Monday, May 07, 2007

Sustainable Underwear

Remember my quest for the perfect black lace bra? I found one. I’m not sure I’d call it perfect, but it is black lace and sexy as hell (if I do say so myself). I got the matching underwear, too, but because the website I bought the bra from didn’t have the underwear in black I had to buy it from a different company and have it shipped separately. The underwear arrived first, and as I unwrapped it I was totally blown away by the amount of packaging that had been used to send me one itty bitty piece of fabric.

It started with a brown shipping box, somewhere along the lines of 8x8x6. That’s a lot of box for not a lot of underwear. Inside the box, a couple of sheets of lavender tissue paper were meant to make me feel as though I was receiving a present. (An old trick. Back in my days at the toy store I was a sex-toy shipping queen: slip the toy into a satin storage bag, surround it with leopard print tissue, write the customer a glowing thank you note along with any care instructions for the toy, and toss in a few packets of lube to show our appreciation – that’s how you get repeat customers.) Beneath the tissue were two printouts – a return form, and an advertisement from the company – on standard paper, printed in color ink. And beneath that…

My underwear? Oh no. That would be too straightforward. Instead I found yet another box, this one about a tenth of the size of the first, printed with the fancy French lingerie company’s name. and inside that, finally, were my new panties – panties so small they fit literally in the palm of my hand. Amazing the resources that were used to get this little pair of underwear onto my bottom.

By amazing, of course, I mean sad and scary. I didn’t think to check the return address to see where they had been shipped from, but I’m guessing it was fairly far away (meaning lots of carbon output). Add to that the synthetic materials used to make the underwear, the fact that I have no idea where or how or under what conditions they were made, and you’ve got one very non-sustainable purchase. Shame on me. On the upside, the experience was significant guilt-inducing that I’ll be a lot more thoughtful the next time I purchase fancy undergarments.

Certain companies have caught on to the fact that we – ecologically conscious consumers of sexy stuff – want more than just organic cotton briefs (although those are great too). For great options in “green” underwear, check out Enamore, GreenKnickers, and Peau-Ethique. Also Buenostyle, whose "Eat Organic" panties are freaking hysterical, and BUTTA, whose products are made in Africa under good work conditions. The only problem is that every time I look at their website I can distinctly hear my first boyfriend hissing "bring me the butta" in his best mobster accent. Ah, memories.

1 comment:

Lweins said...

Check out Icebreaker's sustainable merino undies at