You are reading

I Wore A Single Underwear For Two Weeks. Because The Environment, That’s Why

I Wore A Single Underwear For Two Weeks. Because The Environment, That’s Why

  • Culture
  • Events
Images by Marisse Caine, unless otherwise stated.

The year was REDACTED, and I was taking a dump. A few metres away, in pitch darkness, my fellow National Servicemen politely averted their nostrils.

We had spent the last three days trekking through the warm, wet primary forests of REDACTED. As any NSman will tell you, defecating outfield is an adventure best avoided, but I am the proud owner of a singularly efficient digestive system. 

Finding myself a clear patch of mud, I dropped, hunched over, and tried to ignore the assorted reeds tickling my ticklies.

Contrary to popular belief, the worst part of such a gastrointest-anal adventure is not the tickling, the smell, nor the act itself. Rather, the worst part is the recovery. 

My underwear was positively drenched in sweat, ice-cold, and muddy to boot. My nether-skin, now breathing sweet air, recoiled at the touch of the damp, dank, stanky mess, even as I pulled those grimy long johns over my johnson. 

In that moment, I made a solemn oath: Once I made it out, never again would I take lightly the blessings of plentiful briefs. I would never wear the same pair twice (sans washing).

But this story isn’t about my NS days. It’s about underwear.

In 2015, four Danish guys came together to create a sustainable clothing line. I retched like a cat with a hairball at their hideously hipster-style name—’Organic Basics’. 

However, their ‘about’ page more than makes up for it, opening with a line lifted from my teenage diary: 

“The fashion industry is a dirty bastard.”

In recent times, Singaporean media’s environmental coverage has focused on single-use plastics. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I’m here to plug in the gaps. What they rarely cover is one of the world’s most wasteful, and unnecessary, products: clothes.

After oil, the fashion industry is the second largest global polluter, and contributes 10% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Unlike transport, electricity, and food, though, we don’t really need Kim’s Kimonos to live. Clothing is essential; fashion is excessive, and Organic Basics agrees. Their clothes propose to be plain, simple, and high-quality.

To this end, they created SilverTech: a trademarked cloth made by coating fabric thread with real silver. Supposedly, silver has antibacterial properties, which allows the material to be worn multiple times without washing. This kills two polluting birds with one stone: it reduces energy consumption from washing, and makes the material last longer, reducing how much underwear you need to buy.

TL;DR: Organic Basics wants us to wear disgusting underwear, over and over and over, just to save the environment.

This might be imaginable in chilly Denmark, where summer temperatures average 17.2 C. In winter, they can probably go weeks without breaking a sweat. But in Singapore, whose burning air I need not describe, perspiration is inevitable. Our daily commute is enough to leave us moist in the genitals, for all the wrong reasons. One underwear a day is hardly enough. Wearing the same underwear for weeks? Yikes.

The cherry on top: SilverTech is a real kick in the wallet. Their cheapest package—containing two pairs of briefs—comes to a cool 100 SGD. For that price, the undies should be fitted with Harry Potter features, like the ability to get me off on command (expecto patronum).

But if there’s one thing that absolutely needs to catch on, it’s sustainable clothing. Therefore, for the environment, I decided to renege on my vows and take the plunge. The conditions were simple: for two weeks, my ‘nads would nestle within a single pair of Organic Basics Silvertech briefs. Gingerly, I placed my order online.

(Disclaimer: I did not wear them to sleep. Because who wears underwear to sleep?)

Image via Organic Basics.
Arriving Saturday afternoon in a neatly wrapped paper bag, the briefs are pristine: pure white, like a flock of doves, or a virginal wedding bedsheet. Unlike the former (but sometimes like the latter), they’re not going to stay that way. 

Sunday dawns, and my trial begins; I slip into my new best friend, Brett the Briefs.

The material is soft and comfortable, more so than my usual twelve-dollar-NTUC-underpants, even if the sizing is a bit large. What this says about the Danish physique vis-a-vis my own, I’ll leave to you. 

After an uneventful day, I’m feeling good about Brett, who, to my surprise, smells only a little, and has stained not a whit. I secure a plastic hanger to my window grille; Brett will dangle from it during her nightly drying. 

On Monday morning, I let Brett sun for a few minutes, and she thanks me with a warm hug on the balls, feeling good as new. Encouraged, I wear her to work. Nobody seems to notice the day-old underwear; then again, how could they? 

By midweek, I start getting antsy. While the briefs are performing suitably under sedentary conditions, my body is not. Brett and I are going steady, but I’ve not been ready to take our relationship to the next level—with physical exercise, and the associated human gunk. But the foreplay has to end; it’s time to get sweaty.

I hit the gym, hoping that an air-conditioned environment will reduce perspiration in my groinal region. It does not. By the time I get home, Brett is damp, and has begun to take on some, well, unique colours and smells. It’s not looking good. 

The next day, the tactile source of displeasure has evaporated, but the visual and olfactory blemishes remain. My resolve wavers; I contemplate abandoning the experiment altogether. But all it takes is a quick scroll through several articles on the persistent growth of—shudder—fast fashion, and I’m convinced to power through.

It’s not all that bad. Sure, for some time after wearing her, the contours and colours of Brett’s stain pattern hover before my eyes, superimposed over every sight like a waking nightmare of Gorbachev’s birthmark—but she felt no different from a fresh pair. After a while, I start to forget about her altogether.

That weekend, I decide to put a ring on it. Full commitment: a five-kilometre run. By the end, I am dripping in sweat, but mercifully too exhausted to contemplate the swamp of nastiness that is doubtless fermenting down under.

In the shower, I wring Brett dry, releasing a cascade of salt- and ammonia-scented water. After hanging her up to dry, I apply innumerable puffs of fabric spray, but the smell lingers into my sleep. That night, I dream of pungent odours, romantic disasters, and wardrobe Perestroika. 

The rising sun brings wakefulness, but Brett is still wet. I tweak the rules of the game slightly, staying in my PJs until noon to give her time to dry. Could it be cheating? Probably. Am I about to give myself a genital disease for the sake of an article? Absolutely not.

The next week passes by in a blur; work, exercise, and relaxation in all. Brett begins to skip smoothly in and out of my routine. For most of the day, I pay her no mind. In the mornings, I do a cursory visual and nasal test, before she slides onto me with the experience of an old lover. In the evenings, I take Brett off, hang her up, and mime-kiss her goodnight. This is the new normal.

I’ll be frank. By the end of the experiment, Brett is a horror to behold.

A willing model holds up Brett's carcass. Image: Marisse Caine
 Looks, however, are not everything.

Organic Basics did deliver on its promise; these are some gosh-darn high-quality briefs. After two weeks of daily use, the underwear never ceased to be soft and comfortable. In fact, they only became snugger after several days of ‘wearing in’, as it were. 

As for the antibacterial properties—I’ve been through NS, and believe you me, I know the look and feel of a genital fungal infection. Brett didn’t give me one. 

While I can’t testify to functionality in exceptional circumstances—permanent wetness, physical labour, military exercises—within the limits of my test, the SilverTech did its job, and kept my sensitive skin happy.

Perhaps most importantly, the briefs are also available in black.

Instead of that branded white T-shirt that will last you two days, until an unfortunate club-night vomiting incident, black underwear won’t stain—and if it does, no one can tell anyway, least of all your mildly-inebriated hookup. 

In summary, if you’ve got a hundred quid to spare, you could do a lot worse than a pair of semi-eternal underwear. If nothing else comes of this article, think of the environment. Stop buying fashion, and get some real clothes instead.

But I sense, dear reader, that you have one final question for me. Let me consult my crystal ball(s) … Ah, there it is:

“Wait, Mr REDACTED, what happened to Brett? Are you wearing her right now, sans washing and all?”

Well, here’s the good thing about underwear: whatever my answer, no one will ever know.

Would you wear dirty underwear for the environment? Which Rice staff member wrote this monstrosity? Write in to