Eco-friendly shopping is always tricky, but with towels, it’s downright confusing!
Lots of towels claim to be sustainable and good for the environment, but when you do your research it turns out to be a half-truth.
We’re going to help you bypass all the greenwashing and pick the best eco-friendly towels for your bathroom.
The best sustainable towels have all the qualities of a standard towel such as being super soft, absorbent and quick-drying. But instead of using toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process, they use natural, organic materials.
These eco-friendly towels are made using 10% recycled cotton, 10% recycled plastic water bottles, and 80% combed cotton. Each set saves 4.7 water bottles from being sent to landfill and reduces water usage in the production process by over 33 gallons.
The luxurious towels are GRS certified, which means they meet global recycling standards specifically for textiles. They also hold an OEKO-TEX Made in Green certificate, which means they’re free of any harmful substances and have been manufactured in a sustainable and ethical way.
These organic cotton towels are GOTS and OEKO-TEX certified, so you can be sure that they’re are a sustainable addition to your bathroom.
The towels are 550 GSM and represent the perfect balance between comfort and weight. They’re thick enough to feel plush but also won’t take ages to dry. The waffle texture helps improve absorbency so both you and the towel will be dry in no time.
These super lightweight towels are great for a day out on the beach or a trip to the spa. The material is thin with a GSM (grams per square metre) of 155 so dries quickly and doesn’t consume a lot of energy while washing or drying. This is especially helpful in the winter when thicker towels can take significantly longer to dry.
The 100% organic Turkish cotton is so soft that the towel can easily double as a blanket. It’s been pre-washed so you shouldn’t experience any shrinkage, and at 37″ x 70,” it’ll easily wrap around you.
These towels are a blend of 60% cotton, 20% recycled polyester and 20% hemp. Hemp is a renewable resource that doesn’t require any herbicides or pesticides to grow. It also uses very little water and returns up to 70% of its nutrients back to the earth.
Loft claim that the Oeko-Tex certified material is more absorbent than a 100% cotton towel and faster drying. You can choose from a range of colours, including aqua ice (pictured) and blush. We love the subtle tones because it means the towels should look good in any bathroom.
For those of you after a budget-friendly option, Eco linen offers these six full-sized towels for a very reasonable price.
The bath towels are made from 100% organic combed cotton in an OEKO-TEX Standard 100 factory. The brand has a continued focus on meeting high safety and environmental standards.
Pinzon bath towels are made using GOTS certified cotton and offer a truly luxurious experience. Measuring 70″ x 40″ with a GSM of 700, the baths sheets will envelop you in comfort and dry you off in no time.
As this is an Amazon brand, it ships in frustration-free packaging. Frustration-free packaging uses recycled boxes to cut down on waste and is free of any unnecessary cases or bindings.
This towel is made using 100% organic linen and meets the international Oeko-Tex standard. Linen is an absorbent, skin-friendly material. It also washes well, producing zero fluff and drying impressively fast.
Flax linen has some unique thermo-regulation properties that mean the towel will keep you cool in hot weather while also warming you up if it’s cold. Combine this with the ultra-portable nature of linen, and you have the perfect travel towel.
Welhome claims that their GOTS certified organic cotton towels are softer and more durable than regular cotton towels.
The ethical towels are manufactured by Welspun, a leading textiles producer that has set up several initiatives with the aim of improving the lives of workers in the industry. They also have a strong program in place to ensure sustainable practices are used across their whole supply chain.
No article on eco-friendly towels would be complete without mentioning Turkish cotton. These towels have been made in Denzil, Turkey using ethically farmed, premium cotton.
There are no dangerous chemicals used in the manufacturing of the towels, and the ends are double stitched to enhance durability. The towels are 700 GSM meaning they’re thick, soft and fluffy so you can get that spa feeling in your own bathroom.
They come in an array of beautiful colours including cranberry (pictured), plum and moss.
Bamboo is widely known as an eco-friendly material, so lots of people assume anything with bamboo on the label is good for the environment. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Towels are an example where bamboo isn’t always best.
The bamboo plant itself is very sustainable, it:
Sounds great right? But pure bamboo fibres are hard and scratchy, so not suitable for making towels. The environmental issues come when bamboo is turned into the delicate soft fabric you know and love. The name for this fabric is bamboo rayon. There are three main types of bamboo rayon.
The most common type is viscose bamboo. Most bamboo towels are made using the viscose method unless they say otherwise. The viscose process uses highly toxic chemicals that are extremely polluting to the environment. These chemicals are either disposed of as hazardous waste or end up leaking into nearby waterways.
The second type is modal bamboo. The modal process is essentially the same as the viscose process with a few extra steps to increase the strength of the material. The modal method still produces harmful chemical waste.
You might see some bamboo fabric products with an OEKO-TEX label which is usually a good sign. However, these products could still have been produced using viscose or modal methods. An OEKO-TEX certificate only means that the final product contains no harmful chemicals, not that no toxic chemicals were used in its production.
The third and final type is lyocell. The lyocell process is by far the most eco-friendly way to make bamboo fabric, but sadly the rarest. Instead of using harsh chemicals like the previous two processes, an organic solvent is used. Both the solvent and any water used in the process can be recycled and reused. This creates a closed-loop system that’s much better for the environment. If you ever see Tenecel used, this is just a brand name for bamboo fibres made using the lyocell method.
Ettitude is one of the few brands around using lyocell, and luckily for you, they have some beautiful waffle weave towels made using their signature bamboo lyocell fabric. Sustainable, soft and stylish!
One of the best ways to make sure you’re not being greenwashed is to look for certified towels. You can be confident that towels with eco-friendly certifications have been made in a sustainable and ethical way.
The most common certification for towels are:
GSM stands for grams per square meter. It’s a measure of the density of the towel. Generally, towels range from between 300-900 GSM with a higher GSM meaning the towel is thicker and heavier.
The GSM that’s best for you depends on what you want to use the towel for. Thicker towels are more luxurious and good for home use or guest bathrooms. Thinner towels are more portable and faster drying, so are better for on-the-go use and travelling.
Hopefully, we’ve helped you navigate the maze that is eco-friendly towels.
All the options we’ve featured are not only great towels, but are also great for the environment.
Veronica has a passion for all things eco-friendly. After growing up on a farm in Ireland, she went on to study Chemistry and Environmental Sciences. Veronica has also volunteered in many sustainability roles, including conservation efforts in Bangladesh and teaching Environmental Sciences to schoolchildren in Kenya.