The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

December 18, 2009

PACT: Changing the World through Changing my Underwear

(2017 Update:  Please note that unfortunately, Pact has changed its packaging and is using a lot more plastic.  Specifics about the new packaging have been detailed below.)

This is what happened. I generally hate shopping for clothes. And I really hate shopping for underwear, which you often can’t try on. (How can I know how it’s going to fit and feel if I can’t try it on first?) And now, with the added conviction that my undies have to not only feel good but be good for the planet, finding the right ones has become a real drag. So I procrastinated on buying new ones, repairing my old panties over and over again until they were just shreds of thread. I had a lot of reasons to hope I never got into an accident!

The motivation to finally take care of business came before my trip to Disneyland. I knew I’d be sharing a hotel room with a co-worker. Holy crap! What if she sees my holey underwear? I jumped on Google and once again started my hunt for the perfect pair of panties.

My discovery: PACT. And here I am modeling them…

PACT women's underwear

Seriously, it’s me. Didn’t you know I was an underwear model in a past life? So was Michael. I bought some for him too:

PACT men's underwear

Wanna see what kind we bought for our kitties?

Okay, all kidding aside (I wouldn’t be caught dead flashing my skivvies on the Internet. I can barely manage to flash myself in my own mirror. And I didn’t actually buy any for Michael either, as much as I’d like to.), here’s what’s good about PACT:

1) They are made from 95% certified organic, non-GMO cotton, produced by the Kadioglu Organic Cotton Project in the Izmir region of Turkey. The company chose organic cotton over bamboo or soy, explaining that bamboo requires toxic chemicals to process into fabric, and soy tends to wear out faster.

2) While the company is still working to innovate more eco-friendly inks and dyes, those that they currently use are free from heavy metals and PVC. And they don’t offer any underwear in white because of the chemical bleaches that would be required.

3) Instead of being packaged in individual plastic bags, each pair of PACT undies comes in its own fabric bag made from remnants of the underwear fabric itself, saving material that otherwise would have been wasted.  2017 Update:  Pact is no longer using the fabric remnant bags.

4) PACT underwear is shipped in a ASTM-6400 certified compostable bag, which here in the Bay Area (where PACT is headquartered) can be placed in our green compost bins.  2017 Update: Pact is now packaging its undies in boxes with plastic windows.  When ordered online, undies either come in the window box or a plastic bag.  I’m disheartened by this change.

PACT underwear

PACT says:

Nothing that is shipped to you – the underwear, fabric bags, or compostable shipping bag and labels – should end up in a landfill. We’re hoping that by the time your PACT underwear is well-worn and you’re ready to get rid of it, we’ll have figured out a way to recycle it. We are constantly searching for innovative ideas about how to best accomplish the cradle-to-cradle goal and move away from the idea of consuming and then discarding.

5) The fabric design of each pair of underwear is inspired by a particular environmental organization, which receives 10% of the sales of that design. I chose the designs supporting Oceana, an ocean conservation organization, and 826 National, the nonprofit founded in SF by Dave Eggers to tutor and develop young writers.

While this company is great, there is always room for improvement, right? Here are some things I’d like to see addressed in the future:

1) The panties run small. I bought Large, but I think I might be happier with Extra Large, which is the biggest size available. Those who have met me know that while I’m not skinny, I’m not so very big either. When I asked, PACT told me the company is exploring larger sizes as well as developing an additional style for men. (The current choices for women are: bikini, thong, and boy short; the styles for men are brief, trunk, boxer brief, and boxer.)

2) They are made with 5% Elastane (Lycra) for stretch. While I would prefer a completely plastic-free panty, the company believes that 100% cotton underwear loses its shape quickly and has a shorter life span. I’m not sure I need my underwear to be so stretchy, but your mileage may vary.

3) The compostable shipping bag is manufactured using corn-based PLA. I would love to see PACT develop a compostable bag from a more sustainable crop than corn, since most corn is produced using GMO seeds and requires huge amounts of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers to grow.

Overall, I feel like PACT is a responsible company that considers its impact on the planet very carefully in every aspect of production and shipping. Like all of us, it’s not perfect. But spending the extra money for underwear like this will help to increase demand for organic fabrics and non-toxic dyes. Buying underwear at Costco or Wal-Mart will not.

Okay, Dennis, is that the kind of post you were talking about? :-)

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6 years ago

This is no longer the case. PACT uses plastic in its packaging. The underwear had a plastic window in it’s box and the clothing items came in individual plastic bags. Disappointing.

5 years ago
Reply to  leslie

Confirming. Boxers came in a box with a plastic window. Socks came packaged with the little barbell-thingies that keep the 2 items together.
I can’t speak for the clothing items but it wouldn’t surprise me.
The box was sealed with paper though.

nate hatch
6 years ago

I wear organic cotton as my first choice, I was looking for an organic bedding company as what we sleep on makes an impact as well. Finally found a company with similar ethics as wearpact. check them out

6 years ago

PACT is awesome! I used them for Christmas gifts and a few things for myself. Products were excellent as is their customer service!

7 years ago

How to get away from the carbon footprint that comes with ordering product from countries that have to ship on a plane?? These are great companies and product ideas. But getting them decreases my plastic while massively increasing my carbon footprints. Ideas??

7 years ago

Dear Beth,

Do you have any recommendations for companies that sell 100% cotton bras that come with little to no plastic packaging? Thank you!

7 years ago
Reply to  Beth Terry

Cottonique ships in plastic bags.

7 years ago

I’m sorta shocked to see that its been almost a year since anyone has put in a comment_ oh I guess there are better things to do that look up undies on the internet! But really I want to see people not concerned about how much these cost and looking instead to the amazingness of the people who care enough to make them and how they are so worth supporting
GMO are not to be supported/let’s join in on the common sense of those who care

8 years ago

A decent deal on underwear if you ask me. But going commando would also be another choice to consider too, especially when at home and can wear pajamas without underwear on.

10 years ago

I buy 100% organic cotton underwear (and bras, actually) from They’re expensive but they last for freaking ever. I don’t recall any plastic in the shipping package but since they make everything to order you could certainly ask them to package without plastic.

Socks and Underwear
13 years ago

This reminds me of the edible underwear I got a friend of mine for his bucks night. Its funny how you hate shopping for underwear there’s been studies showing that men between 25 – like 45 done buy much underwear especially if they are in a relationship.

susanna eve
13 years ago

That’s a lot of money for one pair of underwear. I can buy organic cotton underwear locally but I simply can’t pay that kind of money, I never need to buy just one pair of underwear. I am hoping to get some ones made out of recycled t shirts:) I have seen tutorials for DIY undies from old t shirts, maybe I’ll try one day.

Eleanor Sommer
13 years ago

I’ve putting off getting underwear for all the same reasons! But these are a bit pricey! Although I applaud their dedication in all levels of manufacturing and delivery.

13 years ago

Undies were invented to save on laundry – wash the undies, spare the pants. Makes sense when you do 5 people’s laundry with hang drying.

I compost all of our worn clothes once they hit the useless as rags stage.

In fact, I composted Sarah McLaughlin’s turquoise wool pants once they got overly eaten by moths. Jeans. Socks. Mixed fibres. 2 dozen diapers. 1 season.

Undies at rag stage? I give them 2 months. Max.

13 years ago

HOLD ON HERE: What about going Commando? Seems to me that would be the greenest choice in underwear. Of course not so comfortable for the boys-gonads, eggs, balls, what have you, but still.

13 years ago

Can people seriously afford to spend 22$ on one pair of underwear? I would love some of this underwear, but it’s definitely not going to happen at that price.

13 years ago

Well I’m in no need for new undies at the moment, but I’ll have to definetely get some of these the next time I do need to shop for them. So, I’ve saved the link. :)

13 years ago

I found new organic underwear packaged in cloth bags while I was shopping at an Oxfam shop in Cambridge earlier this year. I don’t have imminent plans to get back to England, so thank you so much for this – I need to add to my drawers drawer.

13 years ago

These are so cute! (Maybe too cute as they make me want to buy underwear I don’t really need.) Hopefully they will come out with more styles too – or all FPF readers will soon have matching undies :-)

13 years ago

Thank goodness!! I normally shudder when people say things like this, but thank you Beth for doing the research for me – I’ve been putting it off. Now about bras… ;)

Pure Mothers
13 years ago

I will get some from them. I’ve been looking for an organic bra (I’m finally getting rid of my nursing bras!), but I can’t find nay. The only ones at Gaiam were sold out. Too bad PACT doesn’t make bras too. Maybe int heir future!

Merry Christmas, Beth – and thanks for all your hard work! I’ll keep tuning in.

13 years ago

you can try on underwear!! just keep your underwear on – like a swimsuit. i’ve done it plenty of times. oh yeah, great post ;-)