We recently brought you our favorite brands for cozy winter sweaters made from natural and organic materials like organic cotton and wool.
In this article, we’ll briefly talk about why you might want to skip the synthetics and go for organic cotton and/or wool scarves this year, and then we’ll give you our list of the best brands for natural, sustainable, and ethically made scarves to keep you warm this winter.
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Why Go For Natural & Non-Toxic Materials in a Winter Scarf?
These days, a lot of scarves are made out of synthetic materials like polyester and acrylic, which are not ideal for several reasons. First, most of these synthetics are byproducts of the fossil fuel industry, which, at current outputs, is toxic to our overall health.
Second, these synthetic yarns can potentially contain known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors such as phthalates. While we don’t know for sure if wearing plastic clothing and accessories can actually affect one’s health the same way that, say, putting phthalate-laden lotion or perfume on your skin might, there are many people who are trying to reduce the general amount of these plastics and synthetic chemicals in their lives.
Lastly, scarves made from synthetic materials can shed microplastics as they’re worn and washed. These teeny, tiny pieces of plastic make their way into our ecosystems and waterways and are almost impossible to clean up. And it’s not only plants and animals that suffer because of it; these microplastics are making their way through our entire food chain and harming people as well.
Textiles to Look for in a Natural & Organic Winter Scarf
Instead of synthetics like acrylic and polyester, look for the following materials instead:
Cotton / Organic Cotton
Both conventional cotton and organic cotton are natural materials, so they’re both generally better options compared to most synthetics. Of course, organic cotton is the best option of the two because it’s grown without toxic synthetic pesticides and herbicides. Look for labels like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which is a third-party certification indicating the cotton was grown and harvested using a specific set of standards.
When it comes to natural textiles for warm clothing and accessories, wool is one of the best options. It’s incredibly warm and durable and, when sourced properly, it’s very low-impact when it comes to animals, humans, and the planet. Plus, wool is naturally odor- and wrinkle-resistant. Of course, there are many different types of wool depending on the animal and area from which it was sourced. Different types of wool have varying pros and cons.
Merino wool is one of the most widely used types of wool. It’s sourced from Merino sheep, which were originally bred in Spain and then later introduced to other parts of the world. Because Merino sheep live in areas without super harsh winters, their wool tends to be finer than other types of sheep wool.
One of the downsides of sheep wool is that it can be itchy for some people. This is because of something all sheep produce, called lanolin. Lanolin is a waxy substance that helps to increase water resistance and protect the sheep’s wool and skin from rainfall. The finer their wool, the more lanolin the sheep produces. This means most Merino contains higher levels of lanolin and therefore might be more irritating to some people. Don’t be afraid to test it out because some people react to lanolin and others don’t!
Cashmere wool is sourced from the undercoats of a specific type of goat in Mongolia. Goats don’t produce lanolin, which is why some people find cashmere to be more comfortable. It’s also finer and softer by nature compared to sheep’s wool. One of the downsides of cashmere, though, is that it tends to be less durable and more expensive.
Most alpacas have evolved in climates where they’ve had to ensure a wide range of temperatures throughout the year. Because of this, they’ve developed a unique kind of wool that is not only warmer than sheep’s wool, but also lighter and more durable due to its microscopic air pockets.
The other factor to consider is the dye used to color the knitwear you buy. Since many textile dyes can include toxic chemicals, you want to look for brands that use non-toxic, eco-friendly, and biodegradable dyes. These colorants are better for the wearer, the garment worker, and our ecosystems. Also look for third-party certifications like OEKO-TEX, which means the product has been tested for a long list of toxic substances.
The Best Organic Cotton and Wool Scarves to Keep You Warm in Winter
Organic Basics’ ethically made gender-neutral scarves are made from 100% recycled merino wool. Not only is it made from natural fibers, but it keeps materials out of landfills, too!
Smartwool carries solid-colored and patterned neck gaiters for men and women made from 100% merino wool.
Nadaam offers several different sustainable and ethical scarves made from natural and responsibly sourced cashmere that come in a wide variety of gorgeous solid colors.
PACT is one of our favorite brands for affordable organic apparel and accessories for the whole family. They offer Honeycomb Knit, Jersey, and Infinity scarves that are made with 100% organic cotton in Fair Trade certified factories. This brand would be a great option for vegans and those who prefer to stay away from any animal products.
Quince’s super soft and versatile wraps and scarves are made from Grade A Mongolian cashmere.
Peruvian Connection carries a wide variety of scarves for fall and winter that come with gorgeous patterns and designs. They use several different natural materials like baby alpaca, silk, wool, and cotton.
Theory’s oversized and honeycomb scarves are made with 100% lightweight cashmere that will take you from fall through winter and into spring.
Kowtow’s unisex scarves are made with 100% Fair Trade GOTS certified organic cotton. Throughout its entire supply chain, Kowtow prioritizes ethical and sustainable processes and materials for all of the people, animals, and ecosystems involved.
Zestt’s uber-popular and versatile scarves are ethically made in India out of GOTS certified organic cotton. Their scarves can cross seasons and are great for travel, too!
Cuyana’s scarves are made in Peru out of super-soft and hypoallergenic baby alpaca that’s traceable from farm to factory. It’s OEKO-TEX certified, which means it’s been tested for a list of toxic chemicals. It comes with beautiful details like dainty fringe and a golden button.
A certified B Corp brand, Kotn makes gender-neutral scarves made from BCI cotton (which is kind of in between conventional and organic cotton). They’re ethically made in Portugal using certified OEKO-TEX® non-toxic dyes.
Made Trade is one of the best marketplaces for ethical and sustainable fashion. They carry a wide variety of beautiful scarves from brands like MINNA, Anchal Project, and more. These scarves are made from natural and sustainable materials like wool, organic cotton, silk, and linen.
Rawganique is a clothing, accessories, and home goods brand that takes non-toxic manufacturing very seriously. Their unisex sweaters are made in the U.S.A. out of organic cotton and hemp and are completely free from toxic dyes or other toxic chemicals.
A trailblazer in the world of sustainable fashion that’s actually beautiful, Eileen Fisher’s brand manufactures a variety of fall, winter, and spring scarves made from organic cotton, linen, merino wool, cashmere, and more.
What’s your favorite brand for natural and organic scarves? Let us know if we’re missing a great brand!
Cover image: Organic Basics. All product photos belong to their respective brands