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We’ve never covered something as basic as eco-friendly t-shirts before because it’s one of the only sustainable fashion categories that’s actually been oversaturated since the beginning. Thank you, but no, we do not need another organic basic tee brand.
You might even have enough eco-friendly tees in your closet already. Or, you might have success finding some great vintage tees already in circulation on a secondhand apparel website (so you can save a few from a landfill). For all of these reasons, we hesitated when asked to create a guide to eco-friendly and organic t-shirts.
But, we’re here to give you, our reader, what you want. Perhaps it’s because t-shirts are a low-hanging fruit for sustainable fashion newbies. Or maybe it’s because more people are dressing down more often now as they work from home. Either way, we’re here to help.
So, below are the most trusted brands for eco-friendly and ethically made t-shirts for women, men, non-binary folks, and kids. These are established, sustainable apparel brands that have proven themselves with transparency over the past several years. Each one offers something a little different — whether it’s regenerative cotton, fun graphics, or custom measured shirts — so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
What to Look for in Eco & Ethical Tees:
Natural and/or recycled fibers: Organic and/or recycled fibers like cotton, TENCEL, and recycled polyester are better for the environment than virgin synthetics and even conventional cotton (which is what most traditional tees are made out of).
Timelessness and style: Choose tees that you will genuinely love for a long time, and that will fit well into your overall wardrobe. Go for shirts that you’ll be able to dress up or down as you go from work to the gym.
Environmentally-conscious manufacturing: The processes involved in creating textiles are often pretty harsh on the environment, using lots of water, chemicals, and energy, and leaving behind waste. Look for brands that are using more earth-friendly processes that reduce their impact.
Non-toxic dyes and finishes: Traditional clothing is dyed with chemicals that are not good for the earth, the people making them, or you. Look for natural and/or non-toxic alternatives and certifications.
Fair labor and transparency: Look for brands that prioritize transparency (do they tell you where their apparel is made, with pictures?) and certifications like Fair Trade and SA8000.
Here are our favorite brands making eco-friendly, ethically made, organic, and recycled tees:
PACT carries a variety of short and long-sleeve basic tees and tanks for men, women, and kids. They’re all made from certified organic cotton, are Fair Trade, and are also affordable. They use low impact dyes and processes that decrease water use, too.
SANTICLER offers timeless organic cotton t-shirts that will fit great into any capsule wardrobe. They are produced in a small factory in Romania, where the SANTICLER team works closely with the factory owners to ensure ethical and high-quality production every step of the way. They also strive for a zero-waste process, running small orders based on specific demand to eliminate excess waste and using recycled and biodegradable packaging.
Harvest & Mill truly goes beyond sustainability—their fabric is actually regenerative. That means the way the cotton is grown not only has a lesser impact on the environment, but it actually helps the planet by sequestering carbon. Everything is truly made in the USA — even the cotton is 100% grown here — non-toxic, and totally compostable. Their newest collection of sweats is dye-free and made from organic heirloom undyed cotton that naturally grows brown. All of their tees are unisex!
AMEND believes in being “ultra” transparent, so their customers can make a truly informed choice. Every piece made by AMENDI is traceable and comes with a Fabrication Facts tag that outlines details of that specific garment, such as what each part is made of, amount of water used in production, certifications, a cost breakdown, and even how many people worked on it. All of AMENDI’s raw materials are grown, harvested, woven into fabric, and sewn into clothing in the same country—Turkey. They work closely with their suppliers throughout their supply chain in order to keep an eye on both conduct and quality. By keeping their supply chain in one place, they’re able to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase quality. Plus, they never use harsh chemicals during production and take full advantage of the latest eco-friendly technologies. Learn more about their transparency initiatives.
Frank & Oak’s short and long-sleeve tees for men and women are made from organic and conventional cotton, hemp, TENCEL, and some recycled polyester. Everything is made transparently, and you can read more about each specific factory they work with on their website. Plus, they’ve taken steps to reduce the amount of plastic used throughout their supply chain and to implement more recycled and compostable materials into their packaging.
Alternative Apparel carries a wide variety of tees for men, women, and kids that come in bright and basic colors along with a variety of prints and patterns. Their tees and tanks are made in WRAP certified facilities out of eco-friendly materials like organic and recycled cotton, recycled polyester, and low-impact dyes. They use water-conserving processes, oxo-biodegradable mailer bags, and have implemented a vendor recycling program.
Outerknown has a wide variety of tees and tanks for men and women. The brand was started by 11-time World Surf League Champion, Kelly Slater and acclaimed designer, John Moore. As a brand, they are committed to transparency, working with manufacturers who abide by the Fair Labor Association’s standards and keeping a list of those suppliers right on their website. They use eco-conscious materials like ECONYL (recycled nylon), organic cotton, and hemp and they also give back a portion to the Ocean Conservancy.
Thought’s t-shirts for men and women are made from breathable bamboo rayon, hemp, TENCEL, and organic cotton. They are careful to source their fabrics consciously, use only slow shipping for the lowest carbon footprint, and adhere to a strict ethical code of conduct for employment.
For their tees and tanks, Organic Basics uses eco-friendly materials like GOTS certified organic cotton and TENCEL, as well as recycled wool and nylon. Everything is made transparently in certified factory partners around the world, where workers have safe working conditions and are paid a living wage and benefits. They also have an impact index, which measures the amount of waste, chemicals, energy, emissions, and water are utilized in their production process.
Amour Vert is one of our favorite sustainable brands, with fashion-forward eco apparel without the designer prices. Their tees come in solid colors as well as fun patterns, in a variety of different fits. They use mostly organic cotton, and everything is made in the USA. In fact, you can find out more about the factory where your tee was made right on the product page.
A leader in sustainability for the past four decades, Patagonia carries a wide variety of t-shirts for men and women. Their apparel is made with fully or partially recycled and natural materials and sewn together in fair trade factories. You can shop from tech tees (for performance), basic organic tees, and graphic tees.
Madewell has been making slow and steady progress toward increasing their ethical and sustainable practices over the past several years, and now you can shop from their curated “Do Well Shop,” which is a collection of clothing and accessories that are made more responsibly, both ethically and sustainably.
Made from a combination of GOTS organic cotton and recycled polyester, United By Blue has a selection of outdoor-inspired tees for women and men. Everything is made responsibly in Turkey and each purchase removes a pound of trash from our waterways.
Ethically made in Australia, Citizen Wolf uses only natural fibers to create its custom-made-to-order tanks and t-shirts. Based on the customer’s specific measurements like height, weight, age, and bra size, Citizen Wolf provides the perfect t-shirt fit—all while offering free alterations and repairs. The brand also follows a zero-waste manufacturing process which captures, sorts, and upcycles offcut fabric scraps to create accessories such as totes and scarves.
All artwork is on Dazey LA’s tees is hand-drawn by founder and designer, Dani Dazey and each tee is hand made to order out of 100% cotton in Los Angeles. Every purchase goes towards fueling art, ethical fashion, and a woman-owned small business. Sizes go up to 4x.
Bon Label’s tees are made from 100% organic cotton and are ethically made in India. Every person Bon Label’s supply chain touches — from the cotton farmers to the garment sewers — are paid a fair and living wage for their work.