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How Durable Is Sustainable Apparel? Second Impressions With Organic Basics

Laura Finch on July 16, 2021
Laura is a yoga teacher who completed 200 hours of training.

It's trendy to be green in 2020. Each month, a new fashion brand pops up, profiling itself as sustainable and marketing its products as eco-friendly.

Don't get me wrong - it's truly great that green practices are turning from "innovative" to "normal." But there's one essential thing that many brands overlook on their way to a greener future โ€“ quality.

Sustainability is important, but without the focus on durability, we're not really reducing our footprint. We're just buying the same quantity of short-lived products that eventually end up in a landfill.

So today, let's talk about:

  • why sustainable doesn't always mean durable
  • why we need brands to focus both on sustainability and durability to truly make a difference
  • my second impressions with sustainable fashion brand Organic Basics and whether their underwear stood the test of time.

Sustainable vs. Durable: What's The Difference?

So I've recently done an experiment and asked a few of my friends what they understand under "sustainable products."

Eco-friendly, good for the Planet, recycled, made with careful consideration of resources.

The answers were nothing special. Except for one thing.

Almost all of the people mentioned the adjective "durable."

Which is weird because the reality is that sustainability and durability can be totally separate entities.

So what's the difference?

Durability is the quality of a product to resist wear and tear and maintain its value over time.

Sustainability, on the other hand, is a much wider term that focuses on how the product and its production affect the environment, people, and economy. Here are just a few examples of how brands can implement sustainable practices:

  1. using more eco-friendly or recycled materials that require fewer resources;
  2. supporting local communities where the materials are harvested without restricting their access to the said resources;
  3. creating fair working conditions and paying fair wages to the employees; 4) minimizing the product impact in its afterlife.

Now, here's the tricky part.

Durability and sustainability can overlap. But they don't have to!

Just look at yoga mats made of natural rubber and PVC. The first type can withhold about 2 years of regular yoga practice. And even though it was produced sustainably, committed yogis need to buy at least 15 new yoga mats over the span of 30 years - each with its footprint, no matter how small. Manduka PVC mat, on the other hand, is extremely durable (comes with a lifetime warranty) and is manufactured in a sustainable way.

Which one is better for the environment in the long run?

I guess in the world where graphs on waste weight look like the one below, the answer is not black and white.


What I'm trying to say here is that buying large quantities of products, no matter how sustainable, won't make much of a difference. But changing our consumption habits by choosing products that are sustainable and built to last will.

The longer the products last, the better they are for the environment (and your wallet).

Luckily, there are brands out there who are doing a great job at adding durability to sustainability.

Danish ethical brand Organic Basics is one of them.

Organic Basics Underwear: Second Impressions

I've already raved about Organic Basics in my posts here and here. Thanks to the brand's transparency, I had no doubts about their green practices. It seems like they have the sustainability part all figured out.

But how about durability? After all, you can't judge the quality of the product after a few weeks of use.

Eight months seems like a more reasonable timeframe for that - and that's exactly how long I've been wearing my Organic Cotton briefs and triangle bra set.

Let me start by saying that I didn't expect extraordinary longevity. Underwear never lasts forever simply because it goes through so much use and washing. However, Organic Basics undergarments are not your average undies and do come with a slightly higher price tag (read: higher expectations).

The organic cotton set in a beige color fitted very well into my wardrobe. It's completely invisible under white shirts and pants, so no wonder it has become an essential in my spring-summer outfits.

Considering that I've been wearing it almost non-stop during warm months, the set in general held up very well. Though I had to give the triangle bra a bit of a break during the last two months of pregnancy and switched to a stretchier Tencel bra. This is probably the reason why it still looks impressively good.

After around 8 months of use, the triangle bra is as good as new.

The organic cotton briefs, on the other hand, were stretchy enough to fit my growing body and extra pregnancy weight. None of the seams came undone, and surprise, surprise, the undies didn't get deformed.

The briefs handled pregnancy and postpartum weight gain with no problem.

That said, there are some signs of wear and tear. The thin elastic band around the thighs gave out slightly (see below under #1) and started to unravel (#2). One piece also started to show bits of thinned out fabric, which is invisible on the body but shows against the light (#3).

After 8 months of intensive use, there are some signs of wear and tear.

After 8 months of intense use, it's only fair that the underpants have lost their original aesthetics. But I'm not planning to say goodbye to them anytime soon. They will still serve me well for a few more months. Once the undies wear out, I'll most likely downcycle them by turning them into cleaning rugs โ€“ a great way to give a second life to your garments made of natural fabrics.

The Bottom Line

Many things have changed since I started my partnership with Organic Basics 8 months ago. I moved countries, mentally survived several lockdowns, and even brought a little human into this world. Luckily, what hasnโ€™t changed is my initial positive impression of OB underwear. The brand succeeded in creating something truly special โ€“ a stylish and sustainably made product that is built to last.

Looking for sustainable AND durable basics? Get 10% off your Organic Basics order with code YOGAKALIOBC5 at checkout.

Get 10% off your order with code YOGAKALIOBC2 at checkout.

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