The Most Sustainable Underwear Brands

Manufacturing underwear requires a fair amount of resources — from growing and milling cotton to powering the factories to cut and sew them, and finally transporting them to you. If you want to choose underwear brands that use resources wisely, you’ve come to the right place.

To choose the most sustainable underwear, we vetted over a dozen climate-friendly brands based on supply chain transparency, emissions tracking and reduction, and circularity. We also looked into labor and ethics, packaging and waste, and other environmental efforts. Based on our sustainability criteria, we ranked brands as Good, Better, Best, or Avoid. 


→ Our Top Picks
→ How We Evaluate Brands
→ Brands to Avoid

Before You Buy: Believe it or not, even if your underwear is on its last thread, it could still have plenty of life left in it. 

Textiles make up a sizeable chunk of our landfills, contributing to microplastic waste and methane. When you’re done with your underwear, you can send them to Subset or Trashie for textile recycling. These companies will capture whatever fibers can be reused in new garments, and responsibly recycle the rest.

Commons’ Top Pick

Subset
Organic cotton innerwear with textile recycling program

  • Commons Rating: Best
  • Price Point: $20 / pair (as of June 2024)
  • Locations: HQ in the U.S.; manufacturing in India
  • Transparency: 2022 Impact Report 
  • Size range: women 2XS-3XL; men S-2XL

Subset’s underwear is a thoughtful basic with several styles for women and men, and a decent range of colors.

  • Materials: We’re big fans of organic cotton, especially when it comes to underwear. Subset’s underwear are 95% cotton. Over 90% of Subset’s material profile is GOTS Certified Organic cotton, which is a natural and eco-friendly fiber. Subsets’s sustainability efforts are grounded in materials and that expands to packaging too. Orders ship in 100% plastic free and recyclable packaging, made with FSC-certified paper.
  • Supply chain & ethics:  The brand works with GOTS and Fair Trade certified factories. These certifications works to ensure living wages, safe working conditions, the right to unionize, and no toxic substances. Subset also has its own Supplier Code of Conduct that Tier 1 and Tier 2 manufacturers sign onto.
  • Circularity: Subset works with Supercicle to take back used innerwear from any brand so that the’yre properly recycled. Lightly used bras are cleaned, sterilized and donated to communities in need. Other innerwaer is sorted by material. Garments that are predominantly cotton are made into recycled yard for apparel manufacturing. Garments made with predominantly synthetic fabrics are broken down into fiber lint to be used in furniture, insulation, and more. When you recycle with Subset, you can get up to $25 to use at the brand.

Commons Community Reviews

Reviews from Commons users who have bought from Subset.

Quality: ★★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★★ 

Pros: Love the materials and fit of Subset's underwear (hi-rise briefs in particular). Been purchasing them since 2021 in all the lovely colors they have! Bonus points it's a female-founded brand.
Cons: Underwear does stretch out a bit. Subset does recommend handwashing and air drying them (this is the preferred washing method for all delicate fabrics really).

— Liza M., June 2024, Liza has worn Subset underwear every day since 2021. 

Quality: ★★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★★ 

Pros: I love that these are 95% organic cotton. I prefer high-cotton content underwear for the breathability, and these definitely fit the bill! I've tried multiple styles and find them all very comfy and wearable.
Cons: Because they have such a high cotton content, they do seem a bit prone to stretching. This hasn't really been too much of an issue for me yet.

— Sophie J., June 2024, Sophie has worn Subset underwear a few times a week since April 2024.

Quality: ★★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★★ 

Pros: This is my go-to everyday underwear. I love that it's 100% cotton, hugs and fits well, and feels good on my skin. It's well-made and have lasted me through the years. It's almost seamless too, which I love especially when I do hot yoga.
Cons: wish there are more high leg cut styles for underwear. Those styles are just more flattering.

— Kyna P., June 2024, Kyna has worn Subset underwear a few times a week since 2021.

A More Affordable Option

tentree
Apparel and accessories, offsetting carbon and planting trees

  • Commons Rating: Best
  • Price Point: $15-18/pair (as of June 2024)
  • Locations: HQ in Canada; manufacturing in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, and Vietnam.
  • Transparency: 2022 Impact Report 
  • Size range: women XS-XXL; men S-XXL

Tentree’s underwear collection is pared down, but focuses on the tried-and-true styles: bikini and thongs for women; boxer briefs for men. There are three colors for each style. It’s worth noting that their underwear sizing only goes up to XXL.

  • Materials: About 60% of Tentree’s material profile is organic cotton or cotton in conversion. When it comes to packaging materials, Tentree has made strides to reduce plastic by replacing plastic tag fasteners with organic cotton string, and eliminating individual poly bags on 85%-90% of its products in distribution. The mailers used for shipping to customers are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.
  • Emissions: As a Climate Neutral Certified brand, Tentree measures, reports, and offset its corporate carbon footprint which includes the energy used for its headquarters and the emissions of all the goods and services used by its corporate team.
  • Supply chain & ethics:  Tentree publishes all its manufacturing partners on its website which is an impressive testament to its transpareny. In 2022, the brand piloted a tool to trace over 185,000 of its garments raw material manufacturing through garment manufacturing.
  • Circularity: While intimates are not eligible for Tentree’s Circularity program, customers can resell used Tentree products or send them back for recycling to receive store credit.

Commons Community Reviews

Reviews from Commons users who have bought from tentree.

Quality: ★★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★★ 

Pros:
They are cotton and breathable. Simple and good buy, reasonably priced.
Cons: I haven't had them for long so I can't speak to durability. 

— SP, June 2024Sanchali has worn Tentree underwear a few times a week since May 2024.

Fun Design Pick

Lucy & Yak
Colorful apparel made from organic, recycled materials

  • Commons Rating: Better
  • Price Point: $10-15 per pair
  • Locations: HQ in UK; manufacturing in India and Turkey
  • Transparency: 2023 Impact Report
  • Size range: XS-4XL

If you want to add some color and pop to your underwear drawer, Lucy & Yak could be the sustainable pick for you. With no solids in sight, the patterned underwear come in bikini and thongs for women, and the boyshorts are unisex.

  • Materials: Lucy & Yak’s underwear are made 68% bamboo, 28% organic cotton, and 4% elastane. They’re colored using low-impact Oeko-Tex approved dyes.We love that the brand uses eco-friendly fibers across its product line, including GOTS Certified Organic cotton, GRS-certified recycled polyester, LENZING ECOVERO, deadstock fabric, and other natural fibers like linen, bamboo, and hemp.
  • Emissions: Lucy & Yak uses Greenly, a carbon accounting platform, to measure its carbon footprint and identify the greatest opportunities for reduction.
  • Supply chain & ethics:  Lucy & Yak was accepted into the Fair Labor Association in 2023 and is a member of Sedex, a membership organization that helps companies manage and improve working conditions in their global supply chains.
  • Circularity: Lucy & Yak has its own branded buyback program available in stores and an official Facebook group to trade, sell, and buy Lucy & Yak products secondhand. Intimates like socks and underwear are not eligible for sale or trade through these platforms.

Commons Community Reviews

The Commons community has not reviewed Lucy & Yak yet.

{{cta-join3}}

Other brands we recommend

We chose our top picks to offer you a variety of underwear style and prices, but if these don’t fit your needs or you want to explore more options, here are more brands we recommend:

Best Brands

  • MATE the Label: MATE the Label measures and publishes a breakdown of its carbon emissions and has already taken measures to reduce its impact by using natural, low-impact materials, using renewable energy in manufacturing, engaging in fabric waste-reduction efforts, and launching the circular “Detox Your Closet” take-back program. We are also impressed by their commitment to fair labor and more sustainable packaging. But at $28 a pair, they are a bit a bit pricey.
  • Etiko: We love that Etiko transparently reports its carbon emissions and focuses on using eco-friendly materials, like GOTS-certified cotton and FSC certified natural rubber. It’s even working towards becoming fully vegan. If you're based in Australia, they would be a great choice.
  • Dedicated: Dedicated has built its brand and business model around sustainable fashion, prioritizing transparency, certified low-impact and natural fibers, and ethical labor throughout their supply chain. The brand also tracks its progress by measuring and reporting the breakdown of company carbon emissions. We'd love to see Dedicated move toward plastic-free packaging.

Better Brands

  • Pact: We love that Pact measures and offset the emissions of its products and company operations, and its commitment to using GOTS-certified organic cotton. The brand also minimizes plastic in its packaging. However, we'd like to see more transparency around their supply chain and labor practices, as well as their continued plans for reducing greenhouse gas impact.

How We Evaluate Brands

Commons helps people tap into the power of their collective spending choices to lower global emissions. When we evaluate brands, we’re carefully evaluating the actions they’re taking to meaningfully measure and minimize the carbon emissions associated with their products.

Transparent Supply Chains and Reporting

Openness and transparency encourage trust and build accountability. We review publicly available information, including sustainability reports, supply chain partner information, certifications, and partnerships. If this information isn’t available, we don’t include these brands in our top picks.

Emissions Tracking

We look for brands that measure and share the footprint of their company and/or products. When a company understands what its biggest emissions drivers are, it can make plans to address these drivers while also demonstrating progress against these plans. This involves:

  • Measuring their footprint, ideally in collaboration with a third-party partner.
  • Reporting their footprint publicly, ideally sharing the breakdown of their carbon drivers.
  • Taking ownership of their emissions by compensating their footprint with verified, high-quality offsets.

Meaningful Carbon Reduction Efforts

We look for actions that address the most important drivers of the company’s footprint. For clothing, this includes:

Materials: Certifications are important to understand the sustainability of a material and its processing. A couple of key ones we look for are:

  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A processing standard for organic fibers that tracks the entire supply chain with environmental and social criteria.
  • Global Recycled Standard (GRS): A voluntary product standard for tracking and verifying the content of recycled materials in a final product. This is especially prevalent for brands using recycled plastic bottles.

Energy: We look for brands using renewable energy and/or engaging with their supply chain partners to support decarbonization of their facilities and manufacturing processes.

Slow or Circular Business Models

Our fashion brand top picks fundamentally shift from fast fashion towards slow fashion and circularity. Evidence of slow or circular business models include:

  • Offering take back and/or recycling programs for their products.
  • Recycling or upcycling fabric scraps, rather than letting them go to waste.
  • Focusing on timeless pieces and infrequent collection releases instead of pushing trends.
  • Engaging in made-to-order or batch manufacturing.

Community and Environmental Efforts

Although we prioritize carbon-related criteria in our rankings, there are other important factors that determine how a brand treats people and the planet. Some of these include:

  • Labor and ethics: Fair Trade certifications and a comprehensive Supplier Code of Conduct (audit for factors like a living wage and safe working conditions)
  • Packaging and waste: plastic-free, FSC-certified packaging that is recyclable and recycled
  • Other community and environmental efforts: This can include donation programs with nonprofit partners, projects that uplift communities near their supply chain partners, and more.

Commons’ Brand Ratings

  • Best: Best brands are measuring, reporting, and actively reducing their emissions. They don’t have to be perfect, but they must have evidence of progress and of tailored strategies to continually improve their footprint.
  • Better: Brands must meet more than one of our climate-related criteria. For example, a brand may not be measuring its footprint, but they are making earnest efforts to address the common drivers of emissions for clothing companies.
  • Good: Brands must meet at least one of our climate-related criteria.
  • Avoid: Brands that meet none of our climate-related criteria.

Brands to Avoid

The business model of fast-fashion brands relies on overconsumption, unethical labor, and fossil-fuel-based fabrics. We recommend avoiding these brands when buying underwear or other clothing:

  • Shein
  • H&M
  • Zara
  • Forever 21
  • Uniqlo
  • Mango
  • ASOS
  • Temu
  • Amazon and Amazon Basics

For a more expansive list of fast fashion brands, check here

SHARE THIS BLOG

Join the community

Join thousands of people saving money and earning rewards through sustainable living, only on the app.

Commons team hiking
Thrive Market
Wholesaler of healthy food from leading organic brands
Commons Team
June 17, 2024
JOIN THE COMMUNITY
Get practical tips to live sustainably and save money.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By subscribing to our newsletter you are opting into SMS, should you provide your phone number.
SHARE THIS BLOG