Would you wear a pair of old knickers?
Let me try again, would you wear a pair of recycled knickers?
Ok, put it this way, would you wear pants that had started life as waste destined for landfill?
I wasn't sure I would. I mean, I re-use leftover food, I wear pre-loved and vintage clothes, and insist on recycled paper - but is underwear going a step too far in the bid to save the planet?
Not according to young eco-entrepreneurs Cindy Liberman and Faith Leeves of new lingerie brand Lara Intimates. Cindy tells me, "40 billion metres of unused fabric is wasted every year when it is leftover or wrongly dyed. In the UK specifically there is approximately 350,000 tonnes of textile waste going to landfill sites annually". Cindy says that Lara Intimates "work with a UK supplier that sources luxury surplus fabrics from around the world. We call it 'reclaimed fabric'".
Lara was started by Cindy and Faith when they graduated from the London College of Fashion and couldn't find nice underwear that wasn't literally costing the earth. Theirs is a conscious brand intent on reducing the size of unsustainable fabric mountains - by making bras and knickers out of them.
The pair buy up discarded textiles on the way to the dump, bring it to their East London studio, and craft their underwear. They vow to use every scrap and create no further waste. The website provides a revolutionary 'Trace Me' button on each product page so that customers can easily find out how their pants started life.
Visiting them online I'm keen to try out the new Find My Size Tool too, which simplifies bra-fitting down to a couple of measurements. I enter my digits, get a result of 30B, order a bra and enjoy that warm, connected feeling I sometimes get at the Bottle Bank.
A couple of days later the black "Coral" halter bra arrives in the post. Made of two layers of sheer fabric with a pretty gold ring detail and clasping, it has a soft wide underband and no wires. I like the look of this. Flexible enough to be a bralette, but with the craftsmanship and thoughtful design of a high-end bra, and all made in the UK from stuff no-one wanted!
I wear the bra all day and am hooked. It's comfortable and trendy with its double layered vintage look. The underband is firm enough to lend support, but not so tight as to feel restrictive.
At my size, I'll be honest, I don't really need a bra, but for those days when I want to wear a tight-fitting or revealing top and nipple peekage threatens, I can now slip on something that will fit properly with both my body and my eco values.
So it might just be that the time for responsible knickers has come. Faith and Cindy certainly believe so and have just launched a kickstarter to fund their project.
No more excuses for environmentally dodgy drawers then: I'm now a convert...just like my underwear.
Karen Dobres, Chief Freedom Fighter