never go back,” perfectly captures the allure of their underwear, and it is easy to see why. The brand offers a range of comfortable and colorful underwear made from organic cotton. Its products feature fun prints and designs, adding a touch of whimsy to your underwear drawer. 

For those who prioritize comfort above all else, the Original Thunderpants are a perfect pick. These full brief undergarments are expertly designed for everyday comfort. With their high-rise yet not high-waisted cut, they gracefully accommodate curves without going too far up the waist. They strategically sit snug at the top of the leg and end just below the belly button, ensuring ample coverage without compromise.

The brand’s pouch boxers stand out as an alternative that embodies comfort and practicality. These boxers are crafted from a soft, silky bamboo mix, providing a cool and comfortable experience suited for warm, humid, or tropical climates. The design incorporates a double-layered pouch in the adult sizes, offering additional space upfront for extra comfort. This innovative approach ensures a wedge-free wearing experience, making them an excellent choice for anyone seeking ease and functionality in their undergarments.

Thunderpants is committed to ethical production practices and ensuring fair wages for workers. By supporting Thunderpants, consumers contribute to the growth of sustainable fashion and promote social responsibility within the industry.

5. WAMA Underwear

WAMA Underwear specializes in hemp underwear, harnessing the natural benefits of this versatile plant. Hemp fabric is known for its durability, breathability, and antibacterial properties, making it an excellent choice for underwear. 

WAMA offers a broad selection of underwear that promises inclusivity and variety. The brand’s range spans a vibrant palette of designs, colors, and sizes, satisfying diverse preferences and body types. The choices are plentiful for ladies, with hipsters, thongs, bikinis, boy shorts, and bralettes all on offer. Men aren’t left behind either; they have trunks, briefs, boxers, and boxer briefs to choose from.

A particular standout is the Hemp Bikini. This piece has won the hearts of many due to its flattering fit for any body shape. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, it boasts breathability and a cheeky design suitable for daily wear without any risk of slippage. Comfortable and stylish, it ensures you’re set for whatever your day might bring. 

WAMA is deeply committed to sustainability and ethics throughout its production process. This commitment shines through its choice of materials and collaborations. The brand exclusively uses organic hemp grown on small family-run farms, ensuring their environmental footprint is as minimal as possible. By choosing hemp, WAMA promotes regenerative agriculture and supports the transition to more environmentally friendly textile fibers. 

The brand also takes a stand on ethical manufacturing. It carefully selects factory partners equally committed to positively impacting their employees’ lives. Fair wages and the provision of quality working conditions characterize these partnerships. By insisting on these standards, WAMA ensures that every piece of underwear respects the planet and honors the people who make it. 

6. TomboyX

TomboyX offers underwear designed for all body types, focusing on comfort, inclusivity, and sustainability. Its products are made from eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton and recycled nylon, ensuring they are both soft and durable. 

TomboyX offers an impressive selection for those seeking ultimate comfort with a clear conscience towards the environment. Their TENCEL™ Modal collection stands out, crafted from sustainable beechwood. This fabric boasts qualities surpassing even the softest cotton, offering a sensation double the softness. Additionally, this material is adept at regulating temperature, making it an excellent choice for various climates. Beyond its remarkable comfort, the TENCEL™ Modal fabric is certified biodegradable, ensuring minimal environmental impact even after its lifecycle.

For individuals who prefer their wardrobe essentials to be straightforward yet comfortable, TomboyX’s Organic Cotton collection is indeed a perfect match. Each garment is made from OEKO-TEX-certified organic cotton, highlighting the brand’s commitment to safer environmental practices and superior quality. This choice merges texture and breathability, creating pieces that feel as good as they look.

Aside from its commitment to ethical production, the queer and women-founded TomboyX promotes diversity and body positivity. By supporting TomboyX, consumers contribute to the growth of sustainable fashion and encourage social responsibility within the industry.

7. Subset 

Subset (formerly known as Knickey) creates organic cotton underwear that is soft, breathable, and chemical-free. Their products are GOTS certified, guaranteeing they are made with the highest organic and sustainable production standards. 

Subset has curated a collection of undergarments that genuinely cater to various preferences, ensuring everyone can find something perfect for their sustainable underwear drawer. With an array of styles, colors, coverage options, and rises, Subset makes it easy to personalize your eco-friendly choices.

A standout pairing within Subset’s lineup is the organic cotton soft bra coupled with the high-rise brief. This combination is the epitome of comfort, designed for all-day wear without any discomfort. Using organic cotton provides a softness that feels luxurious against the skin. These pieces are crafted for comfort that you might forget you’re wearing them. Whether you’re lounging at home or out and about, Subset’s organic cotton offerings ensure you do so sustainably and comfortably.

Subset embraces sustainability across its supply chain. It seeks the most environmentally responsible processes, low-impact fabrics, and ethical manufacturing. Choosing Subset means supporting organic farming practices and reducing exposure to harmful chemicals in conventional cotton production.

8. HARA the Label

HARA the Label makes underwear from bamboo and natural plant dyes. Its products are ethically made in Australia, focusing on transparency and fair labor practices. 

HARA offers a versatile bamboo undies collection that caters to every preference and need, ensuring all shoppers can find their perfect match for daily wear. If you’re seeking underwear that’s both flattering and discreet under tighter clothing like dresses or pants, the Eva G-string is an excellent choice. Designed with a hip-hugging style, it accentuates curves beautifully from every angle, providing comfort and a sleek silhouette.

For those who lean towards more comprehensive coverage without compromising on style, the Maya Low Waist Brief is an ideal option. Thoughtfully positioned on the hips and featuring a gentle rise, these briefs offer unparalleled comfort coupled with freedom of movement. They strike the perfect balance between providing mid-level bum coverage and a flattering fit around the stomach. Whether your priority is flattering form, everyday comfort, or both, HARA’s bamboo underwear range has something special just for you.

HARA is committed to creating ethical and sustainable underwear that is comfortable and high in quality. By choosing bamboo and natural dyes, HARA promotes sustainable textile production and supports local communities.

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9. MADI Apparel

MADI Apparel creates underwear focusing on sustainability, comfort, and social impact. The brand’s products are made from bamboo and organic cotton, offering a luxurious feel without compromising ethics. 

MADI Apparel is the go-to brand for those who embrace sustainable minimalism in their fashion choices. Their products are crafted with longevity in mind, becoming those cherished staple basics in your drawer that you reach for time and time again.

The brand’s bamboo bralette collection offers a variety of styles and colors, ensuring there’s something for every occasion. The Hendricks Bamboo Bralette, known for its comfort and versatility, is perfect for everyday wear but has also found a special place as a choice for bridal lingerie. On the other hand, The Mimi offers a modest bikini panty design with full-coverage bottoms and a sleek, clean front, ideal for running errands in utmost comfort.

MADI Apparel’s ethos extends beyond sustainability; it is deeply committed to social responsibility. With every purchase, the brand donates a pair of underwear to women in domestic violence shelters, making customers part of a noble cause. Through the years, the brand’s initiative has resulted in donations to over 9,000 women across more than 50 organizations in 10 countries worldwide.

Common Underwear Materials and Their Impact on the Environment

Now that we’ve looked into some of the best eco-friendly underwear labels, it’s a good idea to explore the materials commonly used in producing conventional underwear. 

Conventional underwear is often made from various materials, each with its own environmental footprint. Understanding these materials and their impacts can help you make more informed and sustainable choices.

apparel industry's environmental impact

Image Source: https://www.wri.org/insights/apparel-industrys-environmental-impact-6-graphics

    • Polyester: As a synthetic fiber derived from petroleum, polyester is another staple in underwear manufacturing. It’s durable and stretchy but has a significant environmental toll. Producing polyester involves energy-intensive processes that emit CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Moreover, polyester garments release microplastics into waterways when washed, contributing to marine pollution.

apparel industry's environmental impact

Image Source: https://www.wri.org/insights/apparel-industrys-environmental-impact-6-graphics

    • Nylon: Similar to polyester, nylon is a synthetic material that offers durability and elasticity. However, its production is not only energy-intensive but also relies on petrochemicals. Nylon’s non-biodegradable nature means it can persist in the environment long after the product’s usable life, posing challenges for waste management and contributing to plastic pollution.

    • Rayon (Viscose): Often used for its silk-like qualities, rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber made from cellulose extracted from trees. Its production involves hazardous chemicals that can pollute air and water if improperly managed. Moreover, sourcing cellulose often leads to deforestation, impacting biodiversity and carbon sequestration.

    • Bamboo: Bamboo can be an eco-friendly material due to its fast growth rate and minimal chemical need, but turning bamboo into fabric often involves heavy chemical use. However, responsibly produced bamboo textiles that use closed-loop systems to recapture and reuse chemicals present a more sustainable alternative.

    • Spandex (Elastane): Spandex is a synthetic fiber commonly used in stretchy underwear. Its production involves toxic chemicals and high energy consumption. Additionally, spandex garments contribute to microplastic pollution, further exacerbating environmental issues.

Why Opt for Eco-Friendly Underwear?

Considering the environmental impact of conventional underwear materials, transitioning to eco-friendly underwear brands and products that utilize sustainable materials like organic cotton, Tencel™ Lyocell, or ethically produced bamboo makes a lot of sense. Here are some reasons why: 

    • Reduced Environmental Impact: Eco-friendly underwear made from sustainable materials like organic cotton, Tencel™ Lyocell, or responsibly produced bamboo significantly lowers the environmental footprint compared to conventional materials. Organic cotton, for instance, eliminates the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, reducing soil and water pollution. Tencel™ Lyocell is produced in a closed-loop system that recycles water and reuses solvents, minimizing waste.

    • Supports BiodiversitySustainable farming practices for materials like organic cotton promote biodiversity. They encourage a balance within ecosystems, supporting various plant and animal species instead of monoculture practices standard in conventional cotton farming. This can lead to habitat loss and species decline.

    • Promotes Healthier Conditions for Workers: The production of eco-friendly materials often involves safer conditions for workers. Organic farming avoids hazardous chemicals, protecting farmers from exposure to toxic substances. Ethical brands also prioritize fair labor practices, including fair wages and safe working conditions.

    • Quality and Comfort: Many people find that eco-friendly underwear offers superior comfort and durability compared to their conventional counterparts. Sustainable materials like organic cotton are often softer and more breathable, making them gentle on the skin. Additionally, because these materials are less likely to contain harsh chemicals, they are a good choice for individuals with sensitive skin or allergies.

    • Conserves WaterSustainable materials generally require less water in their production process. Organic cotton, for instance, tends to use significantly less water than conventional cotton. Bamboo is naturally drought-tolerant, requiring minimal irrigation. Conserving water helps protect this vital resource and supports communities in water-scarce regions.

    • Helps Combat Climate Change: By reducing greenhouse gas emissions through lower energy consumption and capturing carbon in sustainably managed ecosystems, eco-friendly underwear production contributes to efforts against climate change. The sustainable practices in growing and processing these materials can help mitigate the industry’s impact on global warming.

    • Promotes Responsibly Managed Forests: In the case of Tencel™ Lyocell and ethically sourced bamboo, the production process often requires cellulose from wood pulp, which supports the need for responsibly managed forestry. These practices ensure that the forests are preserved and regenerated, maintaining the balance of ecosystems. This not only helps in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but also protects biodiversity and water resources.

    • Encourages Ethical Consumer Habits: Opting for eco-friendly underwear is a stepping stone toward more conscious consumer habits. It inspires individuals to scrutinize their purchases’ environmental and social implications across various product categories, fostering a more sustainable and ethical economy.

    • Long-term Cost SavingsWhile eco-friendly underwear might come with a higher upfront cost, its durability means you won’t have to replace it as frequently as you would with cheaper, lower-quality options. Over time, investing in sustainable undergarments can lead to savings, reducing the overall cost per wear.

    • Waste Reduction: Eco-friendly materials are often biodegradable or recyclable, reducing landfill waste. By choosing underwear made from these materials, consumers can help decrease the volume of persistent waste and lessen their environmental impact.

How to Choose Eco-Friendly Underwear Brands and Products

Seeing how eco-friendly underwear stacks up against its non-eco-friendly counterparts, chances are, you’ve been inspired to make the switch. To make the process easier and ensure you find the right eco-friendly and ethical underwear brands and products for your needs, here are some considerations to remember: 

    • Material Matters: Begin by identifying which sustainable materials you prefer. Whether it’s organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, or Tencel™ Lyocell, each has its unique benefits in terms of comfort, breathability, and environmental impact. Understanding the properties of these materials can help you choose underwear that aligns with your comfort needs and eco-conscious values.

    • Assess Certifications: Look for evidence of sustainability and ethical practices through certifications such as GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), OEKO-TEX Standard 100, Fair Trade, etc. These certifications offer assurance that the products meet rigorous environmental and social standards.

    • Investigate Brand Practices: Beyond material and certifications, delve into the brand’s overall commitment to sustainability. This includes their manufacturing processes, labor practices, packaging, and any initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint or support communities.

    • Read Reviews: Customer reviews can offer valuable insights into the fit, comfort, durability, and actual wear experience of the underwear. They can also shed light on how well the company lives up to its sustainability claims in practice.

    • Consider Your Needs: Consider your specific needs regarding style, cut, and support to ensure your chosen underwear will be comfortable to wear frequently. Remember, the most sustainable product is the one you use often and for a long time.

    • Evaluate Price vs. Value: Eco-friendly underwear tends to have a higher price tag due to the sustainable materials and fair labor practices involved in their production. Consider this an investment in quality, durability, and ethical consumption that offers longer-term value than cheaper, less sustainable options.

    • Look for Transparency: Support brands that are transparent about their supply chain, manufacturing locations, and business practices. This openness is a good indicator of a company’s commitment to sustainability and ethical considerations.

    • Size Inclusivity: Ensure the brand offers a range of sizes that accommodate different body types, promoting accessibility and inclusivity sustainably. Everyone deserves access to eco-friendly options that fit well and feel comfortable, regardless of size or shape.

    • Explore Return Policies: Understanding a brand’s return policy can be crucial, especially when trying new eco-friendly underwear for the first time. Look for companies with fair and hassle-free return policies. This ensures you can find the perfect fit without being stuck with a product that doesn’t meet your expectations.

    • Impact Initiatives: Consider brands that go beyond just selling products and contribute to environmental or social causes. Whether planting trees, supporting women’s health, or donating a portion of sales to sustainability projects, choosing these brands allows your purchase to have a broader positive impact.

    • Local Brands: Supporting local businesses can further reduce the carbon footprint of your purchase due to shorter transportation distances. Additionally, it promotes local economies and craftsmanship.

Conclusion

The journey towards sustainability and ethical practices encompasses every layer of our lifestyle, down to the basics like our underwear. By supporting eco-friendly underwear brands dedicated to reducing their environmental footprint and fostering fair labor conditions, we actively shape a more conscientious fashion industry.

Opting for eco-friendly underwear is a significant step in embracing a lifestyle that respects people and the planet. It proves we can enjoy quality, comfort, and style without sacrificing our ethical values. As we make deliberate choices favoring sustainable alternatives, we contribute to the momentum towards a greener, fairer world.

Let’s commit to making choices that reflect our dedication to sustainability, starting with the most intimate aspects of our wardrobes. Together, we can make a difference, reinforcing that caring for the planet doesn’t mean compromising personal comfort or aesthetics.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some top ethical and sustainable underwear brands?

Some top ethical and sustainable underwear brands include Pact, Organic Basics, and People Tree.

How can I find comfy and sustainable lingerie brands?

You can find comfy and sustainable lingerie brands by searching for those that use materials like organic cotton, Tencel, and recycled polyester.

What are the best sustainable underwear styles for men and women?

The best sustainable underwear styles for men and women are those made with sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, Tencel, and recycled materials.

Where can I find ethical and eco-friendly underwear for my underwear drawer?

You can find ethical and eco-friendly underwear for your underwear drawer from brands that prioritize sustainable and ethical production practices like the 9 recommendations mentioned above.

What makes a sustainable lingerie brand different from traditional lingerie brands?

 A sustainable lingerie brand uses eco-friendly materials and ethical manufacturing processes and often supports fair trade and sustainable initiatives.

Are there any affordable, ethical underwear and lingerie brands available?

Yes, there are affordable, ethical underwear and lingerie brands that offer sustainable and ethically-made products, such as Thunderpants and WAMA Underwear.

What are some sustainable underwear materials used by ethical brands?

Sustainable underwear materials used by ethical brands include certified organic cotton, Tencel, recycled polyester, and other eco-friendly fabrics.

Where can I find a list of sustainable and ethical clothing brands that also offer eco-friendly underwear and bras?

You can find a list of sustainable and ethical clothing brands that offer eco-friendly underwear and bras through online ethical fashion directories and platforms dedicated to sustainable fashion.

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