- Jenica Barrett
Zero Waste Bras, Bralettes and Sports Bras
Updated: Mar 21, 2021
Buying secondhand hand clothing is always best. Most of us though draw the line at used underwear and bras! Although I've purchased a used sports bra or two, I generally stick with new undergarments from high quality companies. These zero waste bras listed below incorporate natural materials, recycled plastic bottles, and upcycled nylon! Each bra is comfortable without sacrificing sustainability so you're sure to find the perfect fit!
Let's be real here and acknowledge that, like most of the fashion industry, people with larger body types tend to be excluded in the sustainable fashion realm. Fat cis-gendered women, non-binary and trans folks, along with everyone else that may wear a bra that doesn't fit a super model definition of beauty, are rarely included in marketing and sizes.
Small, medium, and large tend to be the go-to sizes. Who decided that everyone's bodies would magically fit into just three sizes?? And unfortunately, even some of the companies on this list below fall into the trap of fat shaming and holding to heteronormative ideas of who has breasts worth showing off.
So when you're shopping for bras, look for companies that highlight a diverse array of actually people wearing their bras. Make sure they're not designed by people who a) never wear bras in the first place and b) are only thinking about small chest sizes and finally c) consider the needs of only able-bodied folks.
If you haven't already received this lecture, let me tell you that you need to move away from bras with underwire. Like, NOW! You will soon realize that underwire is extremely uncomfortable and makes your chest hurt way more than necessary. And although the link between underwire and breast/chest cancer had been ruled an urban legend, there is definitely a connection between pinching, red marks, and bruises from wearing underwire bras!
*Take note. Women are not the only individuals that have breast cancer as trans and non-binary persons and men can also develop it. The term "chest cancer" may be used in these cases as the word "breast" can be stigmatizing.
This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission when you purchase a product through these links, at no extra cost to you!
Zero Waste Bras, Bralettes, and Sports Bras
HQ Location: Seattle, Washington USA
Material: RPET (recycled plastic bottles), spandex
Sizes: XXS - 6XL
Highlights: ReGirlfriend Recycling Program, recycled bottle fabric, Fair Trade, woman owned, diverse models
Description: Girlfriend Collective was co-founded by Ellie Dihn and Quang Dihn and makes bras, undies, and active wear out of recycled plastic bottles. The post-consumer bottles are collected from Taiwan and then manufactured in Vietnam. Their bras are each made out of 11 water bottles - how cool! The brand also promotes size inclusivity with all of their products ranging from XXS to 6XL and showing REAL people wearing them in the entire size range.
If I had to pick just one brand of bras to wear forever, it would be Girlfriend Collective because of how comfortable the products are AND because of what their company stands for.
I have two of Girlfriend Collective's bras: the Paloma in blue and the Simone bra in white. I wear a Large which is supportive and tight on me. For a looser fit, I would try an XL in the future.
HQ Location: Stores worldwide! Products made in Vietnam
Material: Trino (wool and Eucalyptus fibers)
Sizes: XS - XL
Highlights: Certified B-Corp, Carbon neutral business, calculate carbon footprint of each product created, incorporate recycled materials such as plastic bottles, plastic free shipping, Soles4Souls partnership
Description: I first got hooked on Allbirds when I tried out their Wool Sneakers (and then immediately bought two more pairs in different styles!) but my love for them only grew once I tried on their soft sports bra! Allbirds is a Certified B-Corporation that goes above and beyond simple actions to make themselves sustainable. They calculate the carbon footprint for their entire business from manufacturing to shipping to the impact their products have when breaking down. To show their dedication to transparency and their customers, they publish the carbon footprint equivalent of each type of shoe, sock, shirt, and bra they make - allowing customers to directly compare that impact with a typical product!
Allbirds also purchases carbon offsets for all of the company's omissions throughout the year, making them a carbon neutral company. The fabrics they use are also primarily natural fibers such as wool, eucalyptus, sugarcane, and castor bean oil. They also use recycled nylon to give it another life and make all of their shoe laces out of recycled plastic bottles.
Their sports bras are made out of their Trino fabric which is made from eucalyptus and wool. The bras have no cup but has a double layer of padding providing a sufficient amount of nip coverage. They are silky smooth and honestly easy to forget you even have on!
"Our Trino™ Bralette is carbon neutral thanks to sustainable practices, like using natural materials and buying offsets. But before we balance the emissions, its footprint starts at 3.7 kg CO2e. Think of this measurement like a nutrition label for your closet."
Allbirds bras comes in at a close second if I had to pick one type of bra to wear forever. The only reason Girlfriend Collective takes the win is because they have a selection of styles whereas Allbirds currently only has one style.
HQ Location: Australia and California, USA
Material: 100% organic bamboo, nylon, spandex
Cost: $20-40 (plus 20% off with my discount code JENICA20)
Sizes: XS - XL
Highlights: Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, EcoCert, FSC certified, 1% for the Planet
Description: Boody is an apparel company that originated in Australia. Their bamboo fabric is grown and produced in China and shipped worldwide. Using a closed-loop system, the bamboo is processed into a pulp with nearly all of the water retained. The solvents are also separated from the water after each batch to be used again. The bamboo fabric is mixed with a combination of nylon and spandex, making their bras and undies soft and stretchy.
I have used Boody ankle socks and classic bikini underwear for the last several years. They are the softest underwear I have ever owned!
I also just started using their padded shaper bra and am totally in love. This bra isn't particularly supportive (by any means) but is so, so comfy and perfect for lounging around the house. I am a 34DD and wear a Large.
Boody is offering my readers 20% off if you use the coupon code JENICA20 at checkout!
Location: California, USA
Sizes: S - 3X with two cups options each
Highlights: non-Black POC-owned, woman-owned, recycled plastic bottles incorporated
Description: Proclaim is a brand of underwear focused on inclusivity and sustainability. They collect plastic water bottles in the U.S. to turn into recycled polyester and mix it with Tencel (wood pulp) to create a lusciously soft fabric. Their "nude" sets of bras and undies break the typical pattern of "nude" by expanding the definition and providing more skin tone colors.
Proclaim is currently accepting pre-orders!
HQ Location: Colorado, USA
Material: cotton, elastane
Sizes: XS - XXL
Highlights: GOTS certified, Fair Trade certified
Description: In most of their products, the cotton is blended with elastane to create a stretchy feel; meaning that they are not 100% cotton. The main downside to purchasing from Pact is that they individually wrap each bra in a plastic bag. Although they have recently launched a new "biodegradable" bag, it is still a plastic bag with added organic compounds that supposedly accelerate how quickly the plastic will break down.
The Very Good Bra
HQ Location: Australia
Material: cotton, rubber, cellulosic material, TENCEL
Cost: $60-80 (+$20 international shipping)
Sizes: 30C to 38E
Highlights: woman-owned, 100% compostable bra!, compostable mailers
Description: The Very Good Bra claims to be the first (and only) 100% compostable bra in the world. Even the sewing thread is manufactured from 100% cellulosic material and cotton thread. Their labels are printed using soy dyed inks so there isn't a single bit of non-compostable plastic in the bra!
Although I haven't tried this bra myself, the reviews from other zero waste bloggers are quite good! The only downside is that it's a little pricey and includes international shipping to get it over here to the U.S.
HQ Location: Denmark
Material: organic cotton, TENCEL, SilverTech
Cost: $47-75 (plus % off with code WISDOMOBC)
Sizes: XS - XL
Highlights: B-Corp, GOTS certified, recycled wool/nylon, carbon neutral
Description: Organic Basics offers a variety of underwear, active wear, lounge wear, and bras. Depending on the type of product you purchase, it'll be made of organic cotton, TENCEL or their fabric called SilverTech. With GOTS Certification and B-Corp Certification, Organic Basics meets high standards of sustainability and social justice. They also offset all of their carbon emissions each year making them a carbon neutral company!
Organic Basics is offering my readers 10% off if you use the coupon code WISDOMOBC at checkout!