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4 Things To Know About Clean vs. Organic Bras

Are Organic Bras Better? 

You notice the term organic on a bra or nursing bra and you think, yes, that's what I want, it's got to be healthier, I'm going to choose that one. We know, we’ve done it too. Unfortunately, the term organic is often misused. There are some pretty strict regulations around the term "certified organic" and when misused, it's a clue you might be getting greenwashed.

It’s essential for consumers to understand what being organic really means as health-forward consumers, like us at Vibrant, who believe that what goes on your body is what goes in your body. Those shopping for clean bras and underwear are paying attention to what fabrics they choose to cover their bodies - and while they may see organic and believe this means it is toxin-free and sustainable, we have some issues to discuss.

1. The Organic Clothing Market is Not Well Regulated. 

Unfortunately, for non-FDA-regulated organic products, such as clothes, the term organic doesn’t ‌equate to healthy, sustainable, or toxin-free. Regulation varies from country to country, with little effort to penalize false claims. Unlike the U.S. food industry, regulated by the Food & Drug Administration. there is a lack of enforcement and penalization in response to the high influx of organic garments that hit the market. Thus, it has become an easy go-to marketing tactic to entice health-conscious consumers - whether or not the cotton in the bra is truly organic. 

With the industry hailing its sustainability commitments, those labels are both a means of value signaling and enticing to shoppers willing to pay more to feel better about their product choices. 

But there is a big problem. Much of the “organic cotton” that makes it to store shelves may not actually be organic at all. (Source)

Given that hard truth, cotton is one of the most pesticide-dependent plants in the world. Once cotton is harvested, it is chemically processed for uniformity and typically soaked with specialty chemicals like fire-retardants (formaldehyde). These are chemicals that take a heavy toll on human health - from skin irritation to cancers. With such little government regulation, customers should bypass looking for organic materials and instead look for clean garments backed by toxin research, up-front transparency, and consumer education.

2. Any Cotton Is Simply Not Good For the Planet, Organic Cotton Included

Cotton makes up 99% of all organic intimates offerings and has a dark side. It is NOT a feel-good, planet-friendly material to start with. While cotton represents nearly half the fibers used in the textile industry, the methods in which cotton is grown, harvested, and produced have some nasty truths that impact the environment. 

For example, it takes over 2,500 gallons of water and an equivalent amount of energy to make just one pound's worth of cotton bras and undies in your underwear drawer. Most cotton production methods are simply environmentally destructive and unsustainable for generations to come for consumers and their families. 

Organic cotton requires far more plants and much more land to produce than other fibers. That means vast fields otherwise forests, natural habitats that would have otherwise been untouched have been flattened for farming this specific, low-yielding crop. 

3. The Use of Unnatural Dyes and Toxins on Our Skin. 

After the fibers are processed, it is likely bleached and/or dyed using chemically invasive colorants. Aside from GOTS-certified garments, unnatural dyes may not be safe or toxin-free. 

Europe has banned over 1,000 chemicals in products touching the skin, while the US, has banned 40. That means in the US toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, chlorine bleach, lead, heavy metals, and flame retardants can be found in materials used for workout clothes, jeans, baby clothes, and yes, bras and underwear. 

There is reason to be concerned about toxic chemicals in bras and underwear as they lay on top of two of the most porous areas of a woman's body - your breasts and your groin. Heat, moisture, and sweat can create off-gassing of any chemicals in the fabrics, dyes, and foams, enabling the chemicals to then seep into the skin, like a nicotine or vitamin patch might do. 

4. Shop Bra Brands That Align with Your Values and Non-Negotiables.

At Vibrant, everything we do is health-first, with no questionable ingredients. We test every foam used and every stitch that is handsewn into our bras. Through a decade of research on breast health, we have not only produced elevated luxury in its cleanest state but found a passion for educating consumers. Navigating the world of non-toxic, sustainable materials is hard enough. That’s why we’ve listed our list of Dirty Laundry ingredients on those to avoid and look out for in their own closets to swap out for clean alternatives. 

Bottom line - Education is the key to all things, including your health. And it turns out,  organic cotton is not your best bet in labeling when shopping for a clean, ethical bra as you might have thought.