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The Dirty Truth About Underwear
Like many sustainability enthusiasts, I changed my lifestyle from the outside in. This is something I did without truly thinking about it. It comes naturally – we change our environments first, only then may it occur to us to change ourselves.
Only once my kitchen was paperless, there were reusable coffee grounds in my k-cup brewer, and sufficiently less plastic storage in my home did I realize something was overlooked. I had a working list of sustainable and ethical brands I could refer to, but my thoughts never immediately jumped to the need for ethical underwear.
After all, it’s something small we may buy a couple times a year and few of us seek to overspend on it. Personally, I like something easy, simple, and not overdone. I do a lot in one day and I like to be comfortable. But there are many things to take into consideration when you buy your 5 for $35 packs.
Need to Know
Typical synthetic underwear, from Victoria’s Secret for example, falls short of just about every transparency standard. These bras and panties, tested through a Greenpeace investigation, were found to contain unhealthy and even dangerous amounts of toxins. They are produced under hazardous conditions where their workers are constantly in contact with the toxic dyes we choose to place next to our skin. (source).
The last thing we want our unmentionables exposed to are toxic phthalates, but that is exactly what we are getting in our quick and easy variety packs. These phthalates come with an increased risk of cancer, especially when exposed to the female reproductive system. Not to mention lesser unpleasant effects they may cause – such as a yeast infection – and I can say this from experience.
When it comes to something as intimate as underwear, we should expect no less than complete transparency. After all, we want to know what we keep against our skin. If we are unhappy with the chemical by-products, imagine being the workers that are exposed to them daily. Unacceptable. And far too often overlooked.
So, here is where I make the argument for an ethical switch.
Enter Organic Basics
A visionary lovechild of sustainable sourcing and ethical practices, Organic Basics is a straightforward brand of timeless and innovative essentials. In their own words, “The fashion industry is a dirty bastard. So, we put sustainable thinking at the center of everything…” Now not only do they talk the talk – they also walk the walk.
The publication of their full impact index partnered with the detailed release of their factory list has set a new transparency standard.
They never employ forced labor – all workers are paid a living wage, provided with a safe working environment, and receive numerous employee benefits such as free lunch and childcare.
Their competitive standards alone are not the reason why I feel grateful for and eternally loyal to Organic Basics.
As I mentioned before, I only like things that are simple and comfortable. I am not one to go out of my way for laced up pieces with hooks that dig into my back. To be fully honest, I don’t wear bras 90% of the time. I feel better and much more relaxed without them. But when I do choose to wear a bra, I go for an unpadded bralette – and this is where my triangle bra comes in.
The Triangle Bra
Made of 95% organic cotton (other 5% is elastane), the Triangle Bra is simplicity itself. When it comes to buying bras, I can have some trouble (one reason I don’t usually like to wear them anymore). I have a petite frame but a 34DD cup size. So, when it may fit my chest, it doesn’t always fall comfortably around my ribs, there’s an easy gap there even with bralettes. But not the case with the triangle bra, it’s soft and light as a feather, and it hits me comfortably everywhere. So comfortably I often forget I’m wearing it.
It creates a lovely and natural shape, giving a little lift where needed without too much effort. The band underneath is wide, soft, and stretchy, so the bra sits very easily.
There is a reason the triangle bra is one of Organic Basics’s bestsellers.
The Beauty of Tencel ™ Lite
Besides my everyday necessity bra, I have to bring some attention to their Tencel™ Lite tops and underwear. They are quite literally softer than silk. I wear the tank tops to bed, and they are especially effective on hot summer nights. Mine is so soft on my skin, it feels like there is nothing between me and the sheets. This is wonderful for me since I don’t like to keep my A/C on and I don’t really want to go to bed naked, but I might like to feel that I did.
Their underwear though is the most important factor to consider here. This is where you really want to be thoughtful about what you are putting close to your body. When compared to cotton and traditional practices, their Tencel ™ underwear saves 37 gallons of water, 8 ounces of chemicals, and 0.7 pounds of CO2 emissions (source).
With Organic Basics, there is never a question. You can rest easy knowing you made a choice beneficial not only to you, but to the workers who produced your pieces, and to the planet as a whole.
Organic Basics is one of the recent sustainable companies to declare themselves fully carbon neutral by partnering with Chooose – an offsetting organization that reinvests brand and individual resources into carbon reducing projects in developing countries.
Organic Basics produces women’s and men’s activewear along with tees, socks, and leggings, so there is no need to think of them as an underwear brand.
But my honest opinion is this: there is no piece of clothing more important than our most intimate of garments, and we should always be considerate of those choices. I can’t feel comfortable knowing someone may have suffered to create the bra I am wearing, nor can I feel comfortable without knowing which/and if any harmful chemicals were used.
Organic Basics is an affordable non-investment. As far as pricing goes, my triangle bra is $47, the Tencel tank top is $45, and the Tencel underwear – $55 for 2 pairs.
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