Ethical T Shirts
HOME · Sustainable Living · Sustainable Fashion

8 Best Sustainable T-shirts & Ethical Tee Brands to Shop

T-shirts could easily be the most popular wardrobe staple in the world today. They are easy to wear, cheap compared to most clothing items, and work great for different occasions. Perhaps what we love most about the t-shirt is that it is a fashion staple that cuts across gender, income brackets, and countries.

Around the world, sustainable fashion is gaining acceptance. In a world full of short-lasting fast fashion choices, when you choose ethically made sustainable t-shirts, you support apparel consumption that benefits not just you but other people and the planet as well.

8 Best Sustainable T-shirt Brands

Affiliate Disclosure: TRVST is a participant in various affiliate programs, including Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and its international variants. As such, we may earn an advertising fee from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Here's a list of sustainable fashion brands that make some of the best ethical tees. We have added key information to help you make the best choices.


Photo Credit: Pact.

From organic tees to socks, underwear, and bedding, pact offers you a range of organic basics. Pact is on a mission to create a clothing company that the planet will love. Their fiber of choice is organic cotton, and they work with fair trade-certified factories only.

Pact also partners with an eco-tech company that allows customers to purchase carbon offsets to make up for the carbon emissions resulting from shipping.

Pact sustainable cotton tees come in distinct designs and are fit for men, women, and children. The designs are so versatile that you could use a wardrobe full of pact tees for different seasons in the year.

Pact uses paper and plastic packaging made from recycled materials, which are recyclable and biodegradable. The brand also has a program that allows you to give back gently used clothing to charities. 

Available here

Groceries Apparel

Groceries Apparel
Photo Credit: Groceries Apparel.

Groceries apparel uses organic and recycled materials to make ethical and sustainable tees. They use a range of sustainable materials like eucalyptus, recycled cotton, organic cotton, recycled plastic, and hemp fabric to manufacture their products. The use of plastic implies the use of some form of recycled polyester.

The Groceries Apparel factory is in Los Angeles to encourage local and traceable production. To eliminate toxic dye chemicals, the brand produces its own vegetable dyes.

Groceries apparel sometimes makes pure organic cotton clothing, and sometimes they combine different fiber materials.

Men and women can find unisex and gender-specific pocket tees on the groceries apparel website. You can also find hoodies, sustainable underwear, bodysuits, leggings, and tanks. 

Shop Groceries Apparel

The Good Tee

The Good Tee
Photo Credit: The Good Tee.

As a B-certified corporation, The Good tee is working hard to establish itself as a force for good in the fashion industry. The company is also fair trade cotton & GOTS certified.

The company is concerned about the welfare of cotton farmers and pays a premium directly to garment workers for every shirt sold. The brand operates slower production schedules.

They use low-impact dyes and offer customized screen printing services with low environmental impact. They pre-shrink the t-shirts and treat them to minimize future shrinkage.

The good tee offers organic basics for men and women. Their best sellers include ‘the favorite fair trade organic unisex tee’ and ‘the relaxed fit ¾ sleeve v-neck t-shirt.’ They also have a collection for children.

Shop The Good Tee

Know The Origin

Know The Origin
Photo Credit: Know The Origin.

From seed to garment, Know The Origin ensures ethical fashion through direct involvement. Taking a cue from the Rana Plaza disaster, the founder of this brand worked to build an ethical clothing brand that is fair to cotton farmers and garment workers.

The brand collaborates with Hyderabad, an Indian cooperative of organic cotton farmers and a credible manufacturer in Tirupur. 

This brand sells its own branded organic cotton t-shirts and shares its platform with other t-shirt brands using organic fabrics and practicing ethical production.

Apart from t-shirts, you can get other ethical fashion products made from eco-friendly materials on their website.

Shop Know The Origin

Classic T-shirt Company

Classic T-shirt Company
Photo Credit: Classic T-shirt Company.

This is one of the notable luxury organic t-shirt brands that manufacture their products in the USA. The classic t-shirt company operates out of a family-owned factory in Los Angeles.

They have crew and v-neck sustainable apparel designs in neutral and cool earth colors. You have different sleeve options to choose from. The design range for men and women looks the same, but they are cut to fit differently. The company recommends cold washing and warns against bleaching. 

The Classic T-shirt Company makes all its products from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton, and they come packaged in recycled materials. 

The company also donates a percentage of its profits to support causes that provide clean water, plant trees, and clean up oceans worldwide.

Shop on Amazon or Shop Class T-shirt Company

Dusk Shop

Dusk Shop
Photo Credit: Dusk Shop.

This eco-friendly t-shirt is made from organic cotton and made fairly. The t-shirt has funny dinosaur inscriptions, and you will find it appealing if you are a fan of Jurassic Park.

Apart from humor, the brand tries to offer the highest standards of ethical production. They get their organic cotton from an Indian region with an excess water supply thanks to monsoons.

They are one of the few brands that power their manufacturing process with green renewable energy to reduce their carbon footprint. Dusk Shop produces its t-shirts in line with PETA, GOTS, and FWF guidelines. 

Dusk Shop organic t-shirts come in compostable packaging. The company says it reduces the carbon footprints of its t-shirts by 90% using calculations certified under the PAS2050 standard. They stock a variety of colors for men and women.

Shop on Etsy or Shop Dush Shop

The Organic Apparel

Organic Apparel
Photo Credit: Organic Apparel.

How about a clothing brand that combines natural cork and organic cotton? The organic apparel’s love t-shirt is a loose-fit tunic with ¾ sleeves for women. Instead of prints or embroidery, the shirt features an applique made of cork.

This unique combination of materials makes the LOVE tees a must-have in the search for fashion-forward apparel.

The tees come in white and purple. The brand designs and manufactures its products in Portugal. They use low-impact, non-toxic dyes, and plastic-free packaging. The high-quality crew neck t-shirt comes in s-xl sizes.

Shop on Etsy or Shop The Organic Apparel

Organic Signatures

Organic Signatures
Photo Credit: Organic Signatures.

Crew neck or v-neck, whichever you prefer, organic signatures have ethical basic cotton tees. The t-shirts are made from organic cotton and are cool and breathable.

The plain t-shirts are entirely free of latex, chemical, and synthetic fibers. They source their organic cotton responsibly only from fair trade farms.

This brand says its t-shirt emits 46% less greenhouse gas than a non-organic t-shirt. They design casual tees for men, and they come in a range of small to double extra-large sizes. If you like a ‘no-nonsense’ yet casual look, then check out this store's basic t-shirts. 

Shop on Amazon or Shop Organic Signatures

Why choose ethical & sustainable t-shirts?

hanged t shirts
Photo by Parker Burchfield on Unsplash.

A t-shirt does not seem like much; sometimes it's plain other times, they come adorned with graphic prints. In all sorts of fabrics, shapes, and sizes, the t-shirt really is one of the more versatile clothing items.

It's also usually the cheapest item in-store, but clothes cost much more than money. The environmental cost of clothes outweighs the value we usually get from them. 

The fashion industry is the second-largest environmental polluter, and the industry is responsible for 10% of annual human-caused carbon emissions3.

It is also the second-largest consumer of the planet’s water supply. Further, production processes also use toxic chemicals that can end up in rivers and oceans, making them unsafe for wildlife and humans. 

Related: 37 Fast Fashion Facts & Statistics

Environmental and Human Cost of the Standard t-shirt

Environmentally, t-shirts are not cheap; purchasing one white cotton t-shirt results in the same amount of greenhouse gas emission as a 35-mile car drive.

If cotton tees are so problematic, imagine the damage polyester t-shirts can cause. You probably wear tees more often than other kinds of apparel, so wash them more. Washing a load of synthetic clothing sheds over 700,000 microplastics. 

There is also the issue of poor working conditions and human rights violations. Some top fashion brands source labor from countries like China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia. They do this because the economic situation in those countries created the conditions for cheap labor.

Factory owners often exploit garment workers. For every 29 euro T-shirt you buy, they earn about 18 cents.

Earning so little, they are unable to afford basic needs like comfortable housing. Many garment workers barely make enough to send their children to school. In 2013, 1,100 workers died when the Rana Plaza collapsed, and many others sustained injuries.

There have also been numerous factory fires that resulted in the loss of lives. There are even reports of child labor in cotton farms2.

Textile waste

In the US alone, textile waste amounts to 4% of municipal solid waste1. Consumers worldwide seem not to do a great deal better than fashion companies, as 80% of all textiles end up in landfills or incinerators every year.

Waste like this pollutes the environment and results in wasted financial resources. One factor that may be responsible for such waste is fast fashion, which is infamous for inferior-quality apparel. 

Getting maximum value for the money you spend on clothing begins with buying high-quality clothing. Proper care of your t-shirts is also essential, but poor-quality t-shirts may not be worth the effort.

One important quality of eco-friendly t-shirts is that they make them with quality materials and processes that ensure durability. This quality helps ensure that they don't end up in landfills a few months post-purchase.

What makes a t-shirt ethical?

white t shirt
Photo by Haryo Setyadi on Unsplash.

To be ethical simply means prescribing to a code of conduct or standard. When applied to fashion, ethics cover production practices that are eco-friendly, humane, and value-oriented. Here are some things to watch out for before classifying a t-shirt as sustainable and ethical or not.

Fiber Material

When buying your sustainable t-shirt, the first thing to consider is the materials it is made from. Natural fibers are always a better choice for the most sustainable t-shirt as they will decompose into organic matter when in a landfill, unlike synthetic fibers made out of fossil fuels which are plastic and don’t biodegrade.

Of all natural fibers, cotton is the most used, but it is not without some downsides. A quarter of pesticides used in the United States result from conventional cotton farming. Cotton is a water-consuming crop. It adversely affects the water supply when cultivated commercially.

Read more: Environmental Impact of Cotton from Growing, Farming & Consuming

Organic cotton is the most favored ethical fiber used in sustainable shirts. This is because they grow it without pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Other sustainable natural fibers include bamboo lyocell and hemp

Blends of these fabrics are also common, e.g., a hemp cotton blend, as are recycled nylon and other synthetics. However, recycled synthetics are still synthetics, so whereas an improvement on drawing on raw materials, the best option for the environment is always organic and sustainably sourced.

Transparent production process

In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission sued several fashion companies for the false representation of bamboo rayon as natural bamboo textiles.

This was because although the production started with bamboo, the chemical-intensive production process produced an entirely synthetic fabric. Up until that time, these companies successfully hid the truth about their production process from consumers.

Sustainable and ethical fashion producers have a transparent production process that allows auditing and certification. Some ethical certifications include fair trade factories, global organic textile standards, and fair wear. PETA and OEKO-TEX also give certifications to brands that are vegan and eco-friendly. 


Buying poor-quality t-shirts that wear out too soon wastes resources, some of them not renewable. Brands make ethical t-shirts to last, ensuring optimum use of resources. High-quality tees stay in excellent condition for a long time with proper care.

This makes it possible to donate or resale it via an online thrift store in the event it’s at the end of its useful life for you.

Supply chain

Ethically sourced materials are essential in sustainable clothing. An ethical supply chain should ensure that the environment does not suffer damage while raw material is being taken from it.

Also, an ethical supply chain ensures fair trade. This means that go-betweens do not get to cheat farmers out of appropriate payment for their fiber, as may prove the case with more traditional clothing brands sold cheaply in volume.

Labor practices

One problem with the fast-fashion supply chain is the unfair treatment of garment workers. Garment workers suffer everything from delayed wages, underpayment, extortion, physical abuse, hazardous working conditions, and even death. Socially responsible organizations like the Fair Trade Association work to improve these workers' lives. And they ensure the payment of fair wages.

Buying fair trade-certified products assures you that the workers who stitch your tees are not having their human rights trampled on, and your t's are made by people benefitting from ethical working conditions.


What’s better than ethically made t-shirts? Ones that we can recycle! We can repurpose a t-shirt or recycle it into another product to extend its life and service, making it an ethical option. 

Also, ethical tees get bonus points if they are pre-loved. The essence of sustainability is preserving what we already have rather than getting a new one. 


The basic tee is a clothing item that has become so commonplace that it's easy to overlook its environmental and social costs. People who care about the environment are already practicing sustainable fashion and seeking fast fashion alternatives, but the apparel industry needs more than eco-friendly manufacturing.

Eco-friendly apparel also needs to care about people, garment workers deserve a better work environment, and farmers need fair trade to make a profit. Next time you're looking for a brand-new tee, take the time to consider where and how it was made.

Buy sustainable t-shirts, and you can have a wardrobe full of high-quality t-shirts without a guilty conscience.

1Luz Claudio, 2007, Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry, Environmental Health Perspectives 115:9 CID:

List of goods produced by child labor or forced labor. Bureau of International Labor Affairs. U.S. Department of Labor.

3Ellen MacArthur Foundation, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashions future. 2017.
By Jennifer Okafor, BSc.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Photo by Akash Rai on Unsplash
Pin Me:
Pin Image Portrait 13 Sustainable T-shirts & Ethical Brands to Shop
Sign Up for Updates