Personal Style, Pop Culture

The Hanky Panky Lingeriecycle Program Debuts in Time for Earth Day

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Those comfy thongs with a cult following, Hanky Panky panties were first made by Gale Epstein and Lida Orzeck using repurposed embroidered handkerchiefs (so that explains the name). Safe to say that eco-friendliness has been a priority since Day One. Hanky Panky shares its sustainability policy loud and proud, stressing made-in-the-USA carbon savings, low-impact dyes and fibers (expect 100 percent organic cotton by 2025) and recycling of textile waste, packaging and shipping materials. #impressive

“As we all become more dependent on synthetic textiles that don’t biodegrade, we’re also more aware that we must be better stewards of our planet. Most used garments can be handed down, repurposed or donated, but intimate apparel—specifically panties and bras—cannot,” Gale told Bare it All.

For the best support, industry experts, including our Bare Necessities amBRAssadors, recommend replacing your heavy-rotation bras about every six months. What’s a girl gotta do to keep pieces that have lived out their useful lives from ending up in the trash heap?

This month, in time for Earth Day, they’re taking things a step beyond…by bringing you into the fold.

Lingeriecycle™, Hanky Panky’s new sustainability initiative, helps divert worn-out, no-longer wearable items from clogging up landfills, where more than 10 million tons of clothes wind up every year. Hanky Panky is even covering the processing costs for customers in exchange for taking greater ownership over the eco impact of its garments.

“It is the right thing to do for the planet. We hope that in the future, all brands and retailers will take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of the items they sell, and we are proud to lead the way for the lingerie industry to transition into a sustainable future,” says the mission statement. “In keeping with Hanky Panky’s 40-year commitment to sustainability, the brand has partnered with a textile waste management organization, B.R.A.Recycling Agency, to make it easy for customers to mail in their old, worn-out bras and panties, which will be shredded and remade into carpet padding.”

Through Lingeriecycle, Hanky Panky will provide single-use envelopes free of charge, which customers can fill with panties and bras of any brand. Add postage and drop into the mail to the recycling center address pre-printed on the envelope.

Look good, feel good, do good.

Hanky Panky Lingeriecycle FAQ

Q: What happens to items sent for recycling?
A: They’re sanitized and shredded. Metal components such as underwires, hooks or other hardware are removed using magnets and sent to a metal recycler. Fabric and other “fluffy” components are converted into carpet padding.

Q: How many bras or pairs of underwear fit in to the envelope?
A: It depends on the size and style of bras and panties. The sturdy Lingeriecycle Tyvek® envelope measures 13”x10” and can withstand some stuffing. You can fit fewer large items, or more small items inside. Up to 24 thongs can fit comfortably, 4 average-sized underwire bras or a mix of items.

Q: What if I need more envelopes?
A: You can request up to 5 envelopes at no cost to you with any hankypanky.com order.

Q: Can I mail items for recycling in my own envelope or box?
A: No. Each proprietary envelope has been issued a waste management permit for recycling, and these permits are not transferrable to other packages or envelopes.

Q: Do you have a drop-off location?
A: Due to waste management regulations and the nature of this recycling program, items must be packed in our Lingeriecycle envelopes and mailed directly to the recycling plant. It is not possible to drop off items for recycling.

Q: Can I send any other items?
A: You may send any brand of bras, bralettes and/or panties. Other items are not processed for recycling.

Q: Do I need to wash everything first?
A: Yes. Items will be sanitized and shredded when processed for recycling, but please be considerate and send items that have been laundered.

Q: What happens to rejected items?
A: Any packages without permits (i.e. those not in Lingeriecycle envelopes) are rejected and discarded. Items unsuitable for recycling will also be discarded.

Q: OK, my Lingeriecycle envelope is full and ready to go! How much will it cost to mail my envelope?
A: As postal rates and regulations are always changing, and the envelopes will have varying weights depending on what is enclosed, we cannot accurately estimate postage costs. You may either take your envelope to the post office, or if you have access to a small scale, you may use the USPS postage calculator.

Q: I live outside the United States. Can I participate?
A: Unfortunately, due to customs, import duties and other regulations on international shipments, we are unable to accept packages from outside the United States for recycling.

Q: Is there a discount for recycling bras?
A: No, it is an expense that Hanky Panky is covering for our customers in order to take responsibility for the environmental impact of our products.

Q: Why don’t you donate the bras to the homeless?
A: We highly encourage you to donate gently worn bras to your local homeless or women’s shelter, or to a national organization such as Support the Girls. The Lingeriecycle initiative is for intimate apparel items unsuitable for donation for either hygiene reasons or because they are worn out and no longer usable by anyone.

Find more specifics here.

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Brooke Glassberg
Brooke is the editor of this here blog. In a previous life, she was an editor at Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. Brooke has written for Glamour, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and more. She’s into concerts, calligraphy, travel and her exceptionally adorable daughter and husband.
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