This Local Fashion Brand Wants You to “Plant” Your Underwear — All for Mother Nature’s Sake
This month, participate in The Big Favorite's "Soil Your Undies" campaign to help improve the health of Philly-area soil.
In November of 2020, designer Eleanor Turner launched The Big Favorite, a Philly-based circular fashion brand aiming to reduce the amount of textile waste. (The most recent data show that 11.3 million tons of textiles ended up in landfills in 2018.) The company does so by creating undergarments and shirts made of recyclable, plastic-free pima cotton fiber, and turning your worn, washed, and no-longer-wanted items into recycled yarn.
Now, The Big Favorite is making strides once again to improve our planet with a project that goes directly into the Philly-area community. The brand recently teamed up with several state environmental groups — Pennsylvania’s Natural Resources Conservation Service of Pennsylvania (NRCS), PA Soil Health Coalition, All Together Now PA, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Pasa Sustainable Agriculture — to raise awareness around soil health through an interactive, voluntary, and totally fun eco campaign.
Participating in the “Soil Your Undies” campaign is simple — and great for sharing giggles with little ones! Grab a pair of 100-percent-cotton underwear, gardening gloves, and some kind of digging tool. Then, “plant” those undergarments in your backyard, front lawn, or neighborhood green space (just make sure you’re not trespassing or destroying any endangered plants). The goal is to get your goodies into the ground within the first three weeks of June, but really, any time works.
After 60 days, dig up those soiled bottoms to gauge how healthy your local soil is. How will you know? Well, the more decomposed the underwear is, the better the soil. That’s because cotton — a non-synthetic fiber made of the natural sugar called cellulose — serves as “an appetizing food for microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and nematodes to enjoy,” according to The Big Favorite. In other words, a bunch of microbes in healthy soil will end up chowing down on your buried undies.
If your knickers aren’t super decomposed, don’t fret: The Big Favorite and its partners will share tips on how you can engage in better long-term soil health practices based on the level of deterioration.
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If you’re thinking this all sounds silly, it isn’t — even though the planting process is bound to be a good time. Knowing about and improving soil health is important for a number of reasons, mainly because soil integrity is constantly at risk due to overdevelopment, landfilling, and excessive fertilizer and pesticide use. It’s all about better-functioning ecosystems, says Lisa Blazure, soil health coordinator at Stroud Water Research Center. “As we improve our soils, it changes the way that water flows across the land. Healthy soils soak in more water, allowing plants to thrive, adding to the groundwater, and keeping local streams flowing with clean, cool water.”
Though the campaign has occurred globally in the past, Turner wanted to help spearhead the challenge at the local level to get area residents thinking more about how our clothing choices impact the environment. “Microplastics from clothing are one of the biggest threats to soil and water health — and to human health — and they are prevalent in clothing, especially in underwear,” Turner says. “When people begin to question the health of their soil, it’s a catalyst for having more conscious consumption habits and exploring the health of the wider environment.”
Follow The Big Favorite on Instagram to see how others’ undies fare, and share your findings with the hashtag #SoilYourUndies.