Staying cool in the summer comes at a cost if you aren’t wearing the right sun hat—at least for the environment. The sad reality is that most hats are marketed as impulse buys. This means they’re made of cheap plastic materials that might last you a month with minimal use. Other sun hats might be high quality, but they’re constructed from materials harvested in inhumane or unsustainable ways.
Here’s the good news. It’s easier than ever to choose eco-friendly and organic sun hats instead. These summer accessories are made from biodegradable materials sourced in ecologically conscious ways, and they are constructed by companies that value the lives of their workers enough to ensure workplace safety and pay them a living wage.
Determining which sun hats are worth your money from an environmental perspective isn’t easy. Thankfully, we’ve done the hard work for you. Here are our picks for the eight best brands of eco-friendly and sustainable sun hats for protecting your skin this summer.
Materials: toquilla straw
Simple yet effective, the Cuyana Panama hat is a classic design that will keep your head cool on the hottest days. This hat has been the brand’s trademark design for over a decade, during which Cuyana’s commitment to producing accessories in socially and environmentally sustainable ways is only growing stronger.
Cuyana means “love” in Quechuan, and this hat emulates the brand’s philosophy of ‘fewer, better things’ for the planet. It’s made in Ecuador from sustainably-grown toquilla straw using UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity techniques. This ensures the hat is durable enough for any day out—meaning it might be the last sun hat you ever buy.
Best of all, each hat is covered by a two-year warranty; just send it back to the Cuyana when damaged, and the weavers will repair it. And, when you’re through with your clothes of any brand, you can donate them to the online thrift store ThredUP for credit towards your next Cuyana purchase.
Materials: recycled wool, hemp, organic cotton, recycled polyester, TENCEL
Tentree brand apparel takes its name literally. For every purchase, the company plants ten trees for a total of 60 million and counting. That’s reason enough to make this list, but this organic clothing brand goes even further towards making earth-first apparel.
As a Certified B-Corp company, Tentree works to exceed the highest standards set for respecting its employees, the greater community, and the environment. This means the company regularly performs audits within its factories to ensure all workers enjoy safe working conditions, earn fair wages, and have access to health insurance.
The Harlow Boater hat is made with 100% recycled wool and features a flat top and waxed cord along the base. It’s designed in Canada but constructed according to ethical standards in China. Other hats by the brand contain different sustainable fabrics, including hemp, organic cotton, recycled polyester, and TENCEL. These materials tend to be less resource-intensive to produce than traditional options, making Tentree apparel lighter on the planet than its competitors.
Materials: straw, cotton, whipstitching, ribbon
Accompany is a humanity-focused brand dedicated to changing the world for the better. This Certified B Corporation company avoids quick fixes and fast fashion in favor of permanent changes to the systems that hurt the world and people within it. This includes selling handmade and artisanal goods instead of mass-produced products, using and promoting fair trade practices, and supporting humanitarian causes.
The Made in the Shade hat boasts a beautiful wide brim and contains nothing but sustainably sourced cotton, ribbon, and straw grown in Ecuador. There, women artisans weave each hat according to traditional practices that guarantee it will hold up to heavy use. Other Accompany hats are equally eco-conscious, and many are made from humanely harvested wool felt and alpaca wool.
On a larger scale, Accompany works with various relief programs that provide help for marginalized communities through donations, training programs, low-interest loans, and other initiatives.
Materials: sustainably-grown hemp, moisture-wicking Hydrofil
Stay cool this summer with one of the world’s most sustainable materials on your head. Tilley’s TH5 Hemp hat is handmade from durable, sustainably sourced hemp fiber with a water-resistant finish that is certified UPF 50+ for better sun protection. Hemp makes for an ideal textile, as it’s easy to grow without fertilizer or herbicides, requires less water than cotton, and produces a rugged material that
This Canadian brand claims it takes 23 pairs of hands to make each sun hat, and the process follows fair trade manufacturing practices. The hat itself has a flexible band and extra-wide brim with a secret interior pocket for stashing cash or an ID. Best of all, each hat comes with a lifelong satisfaction guarantee to protect it against defects that would put it in the landfill faster.
Materials: toquilla packable straw
Janessa Leoné hats pair high fashion with convenience and eco-consciousness with its line of packable straw hats made from Panamanian and toquilla straw. They showcase timeless designs made fresh with a modern shape and can be paired with any outfit. Each hat is made in the United States according to ethical standards, and many models include cloth ties that are produced from overstock materials sourced from Los Angeles.
These hats are designed for an on-the-go lifestyle—you can roll them up and pack them in a suitcase for a day, and they will return to their original shape once removed.
Materials: sustainably harvested toquilla straw, vegan suede, cruelty-free wool
This luxury hat brand creates wearable works of art that are good for the planet as well. Ninakuru is a family-owned business based in South America. It works with a women’s fair trade cooperative to ensure all milliners experience safe working conditions and receive fair pay and educational opportunities. These premium hats are made to be heirloom quality-ensuring you can buy one and enjoy it for years to come.
All of Ninakuru’s straw hats are made from ethically and sustainably harvested toquilla straw from Ecuador. Likewise, the wool hats contain wool from hand-sheared Argentinian sheep, and both models use vegetable-tanned leather, recycled silk, hemp, organic cotton, and feathers found through foraging. Those that avoid animal products can also choose from a range of straw hats with brims crafted from vegan leather.
Materials: GOTS certified organic cotton seersucker, organic cotton voile
Price: £14.00 – £15.00
This British children’s clothes brand focuses on crafting clothes to high social and environmental standards. Frugi clothes are certified by the Soil Association and are made from GOTS certified organic cotton as well as natural rubber and recycled plastic bottles. This ensures that kids aren’t wearing apparel made with noxious pollutants or flame retardants and that factory workers work in a safe environment.
The brand’s Seeksucker Legionnaires hat is designed to keep little one’s face, neck, and head cool in the summer. The super-soft lightweight design consists of a long panel along the back to protect the neck and ears, and it includes an elasticized band to ensure it grows with your child. The seersucker fabric is made from GOTS certified organic cotton and is lined with organic cotton voile. Choose from sizes ranging from 0-6 months to 2-4 years.
Materials: Ecuadorian Toquilla straw, 100% virgin wool from Texas
Inspired by the traditional hats of the American Southwest, Tio Y Tia hats are handmade in Brooklyn by the oldest hatmaker in America. You can choose from straw sun hats handwoven from sustainably harvested toquilla straw from Ecuador or wool hats made from the wool of humanely raised Texas sheep.
These hats boast simple yet timeless designs that make them the ideal accessory for any outfit—meaning you might pull yours out even when you don’t need the sun protection.