Plastic-Free(ish)

I Put 5 Sustainable Underwear Brands to the Test

We spend a lot of time in our undies and while they’re usually hidden under of layers clothing, wearing the right pair can make us feel more put together and confident. Finding underwear that's comfortable, flattering and sustainable used to be a near impossible task. Luckily, many brands are stepping up to the plate to offer an array of undergarments that look great and you can feel good about wearing. 

My Criteria

For this review, I was specifically searching for a thong (I already own a few full coverage options). And, while most underwear is made from synthetic materials (for stretchiness and lace detailing), I wanted to find undies primarily made from natural fabrics like cotton and bamboo. Natural fabrics are better for vaginal health because they're breathable and they're better for the environment because unlike synthetics, they don’t shed plastic microfibers while being washed. However, I was unable to find a thong made from 100% natural fabrics (they all use a small percentage of elastic), which means I won't be able to compost any of them at the end of life. Instead, I will recycle them through a textile recycling drop-off like the ones offered through H&M and Goodwill.  

Given this criteria, I set out to search for the perfect pair. Here’s what I discovered:

1. If you're looking for comfort...

Me Undies, Feel Free Thong | Price: $18

Materials: 92% MicroModal® 8% elastane

Waist Size: 24-43” waist

Me Undies offers a low-rise thong with a soft and seamless waistband. The undies are made from Lenzing MicroModal which is a sustainably sourced, naturally soft fiber made from beechwood trees. The fabric is key to Me Undies claim to “softer-than-soft” undies with a smooth and supple feel. While I chose a black thong, Me Undies come in a range of colors and prints (34 total!).

Pros: Me Undies definitely had the best feeling fabric of the selection and I found myself reaching for them day after day. I loved the seamless waistband which fits snugly around the hips without digging in. They also offer the largest selection of sizes compared to the other brands reviewed. 

Cons: I was really sad that Me Undies was shipped in a plastic pouch. I really expect such a progressive brand to do better with their packaging materials. Hopefully, they’re working on it (hint, hint). Also, while they offer a lot of patterns and colors, most of them were too loud for my taste. 

Comfort/Fit Grade: A- (very soft and comfortable, but I'd love to see a more natural color palate)

Packaging Grade: C- (undies were shipped in a plastic envelope)

2. If you're looking for "barely there"...

Everlane, The Thong | Price: $12

Materials: 92% Supima cotton, 8% elastane

Waist Size: 22 ¼ - 33 ¼” waist

Everlane undies are made from a breathable Supima cotton for a lightweight, barely-there feel with an elastic waistband and hems. They come in three colors (grey, black and pink) and have a classic, minimal look. 

Pros: The Everlane undies were pretty comfortable and seamless under clothing. They were also one of the most affordable options at $12 a pair and I appreciated that they were shipped in a small cardboard box inside a paper envelope (though they did use a plastic sticker to seal the box). 

Cons: The construction of the undies doesn't seem super durable. The elastic waistband is almost flimsy and the hems underneath the elastic have rough edges. It’s also worth noting that Everlane has been receiving a lot of backlash lately for greenwashing their sustainability claims. 

Comfort/Fit Grade: B+ (comfortable, but they don't seem long lasting)

Packaging Grade: A- (undies were packaged in a cardboard box sealed with a plastic sticker and shipped in a paper envelope) 


3. If you're looking for girly... 

Reformation, Karen Thong,  | Price: $12

Reformation offers a mid-rise thong with lace trim detail at the waistband and sides. The undies are primarily made from a lightweight tencel fabric, which is made from wood-based cellulose fibers. 

Pros: Overall, I thought undies were flattering and comfortable. I'm not usually big on lace, but I thought the trim was pretty subtle and cute. 

Cons: While the undies were packaged in a compostable plastic bag and paper envelope, I was dissapointed that they included a plastic envelope in the order (as part of their partnership with ThredUp) to donate old clothing. I wish they had just included a mailing label and no plastic bag, or made it optional on the order. They also had the lowest percentage of natural fabric compared to the other brands and the sizing seemed limited. 

Materials: 84% Tencel ™ Lyocell, 16% Elastane

Waist Size: sizing was unclear, comes in s/m or m/l with no details on waist sizes

Comfort/Fit Grade: B (the undies were pretty comfy, but I would prefer a higher percentage of natural fabric)

Packaging Grade: C+ (undies were packaged in a compostable plastic bag and shipped in a paper mailing envelope. They also included a plastic bag from ThredUp to donate clothes)  

 

4. If you're looking for sustainable...

Knickey, Low-Rise Thong | Price: $13

Materials: 95% GOTS Certified Organic Cotton, 5% Elastane

Waist Size: 24-33” waist

Knickey undies are made from certified organic cotton with a low rise and thick elastic waistband. They come in a range of natural colors.

Pros: The undies have the highest percentage of natural fabric (95%), used certified organic cotton and were still an affordable option at $13 a pair. I also loved the color options and sleek, minimal packaging (no plastic, yay!). 

Cons: While the undies were comfortable, I wish the thong portion was slimmer. It was too wide for my liking and tends to bunch up in the booty. I also noticed that some of the threads in the elastic waistband came loose after being washed.  

Comfort/Fit Grade: B (the thong portion was a little too wide)

Packaging Grade: A (undies were packaged in a cloth bag in a cardboard box)

 

5. If you're Looking for a 90's vibe...

Hara, Eva G-String | Price: $35

Materials: 90% organic Lyocell bamboo, 10% Spandex

Waist Size: 24-39”

Hara undies sit slightly above the hips with a narrow gusset and thong for a 90’s aerobic wear vibe. They are made from organic bamboo and double layered with durable zigzag hems. The color options are vibrant and bold and they even use natural plant dyes (impressive!). 

Pros: Hara undies had my favorite color selection, are primarily made from soft organic bamboo with natural plant dyes and seem well-constructed. They also offer one of the widest ranges of sizes and were shipped with no plastic packaging. 

Cons: The fabric was very thick (I'm talking bathing suit thickness), and I prefer something more lightweight for a thong, especially since I wear them under tight-fitting yoga pants and jeans. They were also much pricier than the other brands at $35 (almost 3x the price of the budget options). 

Comfort/Fit Grade: B (the undies look great and seem durable, but the fabric is too thick for a thong)

Packaging Grade: A (undies came in a cloth bag in a home-compostable mailing envelope) 

7 comments

Megan

You mention in the intro that you’ve found some good options with more coverage. Would love to hear about those! :)

Monica Côté

Do you have any other cuts/ styles? I want panties that have more fabric/coverage?

Amelia

Awesome! Love the reviews. Since you mentioned needing these with your tight yoga pants can you review sustainable yoga pants next?! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Christie McCauley

Unfortunately, Pact comes in a plastic bag for each pair.

I have been doing lots of research on Etsy and have found creators who make underwear from high-quality natural fabrics – I would like to see WM branch out and check out a few of those options too.

Whitney

Most of these are just rayon (model, cellulose, tencel, bamboo) which requires chemicals to melt the wood/bamboo into the fiber. Unless you know the mill /supply chain who knows how these chemicals are managed? Rayon is also one of the most difficult fibers to deal with at end of use (both cotton and poly can be recycled for example) and is far less durable as well. It’s hard to find 100% cotton underwear. The French brand Petit Badeau is one of the few I know. I also like Pact which does have a bit of elastic blended with the cotton but are fair trade.

Grace Young

Would definitely love to see some of the (few) fully natural options. Or at least mention which ones can be composted if you cut off the top band when it’s time to dispose of them.

Rebecca

All of these products have some non-natural fibers like spandex or elastane. Though they are in small percentages, do you think it contributes to micro fibers in the waterways when you wash them? Have you cone across any underwear that is made with 100% natural materials? Thanks!

Leave a comment