How to be Environmentally Conscious with your Underwear Shopping
Monday, 6 January 2020 | Elaine Needham
The environment has been in the spotlight for some time but Greta Thunberg and other activists have really made people sit up and take notice. Making environmentally conscious choices is more important than it’s ever been before but it’s a mindset which needs to pervade every purchase we make.
Being eco-friendly doesn’t mean you can never have nice things, and you shouldn’t feel bad for treating yourself. However, you can still try to look after the Earth by making sure that your underwear purchases are eco-friendly too.
Even the most committed Earth-lover may not have considered the ethics of underwear before, but it’s much easier than you think! We’ve set out just a few ways you can go green - and we don’t mean by changing the colour of your undies!
The fabric that your undies are made from will be integral to whether you can really consider them to be an eco-friendly choice.
Silk is a luxurious fabric that looks great but isn’t terribly practical for everyday underwear. In addition, it’s not a fabric which is suitable for those who want to avoid animal products, such as vegans, especially due to the ethical concerns for some types of silk.
The production of the fabric also needs to be factored in; the intensity of labour required to produce sufficient quantities as well as the carbon footprint in transporting it.
Cotton is widely accepted as being one of the most eco-friendly choices for underwear, a natural fibre which is sustainable, biodegradable and renewable - it ticks every box. Cotton doesn’t require a lot of water while being grown and doesn’t require the use of petroleum to produce the final fabric, unlike polyester.
To commit to the highest possible standards, look for organic cotton. This will ensure no pesticides have been used and in many cases, the manufacturer will also be committed to fair trade ethics for labour too.
The carbon footprint and the distance the fabric travelled is also a factor although this can be harder if you want to buy cotton. However, although much of the commercial cotton is produced in distant countries such as India and China, you can find some which is harvested in the EU.
Keeping your underwear for as long as possible is another way to be environmentally conscious. By reducing the number of unnecessary purchases we make, we can ease the pressure on the natural resources of the world. This doesn’t mean putting up with saggy, holey underwear; when you buy your undies you can make smart choices.
Cotton is a very durable fabric so it will naturally last a long time and endure wash after wash. It’s therefore a very obvious choice, particularly when it also provides super comfort and breathability too. The other benefit to cotton is the after care; it doesn’t require anything special to get it clean. You won’t need to use harsh chemicals and you could even rinse them through by hand. If you choose to use a washing machine, your cotton undies can go on a gentle wash with all your other delicates so you won’t be switching on the machine for just a few items.
With no need to waste water, consume excessive electricity or use toxic chemicals, the aftercare of cotton is a major plus.
Over the years there have been a number of big-name brands which have used sweatshops to produce their products. This is not only ethically deplorable it can have an adverse impact on the environment with poor practices adopted during manufacture.
When buying your underwear, look for a company that is committed to maintaining the highest standards and has a long-established system of providers which it audits and holds to account. Triumph is an excellent example of this, adhering to the Business Social Compliance Initiative, a code of conduct which actively works against trafficking and exploitation of child workers, while promoting sustainable processes.
Being eco-friendly is such a high priority for many people these days that it’s not difficult to find out how green companies are with a little bit of online research. By supporting underwear manufacturers that have adopted ethical, eco-friendly principles, you’ll be doing your part to protect the planet.
For high-quality underwear which is as eco-conscious as you’ll get, take a look at Sloggi and Triumph. Both companies have a long and established history of making underwear and also score top marks for their commitment to green practices too.
Enjoy a clear conscience
While no-one will know what underwear you’re wearing, making an environmentally friendly choice means you can rock your undies with a completely clear conscience!