Last Updated on December 28, 2023
The number 1 place to go organic is your underwear drawer and here’s why:
1. Avoid Toxic Chemicals in Your Underwear
One huge reason to switch to organic cotton underwear is to reduce toxic chemicals exposure, especially in such a sensitive area of the body. The clothing industry is notorious for lacking regulations regarding harmful chemicals, resulting in the presence of concerning substances in garments. PFAS, phthalates, NPEs, amines and Azo-Dyes, lead, and formaldehyde are some examples found in clothing.
While organic cotton does not guarantee the absence of harmful chemicals, certifications such as GOTS and OEKO-TEX ban and test for many hazardous substances used in production.
2. Cotton has Good Breathability and Absorption
Due to it’s natural fibre structure, cotton is one of the most breathable fabrics and an ideal choice for underwear and our skin in general. Cotton also is good at absorbing moisture, making it more comfortable. While synthetic fabrics tend to do the opposite – trapping air and moisture which fosters bacterial growth and potential infections. Even synthetic underwear often incorporates a cotton gusset because of its suitability for that particular area. Gynecologists regularly recommend natural fabric underwear as a healthier choice.
3. It’s Durable and Can Handle Regular Washing
While durability is typically associated with sturdy materials like denim, it’s equally essential for underwear due to the frequent washing it requires. Comparing natural and cellulose fibers, cotton performs better than bamboo, modal regarding abrasion and also holds up better than silk and wool with regular machine washing. While linen and hemp offer greater durability than cotton, they lack the softness cotton provides as underwear.
Fiber and material quality, especially longer cotton fibers found in organic cotton, contribute to the durability of the fabric.
4. Better Worker Health
The concern over toxic chemicals in clothing extends beyond consumer health. Farmers and garment workers face even greater risks due to daily exposure of pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful substances. Many of these chemicals have been linked to immediate health effects such as nausea, breathing problems, and skin irritation, and long-term exposure is associated with chronic health issues including cancer, respiratory problems, neurological disorders, and reproductive effects.
Cotton farming also contributes to water pollution when pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers run off into local ecosystems, posing environmental and health hazards for the surrounding communities.
5. GMO Cotton has Worrying Long-Term Sustainability
The focus on long-term environmental impact is crucial when discussing the sustainability of organic cotton. While genetically modified (GMO) cotton varieties initially displayed some promising features, significant challenges such as resistant pests, secondary pests, and the emergence of “super weeds” is very concerning. These issues not only lower the yields initially promised by GMO crops but also have overall increased pesticide usage. This cycle of resistance then requires the need to continuoysly develop new strains and new herbicides and insecticides.
While on the other hand greater research and education around organic cotton farming shows potential for a positive environmental impact while also increasing yields. Organic cotton may not be perfect but it offers a much more optimistic future compared to GMO cotton.
Where to Buy Organic Cotton Underwear
Check out this list of some of our favorite brands and top sustainable and non-toxic underwear picks.