sustainable textiles

Wonder Crop: Why WAMA Underwear Uses Hemp

WAMA Hemp Underwear sustainable fashion review stylewise-blog.com
This post was sponsored by WAMA Hemp Underwear and I received an item for review. Styling and research are my own.

I feel like I should start this post off with a disclaimer that I'm probably not your typical underwear model, nor do I have any desire to be. 

But I liked the idea of styling a pair of full coverage undies both for the challenge of getting over my modesty qualms and because underwear is one of the few garments that really does feel like a necessity. And since we're likely to go through dozens if not hundreds of pairs in a lifetime, it's one of the most important sustainable switches we can make.
WAMA Hemp Underwear sustainable fashion review stylewise-blog.com
In my Ethical Undies roundup, I mentioned (or rather implied) that I tend to prefer cotton thongs or full coverage boy shorts over other styles because the specific shape of my butt and hips makes bikini and "cheeky" panties ride up, causing discomfort and an awkward panty line. Under thinner and more form fitting clothing, I go for minimal coverage.

But with vintage denim, trousers, and bias-cut dresses, full coverage is where it's at, which is why I am excited to introduce you to WAMA...
WAMA Hemp Underwear sustainable fashion review stylewise-blog.com
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, WAMA released a limited collection of thoughtfully designed and produced underwear for men and women.

If there's one thing that sets them apart from other underwear brands, it's that WAMA makes their undies with hemp. 

An increasingly popular textile in the sustainability world, hemp is prized over more traditional fabrics like cotton because it is less resource intensive:
  • It takes half of the cropland to produce the same amount of finished fabric
  • It uses 1/3 to 1/2 of the water needed to grow cotton
  • It is pest resistant, requiring fewer pesticides
  • It causes less soil depletion
  • It is considered more durable and long-wearing than cotton

In addition to to its environmental benefits, hemp is naturally anti-microbial and breathable, making it perfect for underwear.

So why doesn't everyone use hemp?

If you've been reading up on sustainable textiles, you probably know that hemp agriculture and production is restricted in the States due to its chemical and visual similarities to marijuana (they're close relatives). Yes, you can get high on some forms of hemp, but it is possible to use only hemp containing very low amounts of THC, the chemical that makes your high, when growing it for textile production. 

The US is the largest consumer of hemp in its various forms, but almost all of those products are imported due to continued misconceptions and concerns propagated largely by lobbyists and lawmakers.

WAMA ethically produces their undies in a carefully managed, GOTS-certified (an organic textile certification) factory in China, a country where hemp is expertly cultivated for textile use. To ensure proper regulation, one WAMA team member is based in China so that they can access the factory whenever they need to.
WAMA Hemp Underwear sustainable fashion review stylewise-blog.com

About the Hemp Hipsters

WAMA's Hemp Hipsters for women are made from a hemp/organic cotton/spandex blend. They have a soft, unstructured waistband and just enough structure at the legs to stay put without causing discomfort. The fabric is denser than a standard pair of underwear you might buy at a place like Victoria's Secret or Target and feels almost like a thicker version of soft pima cotton. 

On my "pear shape," these are a true low rise cut and still feel a bit "cheeky," but they don't create the loathed wedgie, which is basically a miracle for me. I plan to wear these under my vintage dresses for a bit more coverage in the wind. On someone with a smaller butt, these would likely work under form fitting clothing without creating too much VPL (visible panty line). Overall, I give these an A- for fit and an A+ for style and fabric quality. I'm wearing a Medium here and have 39" hips.

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I really do believe that as the sustainable fashion sector continues to grow, the US will reduce its restrictions on agricultural hemp and we'll be on our way to creating a soft and sustainable hemp-topia. But it's always good to have options like WAMA. 

Use code, STYLEWISE20, for 20% off your order through May 31st.

Shop WAMA here.


WAMA on Social Media: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Is Faux Leather Really Better? The Environmental Costs of Leather Substitutes + Eco Alternatives

environmental costs of leather substitutes and eco-friendly faux leather
This piece was written by Emily Folk.

Be sure that the fake leather clothes you’re wearing are actually environmentally friendly.

Being concerned about the environment and the creatures on the earth is a noble gesture. It ensures that we have a place to call home long into the future. To help reverse some of the damage that has already been done to the planet, people are discovering new ways to be environmentally friendly and practice sustainability.

One way to help the environment and animals is to look for clothing that is made out of synthetic leather. This practice saves animals from being used strictly for their hides and has an impact on the environment—or does it? New evidence shows that using PVC and other common leather substitutes might negatively affect the environment.

PVC

PVC clothing is also known as vinyl. It’s the shiny leather-like clothing, and it is still used in the fashion industry today. However, producing PVC is incredibly dangerous—both to humans and the environment. PVC releases toxic chemicals during processing, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), vinyl chloride, dioxins, ethylene dichloride, furans and mercury.

Polyurethane

Polyurethanes were first invented in the 1930s. They can be turned into fine threads, which can then be combined with other materials to make fabrics. Some of the most common fabrics polyurethanes can be found in include spandex, swim suits and to help hold up socks.

Because polyurethanes are derived from oil, they will only last as long as the oil supply lasts. While their production doesn’t produce as many toxins as the production of PVC, the oil mining process impacts the environment. For those who are trying to reduce negative impacts to the environment, you might want to reconsider wearing polyurethane as an alternative leather.
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If both PVC and polyurethane are harmful to the environment, are there any leather alternatives that won’t make an impact? Yes! Below are some novel materials that are being used to create vegan leather.

Cork

Cork is considered to be the most environmentally friendly material for creating fake leather. It is water resistant, durable and easily recyclable. Because it comes from trees, it can be grown sustainably to lessen the impact on the environment.

Waxed Cotton

This material is waterproof and durable. It can look and feel like patent leather, without the need for harsh chemical treatments to produce it. Using organic cotton ensures that you are treating the earth kindly but looking great at the same time.

Tree Bark Leather

Like cork, this product comes from trees and can be grown and harvested in sustainable fashion. It is both durable and strong, not to mention unique. Since it comes from trees, the grain’s pattern will vary, making it so that whatever is made from the material will be one-of-a-kind.

Pinatex

If you’re looking for a truly sustainable form of fake leather that doesn’t require extra water, land, pesticides or fertilizers, Pinatex is the answer. It is derived from cellulose fibers that are extracted from pineapple leaves. It looks and feels like cowhide, and it is durable and watertight. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it is also economically friendly for pineapple farmers.
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Taking care of our environment is the responsible and right thing to do. There are a variety of ways to accomplish the task, and using fake leather products is one way to make an impact. However, not all vegan leathers are environmentally friendly. Being informed about what is good for the environment and what isn’t allows you to decide what’s best for you and the earth.

About the Author:
Emily Folk is a freelance writer and blogger from Lancaster, PA. She covers topics in conservation, sustainability and renewable energy. To see her latest posts, check out her blog Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter.


Places to Find Environmentally Friendly Faux Leather:

Photo by Camila Damásio on Unsplash