Whether you are a lover of socks or are simply looking to replace your old socks with some sustainable ones, you can use this list to help you choose from some of the best sustainable eco friendly socks on the market right now.
Before we get into it though, have you ever wondered where socks came from? Well, it turns out they date all the way to the Romans, who opted to wear them with sandals to keep their feet warm and dry.
The oldest pair of surviving socks were actually found in Egypt. They're a bright-colored, red-orange pair made of woven wool yarn, and dyed using plants (Smithsonian Magazine, 2018). Surprisingly intact, this old pair of socks survived about 1,700 years in a landfill before they were retrieved in the early 1900s.
While the concept has existed for quite some time now, socks were largely reserved for the rich, even after the Industrial Revolution. It also turns out that (as you may have imagined) stockings are actually an evolution of the sock.
Thankfully that is no longer the case, and socks have become an accessible item for many. So then, what should we be looking out for when choosing the most sustainable socks possible?
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Why consider sustainable, eco friendly socks?
The environmental impact of the garment industry is considerable no matter the item. From our t-shirts and jeans to our undies and our socks, opting for the eco-friendly option makes a considerable difference for the planet, for the people who make our garments, and for our health as well.
What to look for when buying sustainable and eco friendly socks
When looking for sustainable eco friendly socks, we consider the same criteria as we would when choosing anything else, from sustainable sweaters and ethical winter coats to fair trade pajamas and eco-friendly robes:
- Natural or organic fabrics & materials like ethical wool
- Ethical sourcing
- Corporate responsibility
1. Natural or organic fabrics & materials
Here we consider what the garment is made of and opt for the best natural/organic fabric options available. These types of fabrics are as gentle on our skin and on the planet as they are on those who work with them.
2. Ethical sourcing
Next, we consider where materials are sourced and the practices used across the supply chain to create the final garment. This is very important because it's where we learn about how materials are made and how the workers who make our garments are treated.
3. Corporate responsibility
Finally, we consider every brand based on its commitment to high standards of performance, social responsibility, and environmental accountability. From net-zero carbon commitments to plastic-free shipping to charitable donations, we look for brands that really reflect what we stand for, and that we can truly stand behind.
Top picks for best eco socks
Now that you know what to keep an eye out for, here are our top picks for the best environmentally friendly socks:
EarthHero is an eco-friendly online marketplace focused on providing products that are ethically sourced, manufactured, and shipped, all with our shared future in mind. All of the brands featured in their marketplace are selected by EarthHero’s team of passionate researchers who make it easier for us to make better choices. Their selection of socks includes a wide array of styles and colors.
Earth Hero's fabrics & material
EarthHero features socks in several types of fabric including organic cotton, upcycled cotton, upcycled polyester, recycled polyester, hemp, and even a selection of ethical merino socks. Try out their filters to refine your search by ‘Materials.'
Earth Hero's Ethical sourcing
EarthHero ensures that all of the products featured in their marketplace are sourced, manufactured, and shipped responsibly. EarthHero also offers the option to filter their selection based on ‘Sustainability Features’ including Made in the USA, Organic Content, Renewable Resources, and more.
Earth Hero's Corporate responsibility
EarthHero is a certified B Corp, a member of 1% For The Planet, and is fully carbon-neutral through CarbonFund. They also strive to reduce waste by composting and recycling wherever possible and have other sustainable practices in place to reduce their consumption and lower their impact. Check out their website for more information.
2. Friday Sock
Friday Sock Co. is a Canadian sock company that offers a wide selection of ethical socks for men, women, and kids in a variety of styles and colors. Their selection is colorful and playful and they even offer the option to create your own custom socks (for a minimum of 150 pairs).
Friday Sock's fabrics & material
Most of their socks are made of OEKO-TEX certified Egyptian Combed Cotton yarn. Their Friday Kids line is made of GOTS certified cotton, and they also have a recycled cotton collection made from pre-consumer cotton and pima cotton.
Additionally, Friday Sock Co. offers a luxury collection made from high-quality mercerized cotton with anti-bacterial and anti-shrink properties.
Friday Sock's Ethical sourcing
Friday’s socks are all ethically made in Italy, in small batches, by a family-owned factory.
Friday Sock's Corporate responsibility
With no plastic hooks or barb (to hold the socks together), your socks arrive wrapped in a 100% cardstock hand-tag, tied together with thread instead of plastic. Polyamides left over during the yarn production process are recycled or re-used.
They also donate a portion of all their profits to charitable causes. In 2020, they donated over $50,000 to the Calgary Food Bank, Mamas for Mamas, Kidsport, Calgary Reads, U of C Pediatric Psychosocial Oncology and Survivorship, EvenStart Foundation, and others.
Based in Denmark, Organic Basics puts sustainability at the core of its operations. Everything they make is designed to last, using quality fabrics and craftsmanship while retaining simplicity and functionality. Along with lots of staple essentials and ethical activewear, they also offer a wide selection of options including sustainable ankle socks, eco friendly athletic socks, vegan eco friendly socks, sheer socks, and even some recycled denim socks.
Organic Basic's fabrics & material
All of their socks are either made of GOTS certified organic cotton or recycled materials.
Organic Basic's Ethical sourcing
Organic Basics only works with trusted, certified factories that ensure ethical labor practices (meaning no child or forced labor is used and workers are paid living wages). Using GOTS-certified cotton also means that no harmful chemicals were used in the growing process and that workers who make their cotton are employed under safe working conditions, and are paid a living wage.
Organic Basic's Corporate responsibility
Organic Basics is B Corp Certified and a member of 1% For The Planet. Some of their other initiatives include the Organic Basics Fund, which is designed to support grassroots activities and organizations working to address our planet’s environmental crises. They’ve also created the Regenerative Cotton Pilot Project (in partnership with WWF) to support farmers who want to make the switch to regenerative agricultural practices. Check out their 2020 Impact Report or their B Impact Report for more information.
Based in Boulder, Colorado PACT is striving to be Earth’s Favorite Clothing company. To that end, they offer a wide selection of basics for men, women, and kids, which includes sleep sets, apparel, underwear, and of course a selection of affordable eco friendly socks.
PACT's fabrics & material
Like many of their garments, their socks are made from 100% GOTS-certified cotton.
PACT's Ethical sourcing
Pact ensures that its partner factories are Fair Trade Certified. This ensures safe working conditions, environmental protection, sustainable livelihoods, and financial support for their workers.
PACT's Corporate responsibility
Your PACT gear will arrive in 100% post-consumer recycled paperboard and cardboard boxes, and biodegradable plastic polybags. They also offer the option to offset the carbon footprint associated with your shipment, so look out for that when you are completing your order. Additionally, PACT started a clothing donation program in partnership with Give Back Box, where you can donate your gently used clothing (of any brand) using a pre-paid label.
tentree is a Canadian company offering sustainably made Earth-First essentials for women, men, and kids. Making sure to retain maximum comfort while minimizing our footprint, their selection includes all the everyday essentials we could possibly need, including some of the best Canadian athleisure wear, and sustainable socks made out of recycled materials.
tentree's fabrics & material
Tentree’s socks are made of REPREVE Polyester, a trusted brand in recycled polyester. Made from 3 recycled plastic bottles, their socks also contain virgin polyester and elastane.
tentree's Ethical sourcing
Ethically made in China, Tentree ensures that the people who make their socks are paid fairly, work reasonable hours, and have access to insurance coverage. Their partner factories are also required to comply with international labor standards, as well as the Tentree Code of Conduct. They are also regularly audited to ensure compliance.
tentree's Corporate responsibility
For every item purchased, Tentree plants 10 trees on your behalf. They are also certified B Corp, reflecting their commitment to their employees, the communities in which they work, and the environment. For more information about their corporate responsibility, check out their B Impact Report.
Better known for their selection of earth-friendly shoes made out of revolutionary wool fabric, Allbirds also offers apparel including tees, sweaters, and socks. Their selection of socks includes a wide range of colors and sizes for both men and women, designed for running or everyday use.
Allbirds fabrics & material
Their socks are made of Trino® Material, which is created from a combination of eucalyptus fiber and ZQ Merino wool, making them a great option for sustainable wool socks.
Allbirds Ethical sourcing
Allbirds source their wool ethically by working with leading organizations like ZQ Merino to ensure that the wool they use is held to high standards of farming, land management, and animal welfare. To ensure that the factories they use maintain ethical practices, Allbirds conducts its own audits, and allows for third-party social assessments by independent firms.
Allbirds Corporate responsibility
Allbirds is a B-certified corporation. Their packaging is made of 90% recycled cardboard, and they were the first company to label all of their products with what they call a carbon footprint label. They offset their carbon emissions by taxing themselves for the carbon they emit, which then goes to fund offset projects until they reach their goal of achieving net-zero emissions.
Among other commitments toward reversing climate change through better business, Allbirds has also committed to sourcing 100% of their wool from regenerative sources and to reducing or sequestering 100% of on-farm emissions by December 2025.
Rawganique is a small-scale US-based manufacturer committed to providing a chemical-free and organic selection of eco friendly bedding, fair trade pajamas, organic underwear, and so much more. With that, you will find a wide range of ethical sustainable socks that are great for people looking for organic, chemical-free, and plastic-free options.
Rawganique’s fabrics & material
Rawganique's offering of organic sustainable socks is available in organic cotton, linen, or hemp. They come in different styles for both men and women, all made without any toxic chemicals or toxic dyes.
Rawganique’s Ethical sourcing
Rawganique’s natural fiber organic socks are made in the USA or in the EU, entirely sweatshop-free.
Rawganique’s Corporate responsibility
Rawganique prides itself on providing the best natural, raw, and untreated products possible while remaining small and producing everything in-house. As such, they rely on a small team of 50 artisans and partners all located in the USA, Europe, or Canada.
Based in Canada, KOTN strives to set the standard for conscious creation and consumption by being rooted in considered design, relentless quality, honest values, and a positive impact on people and the planet. Also featured on our list of some of the best eco friendly t-shirts and eco-friendly bedding, KOTN also offers a selection of socks in several styles and in an assortment of colors.
KOTN’s fabrics & material
KOTN’s socks are made of 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton, which makes for a finer, softer, and stronger fabric than conventional cotton fabric.
KOTN’s Ethical sourcing
KOTN only sources their cotton directly from farmers with a Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) certification. As for production, all of their garments are ethically made in Egypt and Portugal where they ensure that factory employees are paid fair wages and have safe working conditions.
KOTN’s Corporate responsibility
In line with their goal of providing more conscious creations, KOTN promotes access to education in Egypt where all of their cotton is grown. So far, they’ve successfully built and are now operating 7 new schools in rural areas of Egypt.
Using revenue generated from sales, KOTN has also funded several other social impact projects including providing financial and other resources to smallholder farmers and impoverished communities.
Now, they’ve committed to making 100% of their natural fibers certified organic within the next 5 years.
A final word on ethical socks
Our rule of thumb when looking for any sustainable and ethical fashion is to always consider buying secondhand. To help with that, check out our list of 37 Online Thrift Stores For Secondhand Clothing. Ultimately, buying secondhand is the most sustainable and ethical solution when it comes to clothing. But when that is not possible and you need to buy new things, remember to support slow fashion for a much kinder alternative on our planet and its people, and the same goes for your sustainable sneakers.
And for more sustainable shopping check out our brand directory, where you will not only find the best eco socks but pretty much anything you might need from fashion to skincare to shoes, bags, intimates, and even men's wear!
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