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Green, Local & Comfy AF: Rockin’ the Organic Lingerie

Screenshot from Thunderpants

A little over 15 years ago, when I first started blogging as “EcoGrrl” (seems like an eternity ago), I started slowly but surely examining everything I did, consumed, wore, etc., and sought out ways to do better environmentally. From food to energy use to shopping, looking at everything - including my closet - was needed.

One of the most significant overhauls I made over this time when it came to what I put on my body was in my underwear. Yep, bras and undies. And for anyone who’s ever informally audited this part of their wardrobe, you know it can bring up some feelings. Even though it’s not seen like our outer clothing, most of us have certain things we’re attached to, whether it be the coverage (or lack thereof) in your favorite undies, how well the straps keep the gals up and/or stay put on one’s shoulders, and of course, how cute/sexy/rad we think we look in them (and if applicable, what our partner thinks).

For me, one of the biggest ‘A-ha!’ moments was when I learned three key things about lingerie:

  1. Most lingerie is made from fossil fuels. Rayon, Polyester, Spandex, Nylon - it’s all derived from OIL. It’s plastic you’ve got up close to your personal parts, folks. "To produce plastic-based textiles for the fashion industry, an estimated 342 million barrels of oil are used every year. Polyester accounts for 52% of the overall fiber market, and around 80% of synthetic fibers.” (source) Along with the climate devastation we are now seeing because of fossil fuel PRODUCTION, the microplastics created by these products have been proven to be inside all of us…and is being passed along to newborns as well. We are seeing the damage not only in our weather but in the health impacts, as microplastics in our arteries and more are, quite literally, clogging our bodies and leading to disastrous consequences. "These synthetics are the number two cause of microplastics in our drinking water. When we ingest them and wear them against our skin, they can cause major health issues like cancer, hormone disruption, and infertility, among others. They also don’t allow our skin to breathe, which is one of the most important properties of underwear and base layers in maintaining healthy body functions for both men and women.” (source)

  2. Most cotton lingerie (and clothing in general) is made with pesticides like Round-Up that do NOT go away in the wash. "Cotton uses 24% and 11% of the world’s insecticides and pesticides, respectively. It also uses 4% of the world’s artificial phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers. Cotton is the third crop with the most pesticide use in the US...Out of the top ten pesticides used in cotton farming in 2017, glyphosate, diuron, and tribufos are considered human carcinogens.” (source) Think about that when you’re pulling up your drawers...

  3. Clothing made from ‘recycled’ synthetic materials still are harmful. "Every time you wear or wash a synthetic garment, microplastics leech into the waterways and the environment.” (source). Just because it’s being reused to make another product does NOT mean it’s no longer a pollutant, y’all. "Converting plastic from bottles into clothes may actually accelerate its path to the landfill, especially for low-quality, fast-fashion garments.” (source). So don’t believe the greenwashing that comes with ‘recycled plastic’ - it’s still killing the planet - and our bodies, folks.

Along with these Big Three, I also hated the waste that came with getting rid of an old, non-donatable bra, from the synthetics to the underwire. I also - as what often comes with hitting one’s 30s - got sick and tired of any type of discomfort. Out went the thongs. Out went the underwire. Out went the pushups. Turns out, very few partners in my entire dating history gave a rat’s arse about my lingerie - because most of them were far more interested at what was underneath. No matter how Bridget Jones' Diary tried to freak us out about granny panties? It really was the least of any decent man’s concern, I learned.

I also learned about the multiple myths that come from the fashion media and lingerie manufacturers about undies. Guess what? "There's no data that shows that certain bras such as push-up bras prevent sagging, or that any particular kind of bra can cause sagging.” Breasts sag because of two things - changing of size, and time. If they get big then shrink, they stretch out! And over time, the skin - just like bellies, faces, upper arms and men’s balls, to name a few - starts to succumb to gravity. It’s called aging, and IT'S OKAY. Regardless, an underwire bra ain’t gonna save you. It’s aesthetics.

My favorite Thunderpants styles (again, screenshots) - High Rise, Bralette, Bike Short, and Classic.

While 15 years ago the options weren’t early as plentiful as they are now for sustainably made lingerie, now there’s one brand who’s come about who has definitely gotten my attention: and slowly but surely become literally the only brand in my undies drawer: Thunderpants. From their bralettes (which go all the way into plus sizes, if you’re curious) to their bloomers to their bike shorts (something I love to wear under skirts and dresses in the summer to not only protect from wind gusts but let me ride my bike without flashing the world), I could advertise for these amazing women who created this brand thanks to their fair trade, organic cotton products that are sewn right here in the Pacific Northwest. They are cute, they are wedgie-proof, they are extremely well made (and therefore long lasting) and they embrace every type of figure…from thick to thin, short to tall.

Of course, with their solids and patterns, the desire to ‘collect’ then occurs, but honestly, as long as I’ve got one for every day of the week, I’m good. They don’t cost any more than a conventional set at a lingerie or department store, and benefit our local communities while embracing beautifully diverse women (with a goal to accommodate gender-neutral styles in the future as well!). How cool is that.

I’d love to see them expand into hemp, which is even more sustainable, but for now, I feel SO much better about what I put against my skin, y’all, and that’s one thing I am happy to say I can proudly check off my sustainability list.

PS - What should you do with your old undergarments, you ask? Repurpose them, of course! Cut them up and put them in your ‘rag bag’ for one last use! Last week we cut up the last two pairs of my synthetic undies in our rag bin into long strips and used them for plant & trellis ties in the garden…and no one’s the wiser :)


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