Sometimes the most effective action is no action at all. Going commando refers to the practice of eschewing underwear and applies to both men and women. It's one of the easiest, fastest, and cheapest ways to lighten your wardrobe's environmental footprint.
Find it! Products to help you go commando
Make your underwear-free transition a little easier with these commando-assisting products.
Going commando helps you go green because…
- It avoids the damaging chemicals and environmentally unsound farming methods used in the production of conventional cotton, the material most underwear is made of.
- It lightens your laundry load, reducing energy consumption and the amount of chemical cleaning agents that may affect ecosystems by contaminating soil and groundwater.
- It cuts back on landfill waste.
The detrimental environmental impact of the underwear industry is rooted in the harvest and production of conventional cotton, considered the world's most pesticide-intensive crop. While only 2.4 percent of farmland worldwide is dedicated to cotton, it accounts for 24 percent of global insecticide sales and 11 percent of global pesticide sales. In total, $2 billion worth of chemicals are sprayed on global cotton crops each year, almost half of which are classified as hazardous by the World Health Organization.
The various chemicals used to treat conventional cotton can harm beneficial insects and soil micro-organisms, pollute ground and surface water, and adversely affect the health of humans and wildlife alike—including fish, birds, and livestock. Additionally, up to 70 percent genetically modified organisms (GMO) seeds are used in conventional cotton farming in the United States.
Once underwear is brought home from the store, it'll inevitably require washing. Home laundering is a frequent necessity that consumes large amounts of water and energy. Eighty percent of the energy that goes into clothing is attributed to laundering rather than the clothing's production or distribution process. The national laundry load amounts to 35 billion home laundering cycles per year, which cost an average household about $150 annually.
An easy way to circumvent these problems is to go commando, a practice that has become increasingly popular in recent years. One 2004 study of 7,000 people by underwear manufacturer Freshpair found that between 25 percent and 30 percent of Americans go commando on a semi-regular basis, while 9 percent of men and 7 percent of women go commando every day.
Related health issues
Going without underwear may have health benefits for women. Some doctors recommend that women sleep sans panties to allow the vulva to breathe.
It has been suggested that tight underwear, such as briefs, may produce scrotal hyperthermia and lead to clinical subfertility for men. However, some studies have suggested that it is unlikely that underwear type has a significant effect on male fertility.
- genetically modified organism: A GMO is created by merging the genetic make-up of two organisms, resulting in a desired byproduct that could otherwise not be found in nature. Engineering GMOs is a common practice in conventional farming, and studies have shown that GMOs pose significant environmental risks such as killing off living, natural organisms and becoming immune to pesticides.
- Organic Consumers Association - Clothes for a Change: Background Info
- Earth Justice Foundation - The Deadly Chemicals in Cotton
- Organic Exchange - About Organic Cotton brochure
- Fiber Source - Energy and Environmental Results
- US Department of Energy - Energy-Efficient Appliances
- Rocky Mountain Institute - Home Energy Briefs: #6 Cleaning Appliances
- Biology Daily - Going Commando
- Queen's University - Vulvar Health Hints
- Rose Men's Health Resource - How to Enhance Your Fertility (and help to ensure a healthier baby, too)
- Journal of Urology - Abstracts for References 2-5 of 'Patient information: Treatment of infertility in men'