The cold weather is here, and that means it’s time to bundle up! We gave you our recommendations for the best organic and non-toxic sweaters, scarves, and gloves… and now it’s time to talk about hats!
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Why Go for Wool?
A lot of winter hats and beanies are knit with acrylic yarn, which is a synthetic material. As we discussed with sweaters and scarves, these synthetic materials are not great for human health or the environment in the long run. They’re petroleum-based materials that can contain chemicals that are potentially toxic to human and environmental health.
That’s why many people are opting for natural materials instead, whenever they can. Wool is an incredibly warm and durable material that’s also non-toxic and biodegradable at the end of its life (as long as it’s not treated with toxic dyes or finishes.) Plus, when done responsibly, wool does not require that any harm comes to the animals from which it’s sourced either.
Look for brands using Climate Beneficial Wool, which has been verified as regenerative by Fibershed, and Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) wool, which ensures a “standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on.”
Types of Wool
Different types of wool have varying pros and cons. Merino wool, which comes from a specific kind of sheep, is softer and lighter weight than most other types of sheep’s wool.
Cashmere comes from the undercoat of a certain kind of goat that lives in the Himalayas. It’s softer, finer, and more luxurious compared to most other types of wool, but also tends to be more expensive and less durable.
Alpaca wool is the best of both worlds: it’s soft and lightweight, but also very durable and temperature-regulating. It’s also relatively rare, so it can be more expensive.
Yak wool has a lot of the same benefits as alpaca, but at a more affordable price point.
Lastly, recycled wool of various types is a great option because it keeps materials out of landfills and reduces the amount of virgin material needed to be sourced from animals.
Other Materials for Winter Hats & Beanies
If you don’t like wool or try to stay away from animal-derived products completely, some of the brands below also use natural and eco-friendly materials like organic cotton. Although it’s not quite as warm or durable, organic cotton is a great non-toxic and vegan alternative to wool hats.
Our Favorite Brands for Wool & Cashmere Winter Hats and Beanies
Canada-based B Corp brand, Frank & Oak, makes neutral-colored beanies made from Yak wool from the Himalayas! Yak is a luxurious, durable, and more affordable alternative to cashmere.
Organic Basics’ beanies are ethically made, lightweight, and gender-neutral. They’re made from recycled cashmere, so not only are they made from super soft natural fibers, but they keeps materials out of landfills, too.
Nadaam’s ethically made unisex beanies are made from natural and responsibly sourced cashmere that come in a wide variety of gorgeous solid colors.
Everlane’s gender natural winter beanies are made using mostly cashmere, with a little bit of synthetic for stretch.
ABLE is an ethical fashion brand that employs and empowers women as a solution to end poverty. Their super soft beanies are made out of 100% wool rib knit.
Quince’s beanies are made from Grade A Mongolian cashmere and come in a variety of different styles—including pom pom!
Outerknown’s colorful and gender-neutral beanies are made with soft Climate Beneficial™ fibers from sheep in California and alpaca in New York (verified by Fibershed). Dedicated to responsibility, Outerknown has been one of the leaders in sustainable innovation in the apparel industry for many years now.
Theory’s unisex winter hats and beanies are made out of wool for warmth and cashmere for softness.
This Canada-based ethical brand makes beanies and toques out of 100% RSW certified wool as well as other natural materials like organic cotton.
Thought’s beanies are made out of blends of GOTS certified organic cotton, wool, and some nylon (so be sure to check before purchasing!). Based in the U.K., Thought is committed to continual improvement toward thoughtful design and responsible manufacturing.
This brand has been around since 1976! “Rarer than cashmere and warmer than wool,” Peruvian Connection sources their luxurious alpaca wool from the Peruvian Andes (where alpacas are virtually never raised for their fur). They’re committed to working with traditional Alpaca farmers in order to make sure the entire process is ethical and sustainable for everyone involved.
Kotn’s unisex beanies are made out of 100% BCI cotton (which is kind of in between conventional and organic cotton). They’re also ethically made in Portugal using certified OEKO-TEX® non-toxic dyes.
Cover image: Everlane. All product images belong to respective brands.