Chillier days are upon us, which means you’ve likely reached into your sock drawer for a pair of pantyhose to match your outfit of the day. But, how many times have you had to replace them after they’ve snagged? And what’s the average number of times you’ve worn a pair before they showed a run (and had to be binned)?
The environmental impact of hosiery
Unfortunately, the benefits of convenience and better-fitting hosiery has worked against the planet in a big way. Before the discovery of nylon in 1939, stockings were made of silk, or wool, and while they had to be held up with clips or garters, these natural fibres were biodegradable. Nylon hosiery became all the rage after the war, because these were cheaper to produce and offered a better fit for women of all sizes.
However, no form of nylon is biodegradable. Once you’ve thrown away that holey pair of pantyhose, it sits in landfill for hundreds of years. How nylon is produced also adds to the problem: made from chemicals found in petroleum and adipic acid, the combination creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that’s 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Nylon’s manufacturing process requires very large amounts of water and energy, and since many of its producers are in developing countries, there are less stringent regulations around proper disposal of wastewater, and higher probability that mills are able to dispose of toxic water into the seas.
But it’s not all bad news. These days, several companies are starting to produce eco-friendly hosiery (pantyhose, stockings and tights) that are more mindful of the earth. Keep reading to find out how to shop for eco-friendly hosiery and three sustainable stockings brands to support.
How to shop for eco-friendly hosiery
- Look for regenerated nylon
First, opt for brands that use regenerated nylon, or Econyl. This type of nylon has exactly the same features, strength and elasticity as traditional nylon, but is made from plastic already polluting the Earth, like old fish nets, fabric scraps, and industrial plastic that is collected and regenerated to create new nylon fibre and material.
The process not only saves water and energy, it also helps divert waste from landfills. According to Aquafil (the company that produces Econyl), regenerated nylon can be recycled infinitely, so that pair of stockings – once it’s collected for recycling – can be used again to create new stockings!
2. Invest in quality
Second, invest in quality. Choosing products that last and foregoing fast fashion is definitely the easiest way to help the planet. The more you reuse and less you throw away, the better. Support companies that not only use recycled materials, but also support ethical practices and work with factories that do as well.
Ethically sourced means your hosiery is made in workshops where workers are taken care of, there’s no child labor, and the production process is mindful of the environment.
Looking for “stocking” stuffers this Christmas? Here are some green recommendations:
Based in Copenhagen, Organic Basics offers basic tees, underwear and hosiery all designed to last, handpicking every single fabric based on its environmental footprint and lifetime durability. There’s a focus on natural, renewable, or recycled materials, and the brand only works with certified factories that follow ethical and sustainable practices.
Tights and stockings come in recycled nylon blends. Organic Basics also sells Guppyfriend, a washing bag that prevents microplastic from entering waterways, while protecting your delicates.
Available at us.organicbasics.com
Founded in Stockholm in 2013, Swedish Stockings’ products are made from recycled polyamide and recycled elastane that comes from pre- and post-consumer nylon waste, with eco-friendly dye.
The brand has a recycling program and actively encourages their customers to send items they are discarding to their stores. The company also operates a zero-waste, emission-free knitting facility in Italy, that also runs partly on solar power.
Available at swedishstockings.com
British brand Thought carries a whole range of clothing for men and women. The brand’s ethos – putting a little more thought into everything results in a big difference.
It designs with sustainability and ethical processes in mind, and this is carried across its collections, which are mainly from organic and fair trade cotton, bamboo, and recycled synthetics. Thought’s range of tights are made from sustainable bamboo and recycled nylon.
Available at wearethought.com
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