Can compostable undies prevent waste?

Used underwear is hard to recycle and fills up landfills. But what if we composted them?

Clothes are often difficult to recycle and fill up landfills because they contain blended fabrics and plastics.

Some you can at least donate, repurpose, or swap — but typically not used underwear, ~11m pounds of which wind up in landfills daily.

So, what can be done?

Old underwear can be repurposed as padding, which D2C brands Knickey and Parade do with their takebacks.

But because demand for such materials is low, some companies are turning to compostable unmentionables, per Bloomberg.

LA-based Kent has sold 17.5k pairs since 2020.

  • They’re made from long-lasting pima cotton, and retail for ~$25 per pair.
  • You can compost them yourself or mail them to Kent to compost them for you. Research found they break down in ~90 days.

Sounds great, but…

… there are a few hurdles.

While not the most expensive underwear out there, eco-conscious brands are pricier than ~$11 six-packs from Amazon.

Those who’ll splurge for the environment may not have a compost bin, and many facilities don’t take clothes.

Alden Wicker, author of To Dye For: How Toxic Fashion is Making Us Sick, told Discover magazine she wouldn’t recommend composting fabric for food-growing soil until there are universal compost standards for textiles.

Those without bins can still use takeback programs, however, like Kent’s or The Big Favorite’s, whose ~$16-$32 undies are turned into yarn.

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