Now more than ever, the environment is at the forefront of global issues, which has lead to a question we've been getting more and more of here at Real Thread: "Where can I get a good, eco-friendly t-shirt?" Don't worry, we've got you covered.
In an effort to help you find the perfect t-shirts for your brand, as well as the environment, here's a list of our six favorite companies for eco-friendly and sustainably produced t-shirts.
1. Alternative Apparel
Alternative Apparel does an awesome job of creating eco-friendly, fashion forward apparel. Committed to sustainability, Alternative produces 80% of their products with sustainable materials and processes. On top of that, their processes include using 60% less water on average, non-toxic dyes, and a line of organic fabrics.
One of our favorite pieces from Alternative Apparel is the 1070 unisex go-to t-shirt. This light-weight 100% cotton t-shirt from Alternative Apparel is the perfect t-shirt for everyday use.
Alternative Apparel also offers a completely organic version of this t-shirt in the 6005. This shirt has a fashion-forward cut made from all organic and recycled materials, which will leave you feeling good for a couple of reasons: it’s super soft, and you’re saving the world. Win, win.
2. American Apparel
American Apparel has long been a front runner in providing eco-conscious, sustainable apparel. However, after a turbulent couple of years that included an ousted CEO, bankruptcy, new ownership, and some of production shifting to overseas, it left some people unsure if American Apparel would still have the same quality and conscious of old.
The good news though, is that American Apparel does continue to offer a line of environmentally friendly t-shirts and apparel made entirely of organic cotton.
The Unisex Organic Fine Jersey T-shirt has American Apparel’s iconic fit and feel, but is made solely from organic cotton. The Fine Jersey material is a mid-weight, tight-knit organic cotton that maintains a structured fit and a super soft feel.
This crewneck is a cult classic that has won fans over for years – anyone who tries this tee on is bound to love it from first wear.
Available in a variety of colorways, you’re bound to find a version of this shirt that will work for you.
3. Royal Apparel
Royal Apparel have carved out a very strong niche in the corner of eco-friendly apparel. They offer the most extensive line of organic apparel on this list, while also producing all of their garments here in the US.
When we say they have an extensive line of organic apparel, we mean it. Their standard unisex tee comes in four different organic offerings: 100% organic cotton, an eco friendly tri-blend, a bamboo-cotton blend, and our favorite, the hemp-cotton blend. Each shirt has a similar fit, but different benefits.
The organic cotton and tri-blend shirts will feel the most familiar. Both being super soft, with the tri-blend having a bit more of a vintage look to it.
The bamboo fabric has a soft, light feel as well. The difference here is that the bamboo is a bit more insulated, keeping you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
The hemp-cotton blend has a really unique feel that will soften as the shirt ages – which it definitely will do, because hemp is an exceptionally strong fabric that is bound to last a long time. For more on the history of hemp t-shirts, head here!
Bella+Canvas makes this list not so much for their fabric materials, but for their above-and-beyond approach to manufacturing sustainable and eco-friendly t-shirts. They’ve invested a ton of time and resources into making every facet of their production sites eco-conscious and sustainable.
With fabric houses that use 7x less water than most manufacturers, facilities that run on solar power, and a strong effort to recycle every unused material, you can definitely feel good about ordering about Bella+Canvas.
Looking for a standard, crewneck tee? Try the Canvas 3001, or Bella 6400 for a women’s cut. Or looking for something more unique? Browse through their Fast-Fashion line, a group of more on-trend styles that are still ethically and sustainably produced.
"Good for the planet and its people" is Allmade's motto, and this mission is woven into every piece of apparel they produce. When they started in 2017, they were simply looking to make a great fitting, great feeling t-shirt to print on, without much other consideration in mind.
But, a trip to Haiti to visit a garment manufacturer brought some serious self-reflection and vision for Allmade's founders, and made them decide to pursue making apparel that is kind for the environment, and for the people producing the apparel (while not compromising on the original goal of producing a high-quality t-shirt).
By starting with recycled raw materials, and producing their t-shirts in ethical factories where employees are paid fair labor, Allmade produces a t-shirt you can feel good about wearing from an environmental standpoint, an ethical standpoint, and of course, a comfort standpoint.
One of our favorite Allmade t-shirts is the A2004T Unisex Triblend. This t-shirt is made of 50% recycled polyester, 25% organic ringspun cotton, and 25% TENCEL™ Modal which is made from renewable beech trees. It's soft, fitted, and comes in 8 beautiful colorways.
6. Known Supply
Known Supply is on a mission, and that mission is to educate buyers about where their clothes come from and why it matters. That's why, on a tag in the inside of each garment they produce, you'll find the signature of the actual person who made your garment.
“If we can get people to understand that there’s a real person behind the product, we can change the way they think about purchasing,” says Known Supply's co-founder Travis Hartanov in an interview with Real Thread last year.
By helping buyers understand that people are behind the apparel process, Known Supply hopes to make all t-shirt and apparel manufacturers more socially and environmentally responsible.
The Known Supply U100 Unisex T-Shirt and W100 Women's T-Shirt are two of our favorite t-shirts out there. Fair trade certified and made of 100% organic cotton, you'll have a hard time putting on another t-shirt after wearing either of these.
Sustainable t-shirt closing thoughts
It can feel like there aren’t a lot of options for people who want eco-friendly, sustainably-made t-shirts, but it’s really not true! We hope this guide helps you on your journey to find a t-shirt that fits your needs—as well as the environment's.
If you’d like to learn more about any of these products or use one for your next t-shirt design, please contact us! One of our t-shirt experts would love to help walk you through the process.