Close-up of woman walking down street with hands in her pocket wearing a sustainable scarf made with natural materials.
December 19, 2023
 in 
Slow Fashion

11 Fair Trade and Sustainable Scarves Including Handcrafted Options To Help You Bundle Up

Pinterest Icon.Instagram icon
W

elcome to sustainable living—where consumers have increased environmental awareness and ethical considerations. 

It's no wonder many of us tend to choose sustainable products, from food choices to toiletries to even home décor. However, did you know that sustainable living also extends to your fashion choices?

From shoes to shirts to even your accessories, there are plenty of sustainable choices that let you express your unique sense of style while still contributing to saving the planet! One of those is your toasty scarf.

In this piece, you'll learn what makes a scarf sustainable, along with our sustainable scarf recommendations. You'll also learn how to care for your sustainable scarf properly! So, what are you waiting for? Let's dive in!

Table of  Contents

What makes a scarf sustainable?

Scarves are versatile accessories no matter the season. They keep you warm and toasty during the chilly temperatures of the fall and winter, and lightweight scarves help you be stylish and cool during the warmer temperatures of spring and summer!

If you're on the path towards sustainable living, how can you ensure your scarves align with your lifestyle choice?

Fortunately, scarves can also be sustainable, and here's how:

1. It's made through fair trade practices

Did you know that sustainability in your scarves often begins with fair trade practices?

When a scarf is produced under fair trade conditions, you can rest assured that the artisans and workers involved in its creation are treated ethically, including receiving fair compensation for their labor. After all, fair trade practices focus on social responsibility and environmental consciousness.

By choosing sustainable scarves made through fair trade, you can contribute to the well-being of the people behind the product. Plus, you can also support ethical working conditions!

2. It's made with cruelty-free materials

A product cannot be described as sustainable without a lack of animal testing or cruelty in its production. After all, many goods produced in the past decades were made with animal skin or fur or even tested using animals. Traditionally, scarves are made from animal-derived materials such as wool, silk, and cashmere.

However, if you're going sustainable, you should purchase those crafted with ethical and sustainable scarf materials. There is a wide range of materials to choose from, from organic wool to peace silk. These scarf materials prioritize the well-being of the animals concerned. 

3. It's made from eco-friendly certified materials

In addition to cruelty-free production, eco-friendly scarves are also made from materials that are sourced and produced in ways that minimize environmental impact. For example, the scarf material (aka cloth) could be manufactured from sustainably grown fiber crops or even recycled materials.

But how would you know if the scarf fabric was made sustainably?

Simple— just look at the label!

According to Green America, you should look for the following labels to ensure your scarf has been made from sustainable materials.

  • Bluesign – Certifies that your scarf wasn’t exposed to any harmful chemicals throughout the entire supply chain, from raw materials to the finished product.
  • Certified Organic – Means that the raw materials for the scarf fabric were grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, ensuring your scarf isn't toxic!
  • GOTS Organic – When a scarf is certified GOTS organic, it means that 95% of the materials used are organic, with no toxic dyes or finishes. Plus, the brand complies with the waste and labor standards of the Global Organic Textile Standard.
  • OEKO-TEX – Guarantees your scarf has limited toxins, from raw materials to the finished scarf.
  • SA8000 - Guarantees that the factories and farms involved in creating the scarf meet the SAI's standards for social responsibility and labor rights.
  • Union-made Private Labels – This indicates that the workers involved in the scarf production are allowed to organize and advocate for better wages and working conditions.
  • Fair Trade – Ensures that workers who helped produce the scarf have healthy working conditions and earn a premium for community development, from farmers who grew the fibers to the workers who crafted the scarf.

4. They're certified B-Corp businesses

The final touch on what makes a scarf sustainable is that they're made by certified B-Corp businesses.

What exactly is a certified B-Corp business?

It is a business that is committed to social and environmental responsibility. These companies adhere to rigorous standards of transparency, accountability, and ethical business practices.

When you support certified B-Corp businesses, you can ensure that your scarf purchase aligns with your values. You're also guaranteed to contribute to positive social and environmental impact!

What materials are used for sustainable scarves?

Rolls of fabric made with natural and eco-friendly fibers in various neutral colors.

Now that you've discovered what makes a scarf sustainable, you might wonder what fabrics and fibers are used to make them. Sustainable scarves are crafted from materials and fabrics that minimize their ecological footprint while still providing you with warmth and comfort.

Here are 5 of the best materials for your sustainable scarf, along with suggestions on how to care for them!

1. Organic cotton

Organic cotton simply means that it's been grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. A scarf made of organic cotton is soft and breathable. Plus, it reduces the environmental impact of conventional cotton production.

Care Instructions:

Organic cotton scarves preserve their quality if machine-washed in cold water with a mild detergent. You can preserve the fabric's softness by using a gentle cycle and avoiding bleach or any harsh chemicals. We recommend line drying to save energy and maintain its shape.

2. Tencel or Lyocell

Tencel or lyocell scarves are crafted from wood pulp – often eucalyptus or beech trees. Of course, these are sustainably sourced. Scarves made of this material are usually soft, breathable, and biodegradable.

Care Instructions:

Unlike organic cotton scarves, Tencel scarves should be hand-washed in cold water with a mild detergent. Gently wring out the excess water and avoid twisting to preserve its shape. Prevent your Tencel scarf from fading by hanging it in a dry, shaded area.

3. Recycled materials

As the name suggests, these scarves are made from recycled fibers or post-consumer waste materials. Imagine your candy wrapper transformed into a scarf! How cool is that? Since they're made of recycled materials and fibers, these scarves contribute to waste reduction and resource conservation.

Care Instructions:

Recycled fibers have specific care instructions, so make sure to follow what’s on the label. Typically, they can be machine-washed in cold water and line-dried.

4. Hemp

Hemp scarves are woven from the fibers of the hemp plant. These require minimal water and pesticides for growth, making them strong and durable.

Care Instructions:

Hemp scarves should be hand-washed in cold water using a mild detergent. Gently squeeze out the excess water from the scarf. Dry it flat on an absorbent surface to prevent it from stretching.

5. Bamboo

Bamboo scarves are made from bamboo fibers. These are soft and breathable, and bamboo plants grow rapidly with minimal water and pesticides.

Care Instructions:

Preserve your bamboo scarf by hand washing it in cold water with mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly and squeeze out excess water from the fabric. To preserve its softness, shape, and color, lay it on a flat surface to dry away from direct sunlight.

Aside from specific care instructions, here are some ways to make the most of your sustainable scarves:

  • Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach and fabric softeners when washing your scarf. These can harm the scarf's integrity as well as the environment.
  • Store your scarf in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This will prevent fading and damage.
  • Promptly repair small snags or loose threads to extend your scarf's lifespan.

Fair Trade and Sustainable Scarves: Our 11 Recommendations

You’ve learned what makes a scarf sustainable and how you can properly take care of it. However, the most important question remains: where can you purchase a sustainable scarf for your wardrobe?

There are plenty of sustainable brands on the market, and we've picked out 11 brands that truly commit themselves to sustainability!

1. Ten Thousand Villages

Fair trade and sustainable scarf made with alpaca wool by Ten Thousand Villages.

Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit organization offering a wide selection of handmade fair-trade scarves crafted by artisans worldwide. The organization puts artisans and the environment first, making it a fair-trade pioneer.

Its global maker-to-market movement ensures that your purchase will directly impact the lives and community of its makers in an under-resourced community.

Material: Ethically sourced modal, viscose, and silk

Price Range: $24.99 to $125.00

2. Global Gifts

Handcrafted and  fairtrade scarf sold by Global Gifts displayed on model in red color.

This is a 501c3-certified nonprofit business committed to creating sustainable economic opportunities for artisans and farmers globally. Their products are 100% handmade. They range from clothing to home goods to toys and even food items— all sourced from nearly 40 countries worldwide.

Another fair-trade pioneer, Global Gifts ensures that each artisan who worked on the product gets fairly paid and works under healthy conditions.

Material: Silk, blended Alpaca wool

Price Range: $22.00 to $54.00

3. NOVICA

Handmade sustainable scarf made with alpaca blend sold by NOVICA.

Partnering with the National Geographic Society, NOVICA is an eCommerce website enabling artisans to sell their handcrafted goods to customers all over the world, from Asia to Africa.

NOVICA has a wide range of hand-crafted products— clothing, toys, jewelry, and furniture.

Material: Silk, Alpaca wool, rayon, wool, acrylic, Pima cotton

Price Range: $14.99 to $319.99

4. Maggie's Organics Infinity Scarf

A Fairtrade and GOTS certified organic cotton infinity scarf by Maggie's Organics modeled in navy color.

Since its establishment in 1992, Maggie's Organics has been committed to using organic cotton in all of its products. The brand also has a Real Fair-Trade pledge, which means every artisan and worker has been treated fairly, from wages to work conditions.

They also work with farm collectives, well-led factories, and family-owned shops to provide you with sustainable products, from clothing to accessories.

Material: Organic cotton

Price Range: $39.00

5. EILEEN FISHER

Cashmere and silk blend sustainable scarf being modeled by lady wearing all black outfit. by Eileen Fisher.

Established by a renowned designer, this is a lifestyle brand committed to using the finest environmentally-friendly materials and fabrics. Many of its fabrics are ethically sourced, with some sourced from organic farms. The brand also creates accessories and shoes made from recycled plastic bottles, meeting the Global Recycled Standard.

With their fair-trade practices and sustainably sourced materials, they strive for low environmental impact, and sustainable production practices.

Materials: Organic cotton, cashmere silk

Price Range: $98.00 to $198.00

6. JAN 'N JUNE

GOTS Certified, Organic cotton knit scarf in black and white abstract pattern shown by model  wearing deep green and black outfit.

Based in Hamburg, JAN 'N JUNE is created by women entrepreneurs committed to sustainable, fair, and transparent fashion. Their products are produced in Portugal and Poland and ensure that fair trade conditions are met.

The brand also uses sustainable materials and has been GOTS-certified since May 2021.

Materials: Organic cotton, recycled polyester, lyocell

Price Range: $36.00 to $83.00

7. Tentree

sustainable scarf made with organic cotton by Tentree in beige.

This brand plants 10 trees for every purchase in an effort to regenerate ecosystems, decrease the carbon in the environment, and provide planting jobs in communities worldwide. Currently, the brand has planted over 105 million trees as a result of this initiative.

As a certified B-Corp, Tentree provides fair and healthy working conditions for all those involved in its supply chain and production. It values transparency, the environment, and all the people living in it.

Materials: Organic cotton, recycled polyester

Price Range: $68.00 to $78.00

8. SLATE + SALT

Handcrafted cotton scarf made with natural materials by SLATE + SALT brand.

Founded by an avid traveler, SLATE + SALT empowers artisans by providing them with a global customer base. Not only has this brand adapted fair trade practices, but it also uses sustainably-sourced materials in its offerings.

They also claim to empower women artisans and entrepreneurs, and help communities from underdeveloped countries, by sourcing goods that are handcrafted by small communities instead of large production facilities.

Materials: Linen, organic cotton, silk, bamboo, sheep and Alpaca wool

Price Range: $64.00 to $140.00

9. Opera Campi

Sustainable scarf in deep blue color made with hemp material by Opera Campi Brand

This Italian brand prides itself in creating premium quality garments and accessories that are also sustainable. The brand makes its own fabric, woven from hemp and based on scientific research.

In addition, they donate 4% of their profits to social causes. It's also one of the most inclusive brands— with sizes ranging from 3XS to 3XL.

Materials: Hemp

Price Range: $39.00 to $104.00

10. Anchal

Fairtrade and Artisan made scarf with in beige and black pattern by Anchal brand.

Established in 2010, Anchal is a nonprofit organization committed to addressing the exploitation of women worldwide, particularly in India and Louisville, Kentucky. They create employment opportunities, services, and products that empower these women.

In addition, Anchal uses carefully sourced recycled material, organic fibers, and natural dyes in creating every piece.

Materials: Silk, upcycled cotton saris

Price Range: $58.00 to $74.00

11. Bhumi

Knot scarf made with 100% GOTS certified organic cotton by Bhumi in navy and orange pattern.

With its GOTS-certified organic cotton, this Australian brand prides itself as a global leader in sustainable and ethical textiles. It has a wide range of products, from bedding to clothing and accessories.

Bhumi believes that luxury can also go hand-in-hand with sustainability as its products are 100% fair-trade, organic, and vegan.

Materials: Organic cotton, recycled elastane

Price Range: $59.00 to $79.00

You Can be Sustainable, Stylish, and Warm At the Same Time

Expressing your unique sense of style doesn't mean you can't be sustainable. With our growing interest in sustainability and environmental awareness, it's no wonder many businesses and organizations have committed to saving the planet. So, next time you’re looking for a scarf, try opting for a sustainable one!