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My 7 Favourite Ethical + Sustainable Lingerie Brands

November 07, 2017
What rests next to our most prized possessions might be amongst the most important to align with our values in the realms of ethics and sustainability. 

For health reasons having non-breathable planet harming fabrics created with toxic chemicals next to your skin is far from ideal. The nasties hidden within the fabric of your undies (and clothes) not only seep into the environment harming the planet and its inhabitants - but also directly into your body through your skin (which absorbs 60% of what is put on it)y. 

Just last year, a Greenpeace investigation revealed the presence of hormone-disrupting phthalates in Victoria's Secret underwear at levels that would have led to the product being BANNED in the EU had it been a toy (they have since promised to not put a shit ton of chemicals in their gear, though no proof of change has arisen).

Every mainstream underwear brand there is has a terrible sustainability reputation. Victoria's Secret, for example, has received an E-label for sustainability which is the lowest possible sustainability score there is. The label indicates they care very little about the planet's health and their customers health, putting profit over people without blinking an eye.

As well as being safe to wear, your lingerie should make you feel empowered, yet there is nothing empowering about flouncing around in products produced by exploited women. Or in Victoria Secret's case, exploited children ... 

The brands I've selected for my own lingerie drawer, are ones which prove Victoria's Secret's wrongs can easily be switched with a few transformative tweaks. Creating lingerie as affordable and beautiful as the VS Angels sport, without all the pain and poison.  

ECO + ETHICAL HOW?  Svala creates beautiful upcycled lace lingerie which somehow fits perfectly, even when your size has been guessed by owner Helga. Svala's collection is handmade in their LA studio, meaning the entire line is made fairly and gets the love and attention it deserves. Each of their tags, labels, and promotional materials are printed on 100% recycled paper. 
MY REVIEW? Their collection is simple yet sexy, the type of thing you can feel alluring in no matter the day or outfit. I have two sets of their Vivien Lace underwear, they camouflage against your skin so you can wear the bras under almost anything and their underwear don't pinch the skin at all, they sort of glide along and move with your body. I was just sent two pairs of these babies and I've got to say, they're damn pretty and fit to perfection.  
SVALA Vivien Lace

ECO + ETHICAL HOW? This French brand is run by my pal Julie here in Paris, she is an incredible seamstress and creates her entire collection in her home studio. In true French style, she's found a way to marry comfort and style mixing classic and modern materials and NO WIRES to sculpt the body. Each of her creations are a true piece of art, beautiful and comfortable, practical and sexy.
MY REVIEW? I discovered JAAD at La Manufacture Onirique here in Paris, at La Manufacture's closing party I finally tried one of her Tropical Aphrodite bras and immediately adored how it made my boobs look. My breasts aren't that big, and in a previous life I would put on the most horrifically uncomfortable push-up bras to create the same effect, but with no wire and no padding, she'd somehow created a bra that does all that work and is comfy. Julie, the designer, later gifted me the undies to match which are super cute and comfy as well. But the bra takes the cake.
JAAD Tropical Aphrodite

ECO + ETHICAL HOW? The little black dress of the eco + ethical lingerie industry, Aikyou's undies fit like a second skin. They cater to women with small breasts and women who have had mastectomies creating gorgeous, flattering pieces that seamlessly streamline under any garment.  Their entire collection is made from fair trade-certified organic cotton, the yarn for which is spun, knitted, and dyed in Germany. They use green electricity, and they ship with DHL's GoGreen using second-hand cardboard boxing and recyclable packaging. 
MY REVIEW? I've got the Stella Bra and Coco Undies, there is ZERO metalware on this bra so you just slip it on over your head and it so comfy I have to sometimes check if I'm even wearing it. The Stella Bra is super low cut so you can wear it with just about any top, including t-shirts which it seamlessly hides under.
AIKYOU Stella Bra & Coco Undies

ECO + ETHICAL HOW? White Rabbit NYC creates stunningly soft everyday intimate basics. Each beautifully designed piece is ethically made in Mexico by a family-owned manufacturer that employees mostly women, with 100+ years experience in crafting lingerie. The fabric used is sustainably sourced bamboo rayon and they work with an eco-friendly knitter that is OEKO-tex certified, meeting international safety and environmental standards. The brand is philanthropic too, supporting female empowerment by donating a percentage of their sales to Fabrica Social, a non-profit organisation that supports the development of female artisan communities in Mexico by providing training and merchandising support. 
MY REVIEW? They kindly sent me The Ann Set in Burgundy (pictured above) and it quickly became a fast favourite. The thong feels weight free and leaves zero underwear line, which as an avid legging wearer is important to me. The bra feels as comfy as a sports bra, supportive but not constricting in the slightest. It’s the type of lingerie to wear under a sloppy sweatsuit or a fancy night out; suitable for sexy times or slothy Sundays. 
WHERE TO BUY? | USA | ** Use code Holly-WR for 10% off your first order

ECO + ETHICAL HOW? Clare Bare creates eco-friendly / ethically made lingerie that is draw-droopingly sexy. Clare infuses true artistry into each design, upcycling salvaged fabrics and trim to create some truly unique and creative pieces using organic dyes and original silkscreened artwork. Each piece is handmade in her L.A studio, and I can say as an owner of two sets of her creations, the quality is spectacularly on point. 
MY REVIEW? I own two sets, the uber sexy hand dyed Escapade Mesh Lace Set and the super sweet upcycled cotton Scrunch Set. Each piece accentuates your assets in a natural way that makes you feel stunningly sexy. I have a habit of wearing my Escapade Mesh Lace Set to knock the socks off my husfriend when I strip down before bed, transforming frumpy to frisky in a matter of seconds.
CLARE BAR (left) Escapade Mesh Lace Set | (right) Scrunch Set

ECO + ETHICAL HOW? While the name kind of represents, in a cheeky way, everything one wants to avoid in terms of undies, the concept behind their creation, is conscious. The underwear collection, for ladies and gents, is made with Organic Pima Cotton which is grown on family farms without the use of GMOs. Each waistband is made out of recycled plastic water bottles, helping reduce the landfill heap. The brand is also philanthropic with $4 of each purchase going to one of nine 4-star charities. 
MY REVIEW? I have a pair of their Laurinda Hipsters and my husfriend has a pair of their Philip Boxer Briefs. They're super soft and comfy and fit really nicely. 
SVALA (left) Vivien Lace Set | MARC SKID (right) Laurinda Hipsters

ECO + ETHICAL HOW? The Scandinavians never cease to amaze me. Swedish Eco has created a collection of undies for men and women which fit like Calvin Klein undies but they're made with GOTS certified organic cotton and dyed with Oeko-tex 100 Standard colouring, which excludes any harmful substances present within processed textiles intended to come into contact with consumers.
MY REVIEW? I have the Grey Melange set and they're lovely. I wear the sports bra 4-6 days a week when I work out, and it is super supportive and comfy. Plus it looks cool, which is always an added bonus. 
SPONSORED POST: This post was sponsored by multiple brands, each of which I personally selected and approached for this collaborative post. As always, the story, including all content, experiences, suggestions and opinions, are my own. I was gifted at least one item for review from each brand listed.
AFFILIATE LINKS: There are a few affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase from one of these brands I may receive a few cents from the exchange. Consider it a sip of coffee from you to me.

Top Tips From 13 Conscious Bloggers On Making Halloween Good + Green

October 27, 2017
Switching into the wild world of sustainable living reveals pretty quickly all your errors as well as the issues with the ways of the world as it stands. If you're paying attention, as each public 'holiday' rolls round, you'll suddenly become acutely aware of how much unnecessary waste and unconscious commerce is created.

In the months leading up to Halloween, big urgent orders for cheap Halloween swag results in garment industry workers being forced to work long hours for very little pay. To add to those horrors, most costumes are made out of polyester which is derived from the oil industry and is non-biodegradable. Americans spend 6.9 billion on Halloween alone, most of which ends up in our landfills. There are various things you can do to adjust one's habits to align with your morals, and I've partnered up with my fellow Ethical Writers & Creatives Coalition members to offer ideas and options for such efforts, all of which are laied out below.

For example, creating your own DIY costume by upcycling second hand, or swapping last year's costumes with pals, are a sustainable alternative to purchasing new.

Before I moved to Europe, Halloween was an event I’d start preparing for as soon as summer had ended. My mum had always encouraged us to make our own costumes as kids and I got really into making my own costumes out of second-hand clothing over the years.  

I’ve got a few DIYs online for some of the costumes I made in the past if you’re looking for some costume upcycling inspiration (they’re from way back so forgive the formatting/photos):
- My pride and joy, an OWL COSTUME I made out of an old bodysuit and some funky printed fabric which I cut into feathers. I’ve also got a separate DIY for the OWL MASK which you can find here.
- I made a CLOWN COSTUME out of an upcycled oversized shirt I got at a second-hand store and a blouse which was stained and in their $1 bin.
- I also made a DISCO COSTUME out of a second-hand blouse, adding it on to.
Halloween is my favorite holiday, because A. I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and B. I love dressing up in costumes! I don’t really participate in the candy aspect anymore – all that sugar and disposable wrappers are not my style – but I do love a good costume. There are a couple things I keep in mind when planning my outfit.

1. The outfit is not culturally appropriative or offensive to a marginalized group.
Sexy Pocahontas, sexy genie, sexy Egyptian goddess, sexy soldier – all of these costumes reduce real groups of people who already suffer from elevated rates of sexual assault – American Indian women, Indian women, Egyptian women, female soldiers – to a sexy trope. That sends a message to dumb men that these women are for having sex with, and nothing else. Please avoid.

I wrote a Refinery29 article about this, if you would like to learn more about when a costume crosses the line from cute to not OK.

2. The outfit is sustainable.
The amount of cheap polyester manufactured to be worn once and discarded in the name of Halloween makes me shiver. If you really must go with mass-produced Halloween costume, there are plenty of places to rent one! StyleLend has the most chic costumes, but Costumes Galore will hook you up with something warm and fuzzy, or just plain fun.

Otherwise, I’m always the most impressed and engaged with interesting, creative costumes that someone made using things right in their closet. The guessing game is half the fun! If you have to buy something to complete the look, try eBay, Etsy, or a secondhand site or store first. And aim to buy something that you’ll wear again, or that you know you can resell afterwards. Last year I bought an American Apparel velvet dress and striped black leggings, then borrowed a lace-up bustier from a lady friend to make my goth costume. I ended up getting appendicitis that weekend, so I have no pictures for you. But I’ve worn the dress and leggings several times since!
Ever since I graduated from university, I haven't been very festive. That's probably out of sheer laziness for the most part, but also partly from thinking about all the cheaply made, possibly toxic and nonbiodegradable waste that's generated from all of these single-use decorations and accessories. But actually, I'm thinking I should start participating in such events again -- just with all of the green knowledge I've acquired over the past years to prove where there's will to do things greener and cleaner, there's a way.

For treats, for example, we can buy healthier ones in bulk and serve them in large wooden bowls. For costumes, we can get creative and make something out of our old clothes or even trash (e.g., old newspaper, cardboard boxes, food wrappers, ...etc.). Or if we're lazy and don't want to D.I.Y., we can go treasure-hunting at second-hand stores to buy done-for-you costumes passed on from their previous owners -- costumes that honestly have only been worn once before. We can even make a pre-Halloween party out of this treasure-hunting process.

I’ve never been big on Halloween. For the last couple of years, the vibe of the holiday have really creeped me out, and not in a good way. Celebrating demons and death is not my thing. Haunted houses are—pardon my French—scary as fuck. So I’m making my Halloween sustainable by not participating and doing something else. I’ll be going to a classical music concert. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra will be playing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. That’s kind of scary, right?

While I’m eschewing Halloween, I still like costume parties. I usually get creative by reworking what I already own or by borrowing clothes from people. In the past, I have rented costumes. Recently, I dressed up like a nerd by borrowing clothes from 5 real-life nerds.
Ever since college turned Halloween into just another opportunity for getting wasted and romping around scantily clad, I have gracefully declined to participate in the holiday. Instead of drinking or candy-binging, I prefer to spend time with my boyfriend (our anniversary is on Halloween after all - but that's another story) enjoying a warm home-cooked meal. But before I became a Halloween-Scrooge, I was the queen of homemade Halloween! Three Halloween costumes from my childhood that can be (and sort of were) done sustainably:

1. Harry Potter - everyone's favorite fantasy character can be easily mimicked with a pair of your nerdy friend’s old glasses, a striped scarf, a blanket worn as a cloak, and a bit of eyeliner (non-toxic of course) to make that defining lightning bolt on your forehead.

2. A washing machine - no really, I was a washing machine one Halloween. This is the ultimate upcycling costume; all you need to do is take a big old box, paint it white, cut a door in the top and armholes in the sides, and glue some old bottle caps on to act as dials! I might even call this my greatest Halloween costume ever.

3. A black cat - yes this is perhaps the most basic of costumes, but it avoids the need to buy new things and steers clear of inappropriate appropriation territory. Simply don all black everything (making this the easiest costume for anyone who lives in NYC) and use that non-toxic eyeliner again, but this time for a nose and whiskers. Make ears from a headband and scraps of fabric and you're ready to go!

FRAN | Ethical Unicorn
I get the feeling that a lot of EWC members are based in the US, however I am English. Because of this I get a little weirded out by how intense the American love for Halloween is. We do celebrate, but why get so excited when you have Bonfire night just 5 days later? I mean, you get to celebrate a foiled attempt to blow up Parliament by blowing up loads of fireworks in the sky instead, and that is fun.

Although commercialisation and rising popularity of Halloween has definitely crept into the UK over the years, when I was growing up if you went trick or treating you were just as likely to get tricked with a water gun in the face than you were to get candy (for real, this actually happened to me about 10 years ago). I grew up with parents keeping it a bit more fun, chill and eco-friendly, and this is how I’d like to celebrate when I’m older. We used to play games and have fun at home as a family, doing things like bobbing for apples, hangman, and baking. My parents were never anti-Halloween, they were just English, so a lot of my early memories associate it a lot more with time spent together being silly. It’s just nice to know that you can still get spooky, dress up and participate without having to buy into consumerism of a. unsustainable costumes or b. way too many sweets (disclaimer, I did still get some sweets).

However, if you are planning on going all out for Halloween, please don’t culturally appropriate!
JEN | Honestly Modern
Although I don’t have an exceptional affinity for Halloween, I have two young boys who think Halloween is pretty sweet. I don’t mind getting into the holiday spirit on their behalf, but I’ve built a few parameters around our plans each year in an effort to be a bit more intentional about how we celebrate.

For costumes, we buy solid colored everyday clothes (a new pair of sweatpants or long sleeve shirt, for example, if needed) that provide a base for a costume. They wear these pieces many times after the holiday. We finish the costumes with things we already have around the house. Last year, they dressed up as Elmo and Captain America. This year, they plan to be ninjas. My boys are only 5 and 3, but I don’t think they know yet that stores sell pre-made costumes. Eventually, they’ll figure it out, but I’ll keep that section of the store a secret as long as possible.

When collecting candy, I’ve intentionally provided the boys with small containers or bags so they fill up quickly. Not only do we run out of space for more candy, but they’re happy that their bags are “full of candy”. Two years ago, we used pint-sized Halloween buckets that we reuse for other purposes. We’ve also upcycled old t-shirts into trick-or-treating bags using a sewing machine and using fabric tape instead of sewing.

I grew up in South Africa in the 80’s and 90’s; Halloween was something we saw on American TV shows and movies. We never celebrated Halloween at all (they do now), sp I find the whole concept of Halloween to be quite strange. My husband, on the other hand, LOVES it, all of it, and calls me the Halloween Grinch. I’ve come to terms with this label!

A good DIY costume is key, and in most cases, you can create something fun with items you already have. But the bigger issue is the consumption of chocolate from brands that don't have the best track record when it comes to human rights and environmental stewardship.

The documentary film The Dark Side of Chocolate is a very revealing and disturbing look at child trafficking in the Ivory Coast and how that relates to the harvesting and purchasing of cocoa beans.  As the film illustrates, the cocoa bean business is competitive and the desire for cheap chocolate in first world nations like Canada and the USA only increases the demand placed on these countries.
In the USA alone, people spend $2 billion on Halloween Candy. A few years ago a lawsuit was filed against Hershey, Mars and Nestle claiming that they were “duping consumers into unwittingly funding child slave labour trade in West Africa, home to two-thirds of the world's cocoa beans”.
Another film Slavery: A Global Investigation depicts children as young as 11 years old, working 80 to 100 hours a week to harvest cocoa beans.

This is a much larger issue for sure and one that calls for open dialogue between the companies that make the chocolate and the local government who accept large kickback from the same companies.
There are things we can do. First off, buy ethical chocolate. It's more expensive, but at least you have peace of mind that no child was hurt in the process. You can also check out THE GOOD GUIDE CHOCOLATE GUIDE, World Vision’s guide to ethical chocolate.  Also look for third-party certifications like Fair Trade Canada, Fair For Life, Fair Trade USA and Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Here are a few brands that I like:

I realize this is a hard sell for some as most people don't want to preached to, especially during a “holiday” like this. But hopefully, this will open people's eyes to the issues of over-consumption during a “holiday” that, in my opinion, has become even scarier. Bottom line, I make my Halloween more sustainable by being mindful of the items I buy and the impact they have on the world.
MEGHANN | Kiss that World Halloween is. my. jam. It is mostly the costume part that gets me hot under the collar. Since I was a wee tot I would daydream for months about crafting an elaborate costume, which usually turned into some semi-recognizable, Pinterest fail version. I still really enjoy the daydreaming and as my motor skills have improved- creating has also gotten better.
I love the challenge of turning the ordinary into extraordinary and whenever I can wear a moustache - even better! Aside from a few sexy (and probably insensitive) times in college, I have managed to find the most comfortable, cost-effective costume by using things I already own. Last year, a sheet turned into a Whacky-wiggly-waving arm guy. Honestly, it’s amazing what you can do with duct tape and a dedication to make believe.
If you don’t have all you need- borrow! What’s the point of having friends if you can’t raid their closet? And check out thrift stores. They have gotten extremely good at curating for the holidays.
As far as individual wrapped candy goes- my house does not get many Trick-or-Treaters. Bulk is best- but unfortunately, those poison candy rumours ruined it for everyone… So I am going to convince my SO to look for organic brands we trust wrapped in cardboard. (Which might be raisin’s but hey, they’re nature's candy right?)
OLIVIA | Today We Will Newsletter
With my birthday two days before Halloween, I always have a Halloween/birthday party. And, I love it! Well, I love putting events together and dressing up, so double yays.

For the party, here are things I do to stay sustainable:
- Reusable decorations that are not made from plastic but things like fabric banners, metal pumpkins, etc.
- Serve only finger food on non-industrial compostable plates and napkins...and I actually compost them
- Serve all plant-based foods
- For costumes, I use a mix of things I already own and vintage at a local store.
- For candy, I give away Dots. They come in a cardboard box and are vegan.
I tend to go with the flow for Halloween, so each year is a different event. Some years I’ll go to a friend’s costume party. Other years I’ll go to the hair-raising Halloween Extravaganza at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine — yes, it’s really a church! They show a silent movie accompanied by live organ music followed by a procession of ghouls right down the aisle. Another year, I checked out the big parade in the village. But the constant the last few years has been my costume: Little Edie Beale. After I watched Grey Gardens, for whatever reason I loved her and thought she was just the best character. I put on tights and a turtleneck topped with a bathing suit, add a scarf and voila — the best costume for today.

It’s dead simple to create a costume from clothes you already have or thrift something you will keep wearing. Combine a trend of the season with a topical costume and you win Halloween. This year, I’m loving the red trend and Carmen Sandiego or 60s inspired and The Love Witch.

With your costume sorted, you can keep the ghastly waste of Halloween to a minimum by decorating with natural materials like pumpkins and paper, switching to bio glitter, and serving up homemade party treats with real plates and glasses. I don’t have kids or get many trick-or-treaters in my building, but if I did, I’d definitely look for palm oil free, vegan candy to pass out. It’s gonna cost me more, but it will cost the environment less.  
NATH | Beauty Calypse
Halloween is a favourite in la case BEAUTYCALYPSE. Even my blog’s name lends itself beautifully to an Ecogothic/ Ecohorror theme. So, of course, there is a whole collection of articles dedicated to making Halloween (or Samhain) greener, including recipes and entertaining tips – a Healthy Halloween Best Of!

Several articles about toxins lurking in the “conventional” decorations and costumes, among which Beware of Toxic Halloween, are the darker but much-needed part of the story.

And because I don’t feel like supporting the “sexy ____” costume trend, I tend to pick obscure and majestic figures, for example, a Celtic goddess, Helen of the Ways.

To share a few helpful links:
My favourite to send out paperless party invitations is definitely Paperless Post, for all the look and feel of exquisite stationery with no actual paper or printing or shipping involved. And the website Take Back Halloween is a great source of information for women who, like me, want their costume to celebrate a goddess, a queen, or an awe (or fear) inspiring mystical creature.
TAHIRA | Beauty By Tahira
I have always loved Halloween and have rediscovered my joy of it via my son. Keeping it Ethical and sustainable is easy for me because I will not put anything on my son’s skin that makes me feel uneasy.

There are many water-based non-toxic, cruelty-free makeup brands out there to use and even Natural Face Paint. For the grown-ups, Cruelty-free makeup abounds and liven things up with biodegradable glitter from shops like Eco-Sparkle Fun or Eco Stardust  perfect for festivals and holidays. True Glue offers all-natural lash adhesive and Ethical Lashes.

Costumes are always some sort of upcycled outfit. Last year cleverly placed bandanas and some clothes we already owned became a pirate outfit, and this year the DIY outfit is a painted cardboard box.

We also have a birthday party close to Halloween so I am always conscious of the footprint our party will make. Festive accessories that are biodegradable are easy enough to find online. There are even some speciality shops for Eco Children's parties, with Natural Latex Balloons that are biodegradable. Out Party favours are always useful and somehow sensible like fun pencils rather than small plastic toys. This year we have the added bonus of making our own pinata out of recycled free newspapers and a recycled cardboard box.


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