Guilt-free undies, do they exist? Are they hideous? Are they expensive? Yes, no and it depends, in that order. Underwear is one of the things I don’t buy second hand. It’s not that I’d have an issue buying a lightly worn bra, it’s more that they’re just not available. Therefore I am always interested in sustainable ethical underwear brands.
As always the definition of ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ is open to interpretation and I find my own definition changes are my knowledge and the market matures. Just remember, sometimes all we can do it make the least bad choice.
I’ve compiled a separate article on the sustainability / ethics of fabric types, which you can use to decide for yourself on your priorities on buying these most intimate garments.
When you’re ready to shop here are some companies that caught my eye in my search for sustainable, ethical, Europe-based underwear brands.
Nothing mentioned in this article has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion.
Sustainable Ethical Underwear Brands Sold in Ireland
Bon and Berg is an Austrian company with an Irish office that makes underwear from Lenzig Modal, in factories in Turkey which is audited by SMETA. They are also members of 1% for the planet. Their products are wrapped in compostable tissue paper and sent out in a compostable mailer bag, and their labels and stickers are also made from 100% compostable materials.
Patagonia is a high-street that makes thermal and normal underwear from recycled nylon printed with PVC- and phthalate-free inks. On their website they give details on how they work with factories and mills to ensure ethical work-practices, good working conditions and processes that are less harmful to the environment. They say they are particularly invested in protecting migrant workings and guarding against child labour and human trafficking. The company also gives 1% of their sales to support environmental organizations around the world. There is tons of information on the Patagonia website about the ethical and sustainable way they do business. I found the Environmental Assessment of Materials in Clothing particularly interesting. It talks about the reality behind some fabrics that are being sold as green.
Boody is an American brand of bamboo underwear that includes light-support bras, briefs, socks and leggings all made from rayon derived from bamboo. I’m not a huge fan of rayon clothing because the process of converting bamboo to fabric is generally very environmentally damaging but Boody use a close-looped system to make their bamboo fabric meaning that no chemicals or water leaves the system. They also use plant dyes and a computer based knitting system that produces no waste. The bamboo that they use is the only certified organic bamboo that I’ve come across on the market. Their bamboo is grown by the Hebei Jigao Chemical Fiber Company and grown in accordance with the international organic standard of OCIA / IFOAMand the USDA National Organic Program. The raw bamboo is also certified as organically grown by Ecocert. The final fabric is certified as being organic by The Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) and has been tested for toxic chemicals by the private company SGS. Boody’s website claim that bamboo fibre (rayon) is biodegradable at the end of it’s life. My research has shown otherwise and I see no evidence of independent testing on their website to back this up. The company says that it’s factories reach the gold standard for employee conditions as set out by the independent organisation WRAP, but it’s unclear as to whether this means they’ve been independently assessed as being so. Similarly Boody’s website does state that the production in their factories complies with ISO 14001 Regulations but doesn’t say if they’ve been accredited with the standard.You an buy their goods directly from the company or from UK based e-tailer U Organic or the Dublin based store Hopsack in Rathmines, Dublin 6.
Sloggi underwear is made from a blend of cotton, lycra, polyester or spandex and are made in accordance with Oeko-Tex Standard 100. They also have an unlimited guarantee on their Evernew garments. If their product does not deliver our quality promise, simply return it to them at any time for an exchange.
There are also a few Irish-based makers of made-to-order underwear including;
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