Make a difference to the world…starting with your bra!
Bras. You may love ‘em or hate ‘em but how often do you recycle bras?
A lot of the time we hold on to bras because we don’t know what to do with them. Be honest with yourself and declutter your bras – take each one out of your underwear drawer and ask yourself these two questions:
1. DOES IT FIT YOU PROPERLY?
80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size and this can lead to breast pain and bra irritation.
A survey by British underwear suppliers, Rigby & Peller, in 2016 uncovered that:
- 33% of women buy the wrong bra size and discard immediately after buying
- 20% admit that lingerie they bought on impulse has not been worn
- 70% would rather wear an old grey bra which feels like a second skin than an expensive new purchase which turns out to be uncomfortable
How to solve the great question of what bra size to buy? Have a bra fitting.
I put off having a professional bra fitting for years (primarily due to embarrassment, I mean who actually wants to get half-naked in front of a stranger in a changing room?!) However, having a yearly bra fitting is such a well-spent 30 minutes of your life.
The best fittings I’ve had have been at M&S (free and the staff are really nice). Ask around – where have your friends gone? Which shops offer bra fittings near you? If you are nervous, choose a time when the changing rooms are less busy (e.g. during the week) but it is really worth doing.
TIPS FOR CHECKING YOUR BRA FITS
If you don’t want to have a professional bra fitting – here are some tips for deciding if your bra fits correctly:
- NO SPILLAGE – Your breasts should not be spilling over the top, sides, or bottom of the cups and you should not have “back bulge”!
- STRAPS STAY UP – The straps of your bra should not keep falling down even after you have adjusted them.
- MIDDLE HOOK – You should feel most comfortable when your bra is on the middle hook (bras age they stretch so if it is on the last hook and feels loose, it’s time to let it go).
- NO WRINKLY OR BAGGY cups.
- BAND SITS STRAIGHT – The band of your bra should sit firmly and horizontally across your back.
- NO INDENTS – The straps should not leave indents on your shoulders.
- SITS ON CHEST – The middle piece of your bra between your cups (“the gore”) should sit flat on your rib cage and not lifted off your chest.
- NOT UNCOMFORTABLE – For example, the underwire in your bra should not feel uncomfortable.
3. IF YOUR BRA FITS, DO YOU ENJOY WEARING IT?
Bras have a variety of purpose for us. For example, we buy T-shirt bras for invisible support, strapless for our “going out-out” dresses, bras to make us feel sexy, maternity bras etc. However, the overriding feeling they should bring out in us, regardless of purpose, should be positive. Does you bra make you feel happy? That is not to say you can’t enjoy the feeling of taking it off! However, is it comfortable and does it make you feel good about yourself? If not, time to get yourself kitted out properly! Life is too short to be wearing something every day of your life which makes you feel anything less than good.
If you have answered “NO” to either of the above 2 questions – LET THAT BRA GO!
HOW TO RECYCLE BRAS
Now of course, you could bung your old bras in a black rubbish sack but why not do something more worthwhile with them? Here are 5 charities (in no particular order) who would gratefully receive any bra donations you can give them:
1. UK based charity Against Breast Cancer has a bra recycling scheme which takes your unwanted or unloved bras and through their network of bra banks raises vital funds for pioneering breast cancer research. The bras donated also help support small businesses in Africa through their textile recovery project (giving these bras a new lease of life) in areas where they are too expensive to produce locally. For every tonne of bras collected, Against Breast Cancer receives £700 to fund their research. With over 30 million women in the UK you could really help make a difference! Find one of their bra banks in your area by going to the charity’s website or post your unwanted bras in a bag to:
Recycling Scheme, Against Breast Cancer
13 Napier Court
Abingdon, OXON, OX14 3YT
2. Recycle bras via the lingerie brand, Bravvisimo. Its shops have bins for unwanted, old or damaged bras in its stores. For every kilogram they receive, they make a donation to Mind for their amazing work – so the bigger the bra, the better! All the bras donated are recycled for good use. Those which are in a useable condition go directly to women in developing countries across the world. Those bras which can’t be used are broken down into parts which are also recycled. So next time you’re thinking about having a bra clear-out, please remember their scheme!
3. Smalls For All is another fantastic UK charity which accepts new or “gently worn” bras from the UK only, which can be any size, including sports and nursing bras, but not teen, cropped-top style or bikini tops. (By ‘gently worn’ they mean bras that are in good condition and still have good wear left in them.) They also ask for donations of new (i.e. in an unopened packet) of ladies’ or children’s pants. They provide underwear to women and girls in need in the UK and Africa. You can send your bras to them at:
Smalls for All®
Five Sisters Business Park
4. Recycle bras with M&S Shwopping. M&S encourages you to donate any old or unwanted bras (along with clothes and shoes) to many of their stores all over the UK. M&S says they ensure that by working with Oxfam absolutely none of those items end up in landfill and guarantees that the clothes will go where there’s a demand, or are recycled. The recycled bras will either be sold in Oxfam stores or they’ll be processed at Oxfam’s Wastesaver recycling facility in Batley, before being sent to the charity’s social enterprise project in Senegal, Frip Ethique. At Frip Ethique bras are sold on to over 500 local traders who sell them in their local communities to meet the needs of the local population. Declutter and drop your unwanted items into a ‘Shwop Drop’ box (you’ll find these by the tills in most M&S stores)!
5. ZABRA – a free bra initiative to collect pre-owned and new bras in the UK for women in South Africa and other countries who can’t afford their own. They work closely with organisations who identify situations where women can benefit from receiving bras free of charge. Bras can be posted to ZABRA at:
ZABRA – AfreeBra initiative
Att: Jeanette Kruger
51 South Street
TW7 7AA, UK
If your bras are too worn or broken to donate to any of the above, you can donate them to a textile recycling bank – find one near you at Recycle Now’s website.
So next time you open your underwear drawer – have a bra clear-out and remember the above schemes! Your old bras can make a real difference to someone else’s life.
Where have you got rid of your old bras?