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The Ultimate Guide to Buying Ethical & Eco Friendly Socks

The Ultimate Guide to Buying Ethical & Eco Friendly Socks - Sockwell
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Have you ever stopped and thought about your socks—we mean, really think about them? There’s a good chance you haven’t considered much more than their size or color, but these small pieces of our daily wardrobe can have a big impact.

Choosing to wear ethical and eco friendly socks can greatly benefit two very important things: your overall wellness and the environment. Once you realize how superior they are to typical synthetic pairs, you’ll see how simple it is to make a permanent switch (and maybe convert your friends and family, too). Consider this guide your crash course on identifying, and embracing, environmentally friendly socks.

How Eco Friendly Socks Help the Environment

First, let’s talk about the planet. According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans produced nearly 13 million tons of clothing and footwear waste in 2018 (compared to about 6.5 million tons in 2000 and just 1.4 million tons in 1960). Only about 13% of that waste was recycled; the majority of it went to landfills, where it can take decades or even centuries to decompose.

Even small changes in your daily life can do the planet good. The easiest way to reduce the amount your socks contribute to your carbon footprint is to opt for ones made sustainably and with naturally biodegradable materials among its components. Sockwell, for its part, is committed to reducing its environmental impact in every way possible—from using ethically sourced wool to producing recyclable packaging to implementing near-zero landfill warehousing operations. 

But to really be the natural choice, sustainable socks should be good for your feet, too. 

How Eco Friendly Socks Help Your Health

In our world, health and wellness start with your socks: The better you feel on your feet, the better you feel in general. Socks made with natural fibers, like merino wool and bamboo rayon, reign supreme because they are softer, more breathable, and ultimately more comfortable than the average synthetic pair.

All Sockwell socks are made with fine merino wool blends and are designed to be worn all day, every day. In addition to being extremely soft, the wool has incredible temperature-regulating properties, keeping your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Merino wool also naturally absorbs and evaporates moisture, preventing the growth of odor-causing bacteria.

At Sockwell, we like to say that we didn’t invent the merino wool sock, but we have certainly perfected it with our unbeatable custom blends.

4 Traits to Look for in Ethical Sustainable Socks

You’ve probably caught on by now that not all socks are created equal. With so many options out there, it can be tricky to decide which sustainable sock brands are truly eco friendly. Here are four characteristics to look for while doing your due diligence, and why we think Sockwell makes the best eco friendly socks on the market:

Natural Fibers

When a piece of clothing is made with natural fibers, everybody wins. Advantages for the sock wearer include more comfort, more quality, and more peace of mind about your purchase. Advantages for the planet include less waste, less pollution, and less energy consumption.

Every Sockwell sock is made with natural merino wool that is custom blended with either rayon from bamboo or alpaca. What is special about merino wool socks? As mentioned above, they’re the ultimate in all-day comfort because of their softness, breathability, and moisture-absorbing characteristics. Once you slip on a pair, you’ll feel the difference.

Fun (to us, at least) fact about ethical wool socks: Wool can actually hold up to 30% of its weight in moisture. Unlike cotton, which holds in moisture, wool allows it to freely evaporate.

Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing 

As with all clothing items, the way your socks are made can have a huge impact on the environment—from their design to their delivery to their disposal. Every manufacturer’s goal should be quality over quantity, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Sockwell responsibly sources raw materials from suppliers that are equally focused on reducing their environmental impact. Whenever possible, we use raw materials that are sustainably produced (like our wool, alpaca, and rayon from bamboo) or produced from recycled materials (we’re transitioning to recycled nylon made from pre-consumer fiber waste called Repreve).

Made in the USA

While it’s tempting to buy the cheapest or quickest version of a product you want, it’s often better to seek out goods produced in the United States. This way, you’re supporting businesses that meet American standards like fair wages and safe working conditions. Selecting American made socks and other products also saves and creates jobs, especially in times of economic hardship.

Knowing that eco friendly socks made in America have all these benefits, Sockwell proudly sources, spins, and knits merino wool into socks right here in the United States. Our U.S.-based merino wool supply chain greatly reduces our carbon footprint and supports local textile companies and farms. Since launching in 2008, we have been committed to supporting American sheep farmers and the revitalization of the American textile industry—below, you can read a bit more about the processes behind our made in the USA socks.

Sustainable Packaging

We don’t think we’re exaggerating when we say that there’s simply too much wasteful packaging in today’s world. Oversize boxes, excess fillers, non-recyclable materials—it all results in unnecessary volume at the landfill.

Sockwell is committed to using fully recyclable packaging materials. Our hanger packs are made of recyclable and/or biodegradable paper stock, and the associated plastic hook is recyclable as well. All Sockwell packaging is marked with appropriate How2Recycle directions that clearly label the type of product and its correct recycling stream.

Products purchased from our site are shipped in poly-mailer bags made of 100% recycled content (50% post-consumer waste) and printed with environmentally friendly ink. These mailer bags are both recyclable and reusable—the secondary adhesive strip allows you to repurpose it for future mailings. Just like our socks, our poly bags are made in the USA.

Why Is Merino Wool Sustainable?


You might be wondering: Is wool actually sustainable? We’d like to assure you: YES!

We source our wool, the primary ingredient in all of our eco friendly socks, from humanely raised sheep and process it right here in the USA. Our partners use state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly processes to wash and dye our yarns, and we do it with one of the smallest carbon footprints in the industry.

The Evolution of Our Sustainable Socks

Here’s a little peek into the journey of a Sockwell sock: The raw wool is shipped to Jamestown, South Carolina, where it’s scoured and shrink treated. From there, it travels to Pickens, South Carolina, to be spun into one of our custom crafted yarns.

If the yarn requires dyeing, it heads to nearby Valdese, North Carolina. All of our socks are knit in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama, and our packaging is printed in Concord, North Carolina. The finished product is warehoused at our home base in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

We ship our socks to happy customers across the country and around the world. If you live in the United States, you can feel proud that our homegrown wool doesn’t have to cross an ocean to find its way to your feet. And no matter where you live, when the wool is done serving its purpose as part of your favorite pair of socks, it will biodegrade and leave behind no trace.

Finding the Right Sockwell Style for You

Now that you know the amazing benefits of eco friendly socks, all that’s left to do is find the perfect pairs for you. Sockwell makes a variety of ethical sustainable socks for men and women in a range of colors and designs that will help you feel better in style. From graduated compression socks in moderate and firm styles to non-compression socks for everyday comfort, there is a merino wool sock that’s right for you. 

Lifestyle Compression

Our Lifestyle Compression socks are designed for anyone who sits or stands for long periods of time, like office workers, nurses and other medical professionals, retail workers, airline personnel, drivers, and travelers.

All of that sitting and standing can disrupt the blood flow in your legs, leading to discomfort, swelling, and fatigue. The compression in these socks gently massages your leg muscles to keep the blood flowing. Combined with the super-soft merino wool blends, it’s a total treat for your feet—you may even like these environmentally friendly socks enough to stock up with our Lifestyle Compression 3-packs!

Sport Compression

Strenuous activities like gym workouts and trail running can also disrupt the blood flow in your legs. Our Sport Compression socks are ideal for both enhanced performance and speedy recovery.

These eco friendly socks feature an ultra-smooth toe closure, added support, and that breathable merino wool to keep your feet dry and blister-free. Our Sport Compression socks are available in four heights: micro, quarter, crew, and over the calf. The taller socks provide more compression benefits, and all of them provide supreme comfort.

Relief Solutions

Soothe, protect, and support your delicate feet with our compression and non-compression Relief Solutions styles. In this category, you’ll find Bunion Relief socks, Plantar Fasciitis socks, and non-binding Relaxed Fit/Diabetic Friendly socks, all of which target specific concerns to help you feel better. 

Everyday Comfort

Our non-compression Everyday Comfort socks combine comfort and style whether you’re on the go or relaxing at home. They’re made with the soft merino wool you know and love and are available in designs like florals, animals, hearts, and more. Every pair comes with our Soft Top Promise—that’s our guarantee that these socks are non-binding and have a contoured fit to stay up and stay comfortable all day long.

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