11 Organic T-Shirts That Are Stylish and Sustainable

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Written by Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT


Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

Sustainability Expert

Leigh Matthews is a sustainability expert and long time vegan. Her work on solar policy has been published in Canada's National Observer.


Our top-rated sustainable T-shirts are made with natural materials, respect water as a valuable resource, are manufactured using fair labor practices, and last for years.

Table of Contents
  1. Problems with conventional t-shirts
  2. A basic tee: Part of every capsule wardrobe
  3. The best eco-friendly, sustainably-made t-shirts
  4. What to do with old t-shirts

Problems with conventional t-shirts

Oh, the simple Tee. A classic of modern fashion and yet horribly unsustainable for the most part.

Almost all T-shirts comprise conventional cotton or synthetic fibers and are worn a handful of times before being thrown away.

As a result, a vast amount of water, pesticides, petrochemicals, and toxic dyes go into producing something that quickly falls apart, goes out of style, or is just tossed in the garbage.

If you’re looking to make more sustainable choices, the companies below can help. And for those tees you’re thinking of trashing, think again! I offer a few alternative ideas for what to do with old t-shirts here.

If you’re looking for a brand new tee, the eco-friendly T-shirts below are a great start. While you give your casual closet a sustainability makeover, though, consider if that tee is really necessary at all.

A basic tee: Part of every capsule wardrobe

The idea of a capsule wardrobe isn’t new, but it is timeless. The basic concept is to carefully choose a small number of simple, stylish, versatile items of clothing that make getting dressed foolproof.

A capsule closet takes a lot of the daily guesswork out of choosing an outfit and helps you look great every day and for every occasion. It saves you time and money, and it’s better for the planet as it means you’re not buying fast fashion and consuming vastly more resources than you need.

A basic tee is a must for every capsule closet, as are some sturdy pairs of pants. The usual rule of thumb is to eschew outlandish colors and designs and stick to neutral tones without slogans or embellishments. That way, your tee works just as well for a night out as it does for a casual work meeting or date.

See also: Is lyocell fabric eco-friendly?

The best eco-friendly, sustainably-made t-shirts


PAKA Apparel Tee [Staff tested]

Leaf Score

Highlights: Sublimely soft, super sustainable organic cotton and alpaca fiber tee that fits perfectly. Anti-odor, thermoregulating, moisture-wicking, and fast-drying. Lightweight and great for every season.

What we like

  • Organic cotton and alpaca tee
  • Alpaca yarn comes from wild-roaming alpacas in Peru
  • Super soft and lightweight
  • GOTS approved dyes only
  • Six color options
  • Minimalist, sustainable packaging and carbon neutral shipping
  • Fully machine washable

What could be better

  • Potentially confusing sizing algorithm

At a glance:

  • Sizes available: XS-XXL
  • Key certifications: B Corp, GOTS, Oeko-Tex, EcoCart Carbon Neutral
  • Price: $55
  • Colors: six options
  • Materials: 85% Organic Pima Cotton / 15% Royal Alpaca

The PAKA organic cotton and alpaca fiber tee is my go-to black tee. It’s super soft, with no irritating labels or seams, and is lightweight and breathable but cozy enough for a cool day in fall.

I love that PAKA uses only GOTS cotton and approved dyes and sources its Royal Alpaca fibers sustainably with full traceability. The B Corp set out to shake up the alpaca clothing sector and is doing a fine job. I’m totally smitten with this tee and the PAKA Original Crew sweater, both of which instantly felt like capsule wardrobe items.

PAKA ships everything carbon neutral in biodegradable, recyclable packaging. The tee is available in men’s and women’s sizes, with a straight bottom hem and scoop hem respectively. If you’re long in the torso, I’d suggest sizing up for the women’s, especially if you have a fuller bust.


Patagonia Hemp Men’s Work Pocket Tee

Leaf Score

Highlights: A sturdy t-shirt made from a blend of industrial hemp and organic cotton intended for more rugged activity.

What we like

  • Organic cotton and industrial hemp
  • Available in a wide size range
  • Roomy, flexible, and durable
  • Naturally antimicrobial and anti-odor
  • Nine color options
  • Fully machine washable
  • Very affordable and often on sale

What could be better

  • Not GOTS certified (because of the hemp content)

At a glance:

  • Sizes available: XS-XXXL
  • Key certifications: Fair Trade, 1% for the Planet
  • Price: $45
  • Colors: nine options
  • Materials: 55% industrial hemp and 45% organic cotton

Patagonia’s Men’s Work Pocket Tee is a sturdy t-shirt intended for more rugged activity. Its blend of hemp and organic cotton makes for a durable, breathable, and comfortable tee that is also:

  • Moisture-wicking
  • Naturally antimicrobial
  • Helps control odor.

This tee also boasts a large pocket that can fit a notepad, multitool, or other necessities. (There’s a Patagonia logo on the pocket.)

A whopping 87% of Patagonia’s clothing is Fair Trade Certified™ sewn and the company has long led the way in sustainability for the outdoor clothing sector.

This particular tee is made in Sri Lanka and Peru and has a generous cut to allow for flexibility during hard physical labor. As a result, it’s a good idea to size down if you have a small build.


Pact Heavyweight Polo

Leaf Score

Highlights: Heavyweight polo style tee in organic cotton made by a B Corp in a Fair Trade factory.

What we like

  • GOTS organic cotton
  • Available in a wide size range
  • Prewashed with no shrinkage
  • Button-free neck and soft feel
  • Fully machine washable
  • B Corp with a clothing recycling scheme

What could be better

  • Not many color options

Pact’s Heavyweight Polo is a good choice for cooler weather and for more rugged use. It is available in two colors and in sizes Small to XL. Pact estimates that each shirt saves 49.9 gallons of water compared to a similar tee made with conventional cotton.

This heavier tee has a classic side slit with a one-inch drop in the back (great for going untucked) and it hits at the hip with a relaxed fit. The shirt also has a deconstructed notch neck that is button-free. It is garment dyed for a soft feel and is prewashed and shrink resistant.

Why we like PACT

Pact offers a range of eco-friendly t-shirts for men (or folks of any gender, really), as well as for children. Pact only uses GOTS certified organic cotton and avoids toxic dyes and problematic chemicals. This B Corporation supports social and environmental stewardship and makes everything in Fair Trade certified factories.

Pact packages its products in 100% recyclable and almost entirely recycled paper and cardboard as well as biodegradable plastic that doesn’t result in microplastics or other residues.

Pact is a carbon neutral company and has a cool Give Back – Wear Forward organic clothing donation program. Just fill your Pact box with gently used clothing, shoes, and accessories (of any brand), get a pre-paid shipping label from its website, and then send these items to Pact for reuse (and a tax receipt!).

We also love PACT for bedding, maternity wear, and more!


Tentree Hemp V-Neck T-Shirt

Leaf Score

Highlights: Hemp and recycled polyester tee made by a certified carbon neutral B Corp that plants 10 trees with every order.

Tentree’s Hemp V-Neck T-Shirt comprises 55% hemp and 45% recycled polyester. It has a scooped hi-low hem and a regular fit with a v-neck style. The blend of materials makes for a cozier tee than a simple cotton tee, so is good if you tend to run cold.

This hemp t-shirt saves an estimated 168.89 liters of water, 0.34 kg of CO2, and 0.02 g of waste. Hemp is grown without any herbicides or pesticides and is an excellent crop that helps replenish stripped soil. To keep it in good shape, wash this on cold and hang it to dry.

Tentree is Climate Neutral-Certified, designs its products in Canada, and makes them overseas in Fair Trade certified factories. The company is currently in the top 10% of certified B Corps, uses recycled and sustainable materials for its products, and plants 10 trees for every order.

So far, Tentree has planted more than 73 million trees. When you buy something from Tentree, you can register an account and see a virtual island with your trees planted. You can also get information on the real-life location of your trees and the company’s tree-planting projects.

Tentree ships everything carbon-neutral (certified) in minimal packaging. Shipping is free over $85 CAD, as are exchanges.


Pact Textured Long-Sleeve Tee

Leaf Score

Highlights: Textured, long-sleeve T-shirt with pocket made from GOTS certified organic cotton in Fair Trade factories by a B Corp.

Pact offers a range of eco-friendly t-shirts for men (or folks of any gender, really), as well as for children. Pact only uses GOTS certified organic cotton and avoids toxic dyes and problematic chemicals. It makes its products in India where the GOTS cotton is grown, making for a more efficient supply chain and fewer carbon emissions.

The Textured Long-Sleeve Tee is a great choice for cooler weather, has a classic fit that hits at the hip, a crew neck, and a single chest pocket. This tee has lightly textured slub fabric that is prewashed, so no shrinkage surprises when you wash it.

Pact estimates that this tee requires 81% less water than a similar one made with conventional cotton, amounting to 29.1 gallons of water saved. It is available in sizes Small to XL and in five colors.

Shipping is free in the US for orders over $50.


Coyuchi Men’s Organic Knit Short Sleeve Tee

Leaf Score

Highlights: Simple tee in GOTS certified organic cotton made by a sustainable company.

Coyuchi specializes in simple, stylish, eco-friendly apparel and household textiles made with organic cotton. It shouldn’t surprise regular readers to see Coyuchi top my recommendations for eco-friendly T-shirts then.

This simple men’s tee is available in White or Charcoal Heather and in sizes Medium, Large, and XL. It is also a great sleep shirt thanks to the soft organic cotton knit and classic crewneck. Each tee saves an average of 285 days of drinking water, 1 mile of driving emissions, and 31 square feet of land farmed without pesticides.

Coyuchi uses organic cotton that is grown and knit in India and is GOTS certified. The tee is machine washable (on gentle and cold, ideally) and you can dry it on low or on the line.

Coyuchi ships its goods in eco-friendly materials and as sustainably as possible. The company offers free returns within 30 days and store credit for up to 365 days. Coyuchi’s supply chain partners fully comply with the strictest environmental and social regulations. These include REACH and the Restricted Substances List (RSL) of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).

Coyuchi has Fair Trade certification and is a member of 1% for the Planet. It also makes products with the MADE SAFE® seal and is involved in the Fibershed program which aims to support regenerative agriculture that helps sequester carbon and build robust regional economies.


Rawganique Manley Beach Hemp T-Shirt

Leaf Score

Highlights: Guaranteed sweatshop-free, and naturally breathable, roomy and relaxed hemp tee made in Europe using organically grown European hemp.

Rawganique’s Manley Beach t-shirt comprises 100% hemp in a thick, durable jersey (light sweater weight) weave. The fabric is stretchy and breathable, moisture-wicking, naturally antimicrobial, and great for odor control.

This design features a pocket and has a classic, roomy fit, with sizes Small to XXL. It is available in natural (undyed, unbleached, and untreated) and black and is cut similar to the Bel Air hemp t-shirt. Rawganique makes the t-shirts in-house at its European Atelier using organic hemp grown in Europe. Guaranteed sweatshop-free t-shirt.


Toad&Co Primo Short-Sleeved Henley T-Shirt

Leaf Score

Highlights: Organic cotton tee in a classic woven button placket with a forward shoulder seam for backpack carrying ease.

Toad & Co.’s Men’s Primo Short Sleeve Henley is available in six colors and in sizes Small to XXL. This shirt is made entirely from organic cotton, meaning it requires far less water and energy than conventional cotton and is free of GMOs and toxic chemicals. The cotton primo jersey is made from Indian organic cotton and can be washed cold and dried on low.

The Henley shirt is great for warmer weather as it comprises super soft organic cotton in a ‘well-traveled wash’. It is also lightweight, moisture-wicking, and has a forward shoulder seam to make carrying a backpack more comfortable. The shirt has a woven button placket and a short sleeve design.


Rawganique Bel Air 100 Hemp T-Shirt

Leaf Score

Highlights: 100% hemp tee sewn in Europe from organically grown hemp, available undyed and in colors produced using natural dyes like oak leaves!

The Rawganique Bel Air 100% Organic Hemp T-Shirt is available in sizes Small to XXL and in Natural, Iced Tea, natural dye Oak, natural dye Oregano, and Russet. Rawganique grows the hemp itself in Europe, not China, using organic practices to create a nm18/2 yarn. The company then creates the soft, breathable Jersey knit and sews the hemp fabric itself at the Rawganique Atelier in Europe.

This 100% organic hemp, short-sleeve T-shirt has a modern slim cut style with shorter sleeves. It is elastic-free and Lycra-free – just organic hemp through and through. Rawganique offers the natural, unbleached and undyed version of this tee and a variety of colors, including those produced using natural dyes such as from fresh oak bark and oregano leaves, for instance.

Toxic chemical-free, sweatshop-free, UV-resistant, and breathable, this moisture-wicking hemp tee is comfy and cool on warmer days and cozy on cooler days. You can hand-wash or machine-wash this T-shirt using cold water and then lay it flat to dry or tumble dry on low.


Toad&Co Hemp Daily Baseball Shirt

Leaf Score

Highlights: Hemp and organic cotton tee in two cute designs for all genders and in a wide range of sizes.

I’m fairly smitten with Toad&Co’s Unisex Hemp Daily Baseball Tee. It’s just adorable, and the fact it’s made with 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton makes it even more appealing. Release your inner T-baller and enjoy the natural properties of hemp and cotton, namely moisture-wicking, odor control, and soft, cozy comfort and durability.

This unisex shirt fits normal for males, but you’ll want to size down if you’re female. It is available in sizes XXS to XXL and comes in two designs, with red or blue color accents.

Because hemp is naturally antimicrobial, you’ll likely be able to get away with washing this tee a little less often than usual, making it even better for water conservation throughout its life.

Toad&Co doesn’t have much going on in the way of sustainability initiatives, but it does list local retailers for every item on its site. If you’re trying to shop local and cut carbon emissions, this feature makes it a lot easier!


Rawganique Cassie Organic Cotton Women’s T-Shirt

Leaf Score

Highlights: Very affordable, super simple organic cotton t-shirt.

Rawganique’s Cassie t-shirt comprises 100% organic cotton, is made un the USA, and is very affordable at just $20. It is available in sizes Small to XXL and in Natural (unbleached, dye-free) and eco-dyed Cornflower blue. Rawganique sources its organic cotton from the US, which makes this a super sustainable choice.

The t-shirt has a scoop-neck design and comprises soft and cozy, 100% organic cotton 5.75 oz jersey. Expect about a half-inch of shrinkage on the first wash and wash lukewarm with like colors on a gentle cycle.

What to do with old t-shirts

If you’ve just had a brutal closet clear-out, you may be wondering what to do with t-shirts you no longer need.

If you live in the U.S., consider treating yourself to a fresh tee from Pact. That way, you can use the company’s Give Back Box program to send any gently used items for recirculation.

For faded, ripped, bedraggled old t-shirts that don’t make the cut for donation, there are other ways to give these items a new lease on life.

Where appropriate, consider sewing on missing buttons, replacing a zip, or using natural dyes for a fresh look.

How to upcycle old t-shirts

If you’re handy or crafty, set aside old t-shirts for a rainy day project.

Upcycling is a great use of tees beyond saving!

For other items truly beyond redemption, consider upcycling. This might mean shredding or cutting these to make:

  • A rag rug
  • Cushion covers
  • A handy tote bag
  • Shoe storage bags
  • Produce bags
  • Cat or dog beds
  • Plant pot cozies (make a cut series of matching plant pots!)
  • Beer cozies
  • Reusable cloth wipes
  • Dish rags
  • Stuffing for cushions, pet beds, or craft projects.

If all else fails, check your local recycling depot or facilities to see if you can recycle textiles. Or, do the planet a favor and get yourself a TerraCycle box to fill with fabrics for recycling.

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