Ethical and Sustainable Underwear Brands

November 17, 2018

 

One of the most common questions we get is where to find sustainably and ethically produced intimates. And although second hand is best for all other clothing, it's probably better if you buy your underwear new. Search no more, because I've made a super convenient list of some of my favorite brands, as well as some I researched to make the list a little longer. 

 

First I'd like to disclose that I haven't personally tried all of these brands. I'm familiar with almost all of them but have only tried Hara The Label and Thinx because I don't want to accumulate more than I need, and also, a lot of my underwear that I've had for years are still in great condition. Also, I've linked every company in the titles so you guys can visit their websites!

 

Another thing to note that I feel is important, don't throw out all of your current underwear that is still in good condition and replace it with sustainable underwear, because that defeats the purpose of trying to live sustainably. Also, you may notice some of these brands have a big price tag. I'd recommend buying them in stages if you really need to replace your intimates and are on a budget. Gradually save up for that one bra you want and maybe only get one or even two, because you don't need a drawer full!

 

Also, a lot of these companies have men's underwear and apparel, and also some kids stuff too!

 

With that out of the way, let's dive in!

 

Hara the label

Organic bamboo fiber fabric, ethically made and produced with all natural dyes of turmeric, indigo and madder root. Hara is one of the best sustainable and ethical underwear brands around. You can litteraly compost your bras and underwear when they become too worn out to wear, how it should be! Bras are unlined and unwired.

 

All production takes place in one facility in Melorne, Australia and all employees are paid a living wage and treated well. They offer plastic-free shipping and package their intimates in bamboo fiber pouches (same material as the bras and underwear). Extremely soft fabric by the way. Closed-loop system manufacturing and low water usage throughout production.

 

An important note is that the natural dyes will fade over time. For best longevity, hand wash cold and lay flat to dry. Some of the mistakes I made were throwing my bra in the wash and also swimming with it several times (forgot my swimsuit when I went on vaca). One of the bra straps snapped due to the abuse. I've since mended it, but take good care of your bras and they should work great. Overall, great quality and amazing values. Still my #1, go-to brand.

 

Have I tried their merch | Yes

Ethical produciton | Yes

Natural fibers | Yes (100%)

Natural Dyes | Yes

Biodegradable | Yes

Made in Melborne, Australia

 

thinx

For people with periods. Not your typical everyday underwear, but definiely one worth noting. And an amazing and reusable alternative to period products.

 

Thinx has some hardcore values. They have a giveback program where they help fund reusable period products to menstruators in Uganda and also have an education program where they teach and empower youth about reproductive health and human rights, all while providing greater access to marginalized communities around the world.

 

Thinx underwear can be worn as a backup or replacement to conventional period products and hold up to 2 regular tampons worth of blood and keep you fresh, dry and leak-free. Four layers of moisture absorbing and odor reducing fabrics.

 

Lastly, they use ethical and sustainable manufacturing. Their employees are paid a living wage and are offered door-to-door transportation, daily fitness sessions, social get-togethers and work well-balanced 8-hour days. As for sustainability, fabric scraps are recycled into bricks (70k bricks produced so far) and will be used to build a new facility, and they have a zero waste goal set for 2025!

 

If you're interested in a more sustainable period, check out our ZW Alternatives page for menstrual products, about halfway down the page.

 

Think also has an organic cotton underwear line that also serves the purpose for periods but holds less.

 

Have I tried their merch | Yes

Ethical production | Yes

Natural fibers | Some

Natural Dyes | No

Biodegradable | No

Made in Sri Lanka

 

Organic basics

Based in Copenhagen and established in 2015, the company is focused on sustainable and ethical production as well as quality.

 

Organic Basics is involved in fair trade and organic production for their cotton supply, which is grown outside of Izmir, Turkey and the workers are paid fair wages (GOTS certified). The cotton is grown organically, so no pesticides, toxic substances or chemical fertilizers and no genetically modified seeds. The cotton is also dyed with organic dyes but the website doesn't go into detail about what they specifically use to dye their clothing.

 

I'm the type of person who owns day underwear and night underwear. I think their cotton briefs (pictured above) would be perfect night underwear as the reviews are pretty good and the material is thick at the waistband. They also have an "invisible" line of underwear that I would use as my day undies.

 

They also carry socks and basic T's, and have a men's line.

 

Have I tried their merch | Planning on it

Ethical production | Yes

Natural fibers | Yes (95% organic cotton, 5% elastic)

Natural Dyes | Some

Biodegradable | No

Made in Turkey

 

everlane

Everlane is a clothing retailer but also has a line of ethically and sustainably produced bras and underwear. Mostly made with organic cotton.

 

Everlane is known as a transparent brand and works hard to make sure they disclose all the important information. Under each product on their website, you can see the factory that manufactures that certain product.

 

Everlane's underwear line is manufactured in Kandy, Sri Lanka in a factory called MAS Holdings and is owned by Mahesh Amalean. The factory has about 73,000 employees and although that doesn't sound great, the environment at the factory has been called "world-class" by the New York Times and they have education programs. The majority of the work force is female, so they have women's health initiatives, and financial planning training available. 

 

MAS also participates in WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production), The Ethical Trading Initiative, and The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (of which they are a founding member).

 

Although all these things sound great, I feel like I should mention that it isn't clearly stated that workers are paid a living wage, only that production is ethical. It also wasn't mentioned that they use natural dyes for their fabrics.

 

Have I tried their merch | No

Ethical production | Yes

Natural fibers | Yes (90% cotton, 10% elastic)

Natural Dyes | Some

Biodegradable | No

Made in Kandy, Sri Lanka

 

pact

Women's, men's and kid's lines of underwear, apparel and accessories. Fair trade factory certified and uses 100% organic cotton. Pact believes in conscious consuming and are focused on the people making the clothing, the impact on the environment and material choices. They claim to not use any pesticides or harmful chemicals throughout production and only use natural dyes. Although, it isn't stated what those dyes are.

 

Most of their pieces are made with 95% organic cotton and 5% elastic. And under each product on their website, it lists the percentage of water that was saved during the growing of the organic cotton. Cotton is naturally a very thirsty plant and requires a lot of water, but Pact claims to use no harmful inorganic pesticides and fertilizers which helps reduce water pollution. Their cotton is GOTS certified which means no synthetic fertilizers or chemicals are involved and they do not use genetically engineered seeds.

 

Pact also uses fair trade labor. Although it is uncertain if every product on their website is fair-trade considering the label starts with "Products with this label are made in a Fair Trade approved facility..." so watch out for that if you're browsing their website. Fair trade facilities ensure workers are working in safe conditions and with regulated work hours and maternity leave, and have zero tolerance to sexual discrimination or child labor.

 

I couldn't find where the factories are located or where manufacturing/production takes place.

 

Have I tried their merch | No

Ethical production | Yes

Natural fibers | Yes (95% cotton, 5% elastic)

Natural Dyes | Some

Biodegradable | No 

 

boodywear

Women's and men's lines of underwear and apparel.

 

"Good for you and our planet". Boodywear uses bamboo viscose as their natural fiber for production which is one of the softest natural fibers available and is also marketed as breathable and good for those with sensitive skin.

 

The four pillars of Boody are: Sustainability, Ethics, Quality and Giving back. They are also Ecocert certified which is an inspection and certification group and is the leader in global organic certifications. Also FSC certified which ensures responsible forestry for bamboo production which means that they are not contributing to habitat loss or forest destruction.

 

They also use no pesticides, no fertilizers and low water consumption. Workers are paid fair wages, the yarn is treated with natural dyes and the production uses computer knitting systems so no fabric is wasted. They also have a cause that is fighting to end malaria in Africa. The location of production is unknown.

 

Have I tried their merch | No

Ethical production | Yes

Natural fibers | Yes (80% rayon made from bamboo, 13% nylon, 7% spandex)

Natural Dyes | Some

Biodegradable | No

 

brooke There

Organic lingerie mostly made of certified organic cotton jersey and some silk for trimming. Their primary fabric is organic cotton jersey made from GOTS-certified yarn, and is milled in South Carolina or California. Silk is used for trims of some garments, but is specifically stated on each product on their website if it contains silk and is not sewn onto every product they have. 

 

About their dyes, and I quote, "most of our fabrics are dyed in Pennsylvania or California, with a small selection being dyed by Brook in Maine. We use fiber reactive dyes when possible. Certain colors can’t be created through fiber-reactives, such as black and white. We strive to create a healthy compromise between colors that customers love, color-fastness, and sustainability."

 

All production takes place in the US as Brooke There is trying to avoid sweat shops and child labor that usually happens when manufacturing extends beyond the US border. Fabric is produced in South Carolina, is dyed in Pennsylvania and is cut and sewn in Massachusetts. The company also uses recycled content for packaging.

 

Have I tried their merch | No

Ethical production | Yes

Natural fibers | Yes (94% cotton, 6% elastic)

Natural Dyes | Some

Biodegradable | No

Made in USA

 

only hearts

A little different and more playful than other sustainable brands, but I especially like their bralette line, as they use a greater variety of fabrics and colors. Only Hearts manufactures in New York City using local, deadstock and certified made in green textiles. Work is ethical and fair trade.

 

They also have an organics line that is GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), IMO (Institute for Marketecology), and the ETAD (Ecological and Toxical Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments Manufacturers) certified. 

 

Have I tried their merch | No

Ethical production | Yes

Natural fibers | Yes

Natural Dyes | Some

Biodegradable | No

Made in New York

 

sokoloff Lingerie

The house of indie lingerie designs, made in Canada. The brand promotes positive body image and unstructured intimates with 100% of its manufacturing taking place in Canada and also participates in ethical production.

 

Sokoloff has a Green Basics line made of organic cotton and recycled elastane fibers which is manufactured in Montreal.

 

Have I tried their merch | No

Ethical production | Yes

Natural fibers | Some

Natural Dyes | Some

Biodegradable | No

Made in Canada

 

 

 

 

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