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12 Ethical Bras That Put Everyday Comfort First

12 Ethical Fair Trade Bras That Put Comfort First

It's hard to find an ethical bra that in any way resembles the lightly padded, underwire bras most women are used to wearing on a regular basis. As much as I love the aesthetic and ideal of a simple, unlined bra, I feel more comfortable with a small amount of padding, particularly under thin t-shirts.

I have long had the intention of creating an Ethical Bra Guide, but to be honest with you, I couldn't find a good, everyday bra for my A cup and it seemed disingenuous to share when I hadn't even found something to suit me.

That changed once I discovered Patagonia's Barely Bra, so today I'm doing my best to share ethically produced bras in several styles for a range of body types and sizes. My apologies if you notice a gap in sizing or comfortable options for larger bust sizes. My experience as an A cup is all I know. Please do feel free to make suggestions in the comments!

This list contains a few affiliate links.


Unlined:

12 Ethical Fair Trade Bras That Put Comfort First
If I'm wearing a sweater or a fancy dress, an unlined bra with a deep V does the trick. The Aria bra was made fairly by a woman named Alba Betancur using upcycled and eco-friendly fabrics.

Svala Vivien Lace Bra, $65

Made in the USA from recycled, remnant lace.

Larkspur Luella Longline Bra, $57

I reviewed this piece a couple years ago and really like it as loungewear bra. Good under thicker tops like sweaters, too.

Lightly Padded:

12 Ethical Fair Trade Bras That Put Comfort First


Patagonia Barely Bra, $45

This is my go-to style. At my cup size, I don't really benefit from underwire, not to mention that the structure was beginning to cause chest discomfort. The Barely Bra is made of recycled polyester and spandex with removable padding.

Prana Dreaming Bra, $35.40 (on sale)

Made fairly with recycled polyester, the Dreaming bra features an intricate strap detail with removable padding.

Prana Soleil Bra, $49

More of a workout or lounge piece, the Soleil bra is made a nylon/spandex blend with removable padding.

12 Ethical Fair Trade Bras That Put Comfort First Push-Up:


Naja Helena Push Up Bra, $52

If you like to add a little oomph, the Helena Bra will do the trick. This style is currently available in B to DD cups only.

Underwire:


12 Ethical Fair Trade Bras That Put Comfort FirstCoco Caramel Bronze Silk Bra via Azura Bay, $105.51 USD ($139 CAD)

Feminine and structured, this bra was handmade in London using upcycled fabrics.

Naja Steffi Bustier, $85

With a caged band detail and removable straps, the Steffi bra was made fairly.

Sports:


Threads 4 Thought Kala Sports Bra, $42

Made from recycled polyester and spandex, this bra features an inspiring message, "Be the change," on the bottom band.

Synergy Organic Clothing Native Summer Yoga Bra, $21 (on sale)

12 Ethical Fair Trade Bras That Put Comfort FirstA lightweight bra for low impact activity, this piece was made fairly with GOTS certified organic cotton.

Patagonia Active Compression Bra, $55

In a recycled nylon blend, this bra is more supportive and contains odor control properties.




P.S. I'm collecting thoughts and stories on the Women's March. I'll share as soon as I can. 

Inward and Outward: A Pre-Inauguration Reflection


I wrote this piece for the Numi Organic Tea blog as a Resolutions Post, but I thought it was appropriate to post here, on the eve of the Inauguration. Though it's always been important to be vigilant protectors and defenders of justice, the rate at which things could take a turn for the worse feel overwhelming. This post represents my first step, but the work isn't done.

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As I sit here staring at this bright, blank page before me, I consider what it looks like to start fresh.

In life, we don't often get a blank page to work from - we all have baggage and commitments from our past that we carry forward - but I think it's right to get ourselves in a head space that allows us to imagine new and better lives for ourselves, and for the world.

As author Barbara Kingsolver once said, "Hope is a moral imperative." At the start of a new year, we collectively determine to hope so that we can make progress.

Too often, though, the resolutions we make feel like a collection of chores predetermined for us by the masses. Eat well, exercise, go to bed on time. While all of these may be admirable, for me they just aren't meaty enough to propel me forward. This year, I want more.

My hope for 2017 and beyond  is that I develop the kind of habits that lead to seeing the world through the eyes of kindness and justice. 


When I started writing on justice issues, my particular focus was on making more ethical purchases. That meant avoiding sweatshop labor and prioritizing sustainable raw materials sourcing. Simple enough, right?

But the Catch-22 of thinking about and working toward justice is that everything is interconnected.

Depressed wages in developing nations are a direct result of political and economic decisions enacted by domestic and foreign governments. The fact that demand still exists for low wage jobs is due, in part, to cataclysmic social shifts that force people out of now unsustainable agrarian lifestyles and into the cities. At each step in the supply chain, someone has been asked to cut costs even when there's nothing left to cut. It's an impossible race to the bottom. There are no winners.

Demanding fair wages is just a start. It won't fix broken systems.

I mention all this because it serves as a microcosm of the broader problem of having a pet issue without considering the big picture. But the big picture can be totally overwhelming. It can overload us to the point of shutting us down. What's the solution?

Put another way: How do I learn to see big problems in their even larger context and respond effectively and compassionately, without total overwhelm?

I believe the first step forward comes from within.

There are relatively immediate, physical lifestyle changes I can make in my life that will have a positive effect on the world. I can shop and eat sustainably and responsibly, for instance. But for long term change, you need buy in, and you only get there when you've changed your point of view, when you see the world through new eyes.

To that end, my resolutions for global change are deeply intertwined with the small, daily tasks of just being in the world. The key is being in a way that shapes you into the person that can effectively bring about long term progress. 

1. Practice humility. 


The first step is admitting that I don't have the complete picture, and maybe I never will. To be clear, I can learn from and trust my own interactions, but I can't necessarily make drastic conclusions based on my highly individualized experiences.

To cultivate humility, I will seek out communities that challenge what I think I know without dismissing me. My workplace is a dynamic and diverse environment, so I will start there, working to have productive conversations on politics and ethics around the lunch table.

2. Think local. 


The concept of social justice didn't really click for me until I joined a local community organizing group. When you work with people you live near, you already know what's at stake for your community. That relative intimacy helps you work through personal issues to find solutions. It reminds you that people - including yourself - are deeply flawed, but that imperfection is not a barrier to doing good.

To cultivate local engagement, I will stay in touch with people working toward systemic change in my own community.

3. Cultivate intention.


I manage a retail space, so on any given week, my life bumps up against the lives of at least a hundred people, from volunteers to staff to customers. I've realized over the last few years that each time I make eye contact with someone, I have a responsibility. I can make someone's day better or not affect it at all (hopefully, I never make it worse). I choose to do what I can to make it better. My shop recently committed to "see our customers as the unique people they are, and celebrate it." Imagine what a difference that could make if we clearly and intentionally projected that ideal. Imagine the hope.

To cultivate intention, I will consider the way I interact with every single person I come into contact with and do my best to celebrate them for who they are, and who they can be.

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I want hope to become habit. 


And the only way to get there is to, slowly but surely, let my heart be changed. I know it won't be easy, but it's worth it for global change.

How to Prepare for the Women's March on Washington

Women's March Preparation and Resources
"Hear Our Voice" by Liza Donovan - Download here.

I'm attending the Women's March!

#WhyIMarch

Over the last several months, I've spent a lot of time stewing over the best way to make a difference in a country that has been and remains a threatening and degrading space for thousands of people. While local and state activism, including making phone calls to representatives, is vital, what's become apparent to me is that most of the policies we promote on both sides of the political spectrum have a glaring tendency toward embracing the "good enough" short term fixes instead of long term solutions.

Defending policies like the ACA matters, but putting pressure on politicians only goes so far. For long term change, we need to mobilize and befriend.

On a personal scale, I've been trying to cultivate attentiveness and intention, reaching out to friends, coworkers, and customers who seem like they need someone to talk to, or just need a compliment or a reminder that they matter to someone.

I believe the Women's March can serve as a large scale version of this frame of mind. For me, it's less about what policy change happens as a direct result of the march and more about showing solidarity. It's about being in one place with the women and men I admire, from priests to bloggers to old friends.


There's power in community, as I've learned from participating in a healthy church, and you don't have to be completely unified to stand together.


I am marching because women, and particularly women of color, still need feminism. I am marching because strong women and men in my life are going, and they are showing me that it's good to overcome fear and make a move. I am marching because my friend from middle school who grew up under the same patriarchal structure as me is going, and there's something beautiful and full circle about marching next to her.

I march because I believe that it matters to look into the faces of strangers of all ages, people who do and do not look like me, and say together that we will keep moving forward.

Getting Prepared

This is only the second march I've ever attended, and the only one with real security requirements, so I've been reading up as much as I can on how I can best prepare for the day.

In terms of security, the Women's March outlines what you can and cannot bring. I've copied the full text below (read more FAQs here).

All backpacks and bags may be subject to search at the March, and those not conforming to the standards set here may be confiscated or asked to be left behind. Backpacks are not permitted unless they are clear and no larger than 17"x12"x6" (colored transparent bags are not permitted).

  • Bags/totes/purses for small personal items should be no larger than 8”x6”x4”.  
  • Specifically for people who would like to bring meals, each marcher is permitted one additional 12”x12”x6” plastic or gallon bag.  
  • For marchers who have medical needs or for mothers who need baby bags or breast pumps, please ensure that your supplies fit into the above clear backpack. You can have one backpack per individual in your group, as long as they abide by the above guidelines.
  • If you are a member of the press, covering the event officially, and have equipment that will not fit into bags of the above dimensions: please contact the National Communications Team to get press credentials in advance in order for your equipment to be allowed into the rally site.
  • If you require disability accommodations or related equipment, that will not fit into the above bags, please enter via the ADA Accessible route: 4th St. SW from C St. to Independence Ave.  For anyone using Metro, please get off at Federal Center SW and use 4th St. to enter the rally area.
  • Canes, walking sticks, walkers, and portable seats are allowed for individuals who require them for mobility and accessibility on a regular basis.
  • Do not bring anything that can be construed as a weapon, including signage with any kind of handle (e.g. a sharpened wooden stick). We recommend also checking with your bus company if your bus will be secured during the march and if you can leave larger belongings in the bus, rather than carrying them all day.

Note that you are not permitted to bring large handbags or backpacks. Additional Inauguration Week security requirements restrict metal containers (like Klean Kanteen water bottles).

The March organizers also recommend checking the forecast frequently throughout the week and preparing for very cold weather. It may rain, so make sure shoes and coats are water proof, and wear comfortable shoes.

Here are some suggestions for what to bring from Detroit Free Press:

  • Thermal underwear beneath your clothes
  • Winter gear such as a scarf, gloves, balaclava and hat
  •  A coat that is insulated comfortable and waterproof with a hood 
  • Waterproof shoes or boots that have been broken in and are suitable for walking long distances. 
  • Travel-sized wet wipes and/or tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A paper map of Washington, D.C.

An official Inauguration Security list can be found here. One can assume Women's March security will be nearly identical.

Know Your Rights

Read up on your rights on the ACLU website.

Other Resources:


Due to some circulation issues I have in my extremities, if the forecast takes a turn toward incredibly cold, I will likely attend Charlottesville's sister event instead. 

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Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments.

Also, let me know if you're going!!