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Smalls Talk: say pants to non-organic knickers

The Ecologist

8th March, 2011

Whether organic, upcycled or even recycled, make sure your underwear draw is a green one

Like a perfectly cut pair of black trousers, a pristine white shirt or a pair of black ballet pumps, knickers are an all-season essential that most women take for granted. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that despite the pernicious effect of cotton cultivation, the majority of knickers go straight from linen draw to landfill when the elastic starts to go. So what can you do about it? Buy organic? Make your own? Recycle the old ones? Well, all three actually.

Starting with organic, there’s a whole host of companies making fabulous organic lingerie, some more expensively than others. Top of the list is Pants to Poverty, which makes fair-trade, organic cotton knickers in western India. Making use of the tropical local conditions, Pants to Poverty’s underwear doesn’t put a strain on local water resources and as everything is pesticide-free, doesn’t pollute them either. Sporty underwear giant, Sloggi, has also started making organic cotton smalls, although don’t expect too much in the way of frills; Sloggi’s four-packs, £21, are seriously utilitarian. For something a little prettier, check out Emiliana.

Designer Emma Kidd previously worked at Collette Dinnigan, Pussy Glamore and Beach Bunny Swimwear but was never happy with the brands’ social, ethical and environmental standards. The result is Emiliana, a range made entirely from upcycled fabrics in a host of jewel bright, ultra-pretty colours. There’s even lace involved, and should you wish to try your hand at knicker making, Emiliana sells DIY pants kits, £13.95, which come complete with pre-cut fabric, lace, ribbon and thread. That’s organic and DIY covered, so recycled? You’ve got two options here. One is to use washed-out grundies for cleaning rags, the other is to put them somewhere no-one will see them and turn them into cotton insulation. Either way, it beats landfill hands down.

To find out more or to order Emiliana underwear, email:

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