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6 Sustainable, Ethical & Affordable T-Shirt Brands (And Why Organic Cotton Is Better!)

sustainable ethical eco friendly t shirts

This wardrobe staple comes in so many different styles, colors, patterns, and materials. T-shirts are a great and versatile clothing item that are made, sold, and worn by millions of people each day. But, have you ever stopped to think what they’re made out of? The fashion industry is one of the greatest contributors to pollution. In 2015, 24.5 million tons of rubber, leather, and textiles went to waste. And clothing greatly contributes to microplastic waste.

When you wash synthetic clothing, it leaks tons of microplastics into the environment. Examples of synthetic fibers are polyester, nylon, spandex. In fact, synthetic clothing represents 1/3 of all plastic pollution! So, what is one way you can help reduce and prevent this? By purchasing ethical, sustainable, and eco-friendly clothing! If you’re not sure where to begin, we’ve got you covered. Below are 6 sustainable t-shirt brands you won’t want to take off!

What Makes It Sustainable?

Sustainable Materials

Before we jump into our list, what makes something sustainable? When talking about clothing, one of the biggest factors is the material. Above all, the use of organic cotton. It’s true, cotton is a natural material. Yet, organic cotton is more sustainable because it is not treated with harsh chemicals. It is also handpicked, and dyed with natural or water-based dyes. It is also whitened with peroxide for whitening. Beyond the material, how companies produce these products is a big deal.

Certifications

There are some certifications you want to look out for when shopping. These will show when a company’s production and practices are sustainable and ethical.

Certified B Corporations attempt to balance purpose and profit. They have to consider their footprint against the environment, people, and infrastructure.

WRAP certification means the company’s factories and workers are audited for ethical practices.

Finally, Oeko-Tex and GOTS certification mean the company source their materials from organic providers. It also means they are test for harmful chemicals and substances. Considering all of this, let’s check out which companies are making an impact!

Econscious sustainable tshirts

1. Econscious

Ethics | GOTS certified

Sustainability | Organic cotton, Recycled polyester, Hemp

Price Range | $-$$

Econscious offers men and women a range of eco-friendly basics. This includes their signature 100% certified organic cotton crew neck Tee. They also have transparent factories. Additionally, they donate 1% of their retail sales to non-profits who work to restore, protect, and advocate for the Earth. You can be sure you’re getting a high-quality product that gives back a little something, too. 

2. Know the Origin (KTO)

Ethics | Fair-trade manufacturing

Sustainability | Organic fabrics

Price Range | $-$$

KTO has a wide range of ethical tees. The tees are fashion forward and come in a variety of colors ranging from loud to neutral. These tees are fair-trade manufactured in India and are made of organic cotton. KTO also offers sustainable products for everything from the kitchen to the bathroom. For $26, you can wear your tee with confidence, knowing its origin!

3. Alternative Apparel

Ethics | Fair Labor Association, WRAP Certified, Fashion Revolution, GOTS-certified, Oeko-Tex

Sustainability | Organic cotton, Recycled material, Low-impact dyes, Low water washes

Price Range | $-$$

Alternative Apparel is one of my personal favorites. They offer the basics for men, women, and everyone starting at around $28. Their Alternative Eco® line recycles 1.8M plastic bottles annually. They support fair labor practices and are WRAP certified. Additionally, much of their fabric is either 100% certified organic cotton or recycled materials. Finally, they are a part of an initiative to make fast fashion accountable. Alternative Apparel is a great option for anyone wanting to make a statement with their purchase.

4. Bella + Canvas

Ethics | Fair labor practices, USA made

Sustainability | Water reduction, Low impact dyes, Low waste

Price Range | $-$$

Bella + Canvas is an agitator to the world of fast fashion. Between their YouTube channel and a clear list of their practices on their website, they are one of the most transparent companies in the game. Their tees (and additional clothing) are made from a soft touch cotton that they cut and color in Los Angeles, CA. They are dyed using 7x less water than the industry standard and work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure they are not emitting harmful chemicals or waste into the environment. At only $24, this can be a garment you wear proudly!

5. Pact

Ethics | Fair trade factory certified, GOTS-certified

Sustainability | Organic cotton, Natural dyes, Natural fibers

Price Range | $-$$

Pact is a company based out of Boulder, CO. They offer some of the most comfortable basics on the market, including T-shirts. All of their tees are made from 100% organic cotton and have been since they were established in 2009. Their clothing is made in a certified fair-trade factory. Finally, they offer a recycling program for old, fast fashion clothes, towels, and sheets. With a starting price of $20, this is money well spent!

Etiko Sustainable tshirts

6. Etiko

Ethics | FairTrade, GOTS-certified, Certified B Corporation, Oeko-Tex certified

Sustainability | Organic cotton, Non-animal glue, Natural rubber, Recycled packaging

Price Range | $-$$

Last but not least, we have Etiko. Etiko is an eco-friendly, ethical company working to reduce their impact from every angle. Within their factories, they adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Labour Organization’s standards for ethical treatment. They use 100% organic cotton, natural rubber, and no animal glue in their products. They offer customers a take back program so their items are properly recycled. And they are on track to reach carbon neutral status this year. For just $27, you can buy a t-shirt from this company and know you are contributing to a profoundly ethical mission.

Buy Mindfully, Buy Compassionately, Buy Sustainably

Voilà, 6 eco-friendly, sustainable, and affordable brands offering products wrapped in an ethical ribbon! Any of these brands are a great option if you want to hop off the fast fashion train. Remember, we as consumers can make a huge impact through every purchase. Buy mindfully, compassionately, and sustainably, and make a difference with your dollar!

Patricia Maroday

Hi I'm Patricia. Wife. Writer. Marketer. Cruelty-free and eco-friendly products researcher. Soccer mom to a son who thinks I am a vegan scientist. I just want to encourage people to try out the vegan lifestyle their way and making a global impact together. Join my movement!

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