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PSA: Pact Organic Is A Greenwashing Master. Where To Buy Real Eco-Friendly Undies

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Dumplings, it is with a heavy heart that I write this call-out piece, because I don’t like naming names in general and we try to keep things positive (add more good stuff to your lifestyle) than negative. But this time, I really couldn’t let this one go, and it’s a brand that we’ve even praised in the past: Pact Organic.

Pact Organic is one of the best-known brands for organic cotton underwear, bras, and loungewear. We’ve been very vocal about using organic cotton, which has about 50% emissions impact of conventional cotton, and uses less water and pesticides. So when my undies started getting honest-to-goodness worn, I was excited to replace them with Pact Organic.

I purchased them online for the first time and giddily opened the package when it arrived. I was shocked to discover that the box, which was unnecessarily huge for just 3 pairs of underwear, was filled with plastic air bubbles. There is absolutely no need for fabric underwear to be protected from shock and movement–I think they can handle it! This made me extremely upset, but I was still willing to give them another shot.

The next time I ordered from them, I was scared to even open the box. Not only was this filled with air bubbles, but each individual pair of underwear was wrapped in a clear plastic bag. I was so nauseated looking at these piles of plastic–even mass retailers like Victoria’s Secret don’t individually wrap their underwear, creating unnecessary plastic waste that will never decompose and end up in the bodies of marine animals and birds.

I wrote to their customer support and this was their response: “We use poly bags to protect PACT clothing throughout the manufacturing, transport and shipping processes. As anyone who’s traveled knows, lots can happen in transport! From dust and dirt, to bugs and bacteria, to plain old rips and tears, damage during transport is greatly reduced when we enclose PACT items in poly bags.”

I’ve been buying underwear unwrapped in plastic my entire 31 years of life and never have I been struck with “dust and dirt, bugs and bacteria, rips and tears” that they speak of. Hey, Pact, if you can’t create textile products that can’t withstand a simple Fedex delivery, then maybe you shouldn’t be a manufacturer at all.

Even this wasn’t the last injury. On two days straddling World Ocean’s Day (6/8), their multiple “Celebrate World Oceans Day with $10 Tees” emails were the most hypocritical and dishonest corporate marketing I’ve ever seen.

Pact Organic, please stop pretending you're eco friendly

Pact Organic, please stop pretending to be eco-friendly to make more money. All your unnecessary packaging is especially harmful to the oceans, so please *don’t* milk World Oceans Day to make a buck.

This just makes their breathy, lovely About page look so creepy.

Pact, your business *is* coming at the cost of the planet. Don’t lie to us with a straight face, and don’t underestimate the intelligence of consumers.

Baby albatross with plasticThis is not a trash can. It’s the stomach of a dead baby albatross.

Plastics of all kinds float around the surface of the water and end up in the stomachs of these poor creatures. (Shot taken with my cell phone from Albatross the film screening.)

A side of me feels that reasonably affordable and truly eco-friendly organic underwear was…too good to be true. Pact Organic felt like a dream I wanted to believe in. But the good thing is that there *are* ways you can still wear underwear and be eco-friendly. After all, going commando is only comfortable for so long.

How To Buy Truly Eco-Friendly Underwear

  1. Try to buy at a retail location, rather than online. Packaging is the largest plastic use by far at over 40%, and it’s only gotten rocket fuel thanks to the rise of online shopping. Unless something is absolutely reachable to me only by online order, I always buy at a retail location. That means books, travel guides, most clothing, and underwear henceforth.
  2. Other brands to try: Boody Eco Wear is a line of men’s and women’s underwear and activewear from Australia. I found them at my local health food store wrapped just in paper–no clear film of any kind!! I only hope that they practice the same kind of packaging frugality if you order from them online. It looks as though they sell at plenty of retailers, too.

This doesn’t even have a clear film and I’m not grossed out whatsoever. You know what’s actually dirty? Plastic waste floating around the oceans.

3. Zero Waste Bra? The Very Good Bra is a completely biodegradable, Tencel (eucalyptus fiber) bra that is so natural, “it can be buried after you’re done wearing.” Actually, as an avid composter I don’t recommend randomly burying your textiles, but I get it. Most organic cotton or bamboo products have some synthetic fibers, which are of course a part of the oceans’ microplastic crisis. But The Very Good Bra uses rubber sourced from sustainable forests for elasticity, which means it’s completely…clean.

The Very Good Bra - world's first zero waste braHave you been outraged by a greenwashing company before? Sound the alarm, below!

 

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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling; Very Good Bra

Juhea Kim
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Juhea now lives in NYC with her Oreo cookie cat, Zeus. When she is not writing, she enjoys running in Central Park, yoga, and teaching Barre classes. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, Google+ and Pinterest.
Juhea Kim

@peacedumpling

Peaceful, Inspired Living. Our goal is to spread peace, in body, mind, and soul. Editor-in-chief Juhea Kim. #vegan #wellness #naturalbeauty #yoga #fitness
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  • Tonia Brow

    I recently purchased under pants and socks from PACT…I honestly don’t recall what the packaging was like. Like you, I am always suspicious of companies’ claims but really want to believe! I appreciate you offering a couple alternatives. I agree that it would be wonderful to not have to order organic, fair trade items online. Unfortunately, I live in a small city that has not embraced offering anything like that yet!

  • Having worked in retail, I do know that the stores do have their underwear and most items shipped wrapped in plastic. So even if you’re not getting the items individually wrapped, chances are they WERE individually wrapped at one time. However, you’re absolutely right, any retailer that markets themselves as eco-friendly absolutely needs to adhere to basic eco-friendly standards. I’m not shopping at PACT anymore.

    • Jessica

      I was thinking the same. I’ve never received mailed intimates that haven’t come wrapped in plastic. That’s a complaint I have about bulk bins, too. No matter how zero waste it is for you by bringing your own containers (which I do frequently, and avoid buying things outside of the bulk section if possible so this is just a comment on the ubiquity of single use), the items are most likely arriving at the store in a disposable container most likely plastic based. I have ordered from Pact, and I do think that there are ways they could improve the packaging (perhaps a compostable box they are in….).

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