Written by Alana C.

When the summer comes, the sweaty afternoons leave us searching for clothes to keep us cool and comfortable in the heat. 

And considering you landed on this page, I’m assuming that you’re specifically looking for shorts that are not only comfortable and breathable but also healthy for you and for the planet.

So in this article, I’m breaking down what to look for in sustainable and non-toxic shorts, and then giving you my favorite brands for each category. This will include shorts made out of natural materials like linen, hemp, and organic cotton, as well as non-toxic dyes and other eco-friendly initiatives. (This guide will give you more of a deep dive into the toxic chemicals that are often added to clothing.)

Organic Shorts In a Nutshell:

  • You’ll generally want to look for natural fabrics such as organic or regenerative cotton, hemp, or linen. These fibers tend to not only be easier on human and environmental health, but they’re also more breathable!

  • You’ll also want to look for brands that:
    • use low-impact/non-toxic dyes
    • are free from extra finishes (like “stain-resistant” or “wrinkle-free”), which indicate potentially toxic chemicals have been added
    • prioritize ethical and sustainable manufacturing processes as much as possible

  • Scroll down for even more brand recs for organic cotton shorts!

This guide contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. As always, we only make recommendations that are genuine. Featured Image Credit: Taylor Stitch

Materials to Look for in Organic & Sustainable Shorts

If you want to skip straight to my brand recommendations, feel free to just scroll down. But if you first want to learn a little bit more about what to look for in non-toxic and eco-friendly shorts, here are some of the best materials:

1. Linen

Linen shorts work well as a summer fabric due to their lightweight and skin-friendly properties. Linen is a light, breathable fabric that works well for summer—it can make the hottest days feel cooler!

Linen is:

  • made from the flax plant, which doesn’t need fertilizer or pesticides to grow, and is not as water-intensive compared to other crops
  • naturally hypoallergenic
  • has natural antibacterial/antimicrobial properties
  • is breathable, thus can help prevent excess sweating
  • is quite durable and can get softer with time

2. Regenerative & Organic Cotton

Conventionally-grown cotton regularly uses pesticides and fertilizers that get dumped into local waterways, polluting the environment and wildlife, and ultimately—humans.

Organic cotton is a better buy because:

  • it doesn’t use harmful pesticides
  • it uses less water and fewer carbon emissions during production
  • it also doesn’t strip the soil of vital nutrients that are needed to continue growing crops in the future.

Regenerative cotton goes even further than organic by actually restoring the soil of those nutrients in the way it’s grown and harvested. Regeneratively grown cotton is more of a truly sustainable and reciprocal relationship.

Organic and regenerative cotton are also breathable, hypoallergenic fabrics that are soft on the skin.

3. Hemp

Hemp is a very eco-friendly fabric that’s similar to linen in that it can grow on different types of soil and climate. This is another one that’s natural and easy on the skin. It also:

  • doesn’t need herbicides because it’s naturally resistant to weeds
  • has been used since 8,000 B.C.!
  • is known for its strength and durability
  • is naturally anti-microbial, lightweight, and breathable, making it a great summer fabric.


TENCEL is woven using eucalyptus wood. The eucalyptus is grown in forests and can grow pretty fast, the way hemp can. It doesn’t need too much water to grow, making it environmentally friendly. The finished fiber is man-made, making it less of a 100% “natural” fiber and instead considered a “semi-synthetic.”

Although it’s a bit of a complicated subject, TENCEL is considered a type of rayon fabric. Most rayon fabrics are processed using toxic chemicals, but TENCEL is a much healthier option because it is manufactured using safer chemicals using a closed-loop process. You can take a deep dive into this subject right here if you want.

TENCEL is a great fabric for summertime because it can help control moisture and regulate temperature. It’s literally cool to the touch—even after you’ve been wearing it for several hours! The fabric itself is breathable and very durable.

Other Things to Look for in Shorts That Are Good for People & Planet

In addition to the materials used, here are a few other things to consider when shopping for non-toxic and organic shorts for summer:

1. Ethical & Fair Trade Manufacturing Processes

Are the people involved in making the shorts paid living wages and working in safe conditions? I always look for brands that prioritize transparency in their supply chains, whether that’s through Fair Trade certifications, regular visits to the factories where their clothing is made, or other third-party audits.

2. Non-Toxic Dyes & Minimal Finishes

Of course, the material used is only one part of the story when it comes to non-toxic clothing…

We also wonder how the fabrics are dyed and processed. Are they using natural and/or azo-free dyes? Are there any additives that make the fabric “wrinkle-free,” “moisture-resistant,” or “stain-resistant”? These marketing terms are usually red flags and could indicate that toxic PFAS or formaldehyde has been added to the fabrics.

3. Third-Party Certifications

Although third-party certifications are not always necessary (or perfect), they can help to provide consumers and brands with a certain level of accountability that a brand is actually doing what they say they’re doing when it comes to safe and eco-friendly materials.

Look for certifications such as:

  • GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)
  • FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)
  • and Fair Trade

4. Style & Function

And last but certainly not least, what style of shorts are you looking for? Something you can dress up and wear to a baby shower or dinner out? Something you can work out in? Something to throw on over your swimsuit on the way to the pool or beach? Something solid-colored and timeless, or something that has a fun pattern?

Although many of the brands below carry a variety of styles and designs, I’ve indicated which ones are my favorite for various categories in order to help with your shopping endeavors.


My Picks for Non-Toxic & Organic Shorts

Each company has a different aesthetic to suit your needs and closet. So, I’ve gathered up multiple brands of organic shorts, so you don’t have to!

Pact (most affordable)

Price range: $54-88
My pick: Daily Twill Short (women’s) and Canopy Linen Blend Weekend Short (men’s)

Pact is a Fair Trade brand that creates affordable and super comfortable clothing made (mostly) from organic cotton.

Their Women’s shorts collection includes several different relaxed fit styles that come in a variety of colors and are great for daily wear. Their Daily Twill and Canopy Linen shorts are a relaxed fit that can still be dressed up a little bit if you want to, whereas their Stretch French Terry Curved Hem Short has more loungewear/activewear vibes. They also have some in-between styles like the Canopy Linen Blend short.

Their Men’s shorts collection is similar: they have multiple different styles, all of which are great for everyday wear. They come in a variety of colors, from black or gray to pink or orange!

Use the code THEFILTERY15 for 15% off full-priced items.

I’ve included more brands that carry organic shorts for men below, but for now, here are several other brands that carry various styles of organic shorts for women:

Taylor Stitch (best option for men)

Price range: $88-108
My pick: The Aprés Short

Taylor Stitch is a great brand for high-quality sustainable menswear—shorts included.

Their Aprés Short is stitched together with 100% organic cotton and is available in several different neutral colors.

The Aprés Trail Short is made out of a blend of organic cotton and natural linen and has a casual style that can be dressed up or down.

Both styles have pockets in the back and front. They are lightweight and breathable, making them perfect for summer.

A few of my other favorite brands for organic and eco-friendly shorts for men include:

Little Green Radicals (best option for kids)

Price range: $24-42
My pick: Blue Twill Turn Up Sunshine Shorts

Little Green Radicals carries the cuuuuutest shorts for little ones, from sizes 00 to 8Y!

They’re made from 100% organic cotton (GOTS and Soil Association), and they come a with Fair Trade certification as well.

They have several different styles, from denim to relaxed-fit play shorts, and overall shorts, too. You can choose from solid colors or fun prints like stripes or polka dots.

Some of their shorts have even won various awards, too, like the Marie Claire UK Sustainability Award and the Junior Design Award. This means their kids’ clothes are not only healthy and organic, but they’re high-quality, too. I’m talking about comfort, friendliness, and durability through weeks and even years of play.

And for some more brands that carry non-toxic and eco-friendly shorts for kids:

Amour Vert (best for organic cotton denim shorts)

Price range: $29 (on sale) – $178
My pick: AGOLDE Stella Denim Short

Amour Vert carries a collection of sustainable denim shorts for women made mostly out of organic & regenerative cotton. They also use some linen and TENCEL as well.

Their fits are super wearable and “designed to be the perfect balance between style and comfort.”

In addition to using eco-friendly and skin-healthy fabrics, Amour Vert has other sustainability initiatives woven throughout their manufacturing processes, from the use of deadstock fabric, to planting trees, and more.

A few other brands that carry organic denim shorts (for all genders) are:

Harvest & Mill (gender-neutral options)

sustainable organic non toxic gender neutral shorts from harvest and mill

Price range: $58-98
My pick: Organic Heirloom Brown Athletic Shorts

Harvest & Mill is one of my favorite brands for super-comfortable loungewear made from regenerative cotton. Their gender-neutral shorts have a minimalist aesthetic and come in black or natural color. They have women’s and men’s sizes but the styles are the same.

These “beyond sustainable” shorts are made of organic cotton with a drawcord to have them fitted to your waist. Harvest & Mill manufactures their clothes and grows their cotton in the USA, so the whole supply chain stays within the states. The website shows the amount of energy, water, and soil the garment has used.

Many of their options are undyed, including their Heirloom Brown option (that’s the color of the actual cotton!). They also have a hand-dyed Indigo option.

Even though these have a rather simple style, the shorts can easily go with any shirt or top, making them versatile for lots of different summer occasions.

MATE (Best for activewear & loungewear shorts)

Price range: $29 (on sale) – $88
My pick: Organic Fleece Pocket Short

MATE has several different styles of women’s shorts to choose from. Each style of organic shorts has slightly different aesthetics, colors, and prices.

The Organic Terry Lounge Drawstring Short comes in a few different neutral colors and is great for everyday wearing.

If you’re looking for something that’s more specifically made for being active, check out their Organic Biker Short, which is made from organic cotton and available in a variety of colors and sizes.

They also carry linen shorts, which have a bit of a dressier feel to them, as well as soft organic fleece pocket shorts, and organic poplin shorts.

Most of MATE’s shorts have a minimalist look and can be worn for all kinds of occasions. They can easily become your organic short staple for the whole summer, great for lounging around, running errands, gardening, or working out.

Their website shows how much water and carbon the garment uses, so you feel confident with your sustainable purchase. All their garments are sewn and dyed in Los Angeles, California.

P.S. If you’re looking for more organic activewear suggestions, check out this article.

Afends (Best organic shorts for teens)

Price range: $70-90
My pick: Organic & Recycled Denim High Waisted Shorts

Afends has a variety of different styles of shorts (and skirts) that are made out of non-toxic and eco-friendly materials like OCS certified organic cotton and hemp.

They have classic denim, corduroy, checkered, camo, floral patterns, solid colors, and more. They also have a collection of shorts for men.

Throughout their entire supply chain, Afends is committed to ethical and sustainable practices, from their use of the most earth-friendly fabrics possible, to making sure their clothing is made under safe working conditions, all the way down to their use of compostable packaging.

Colorful Standard (Best for relaxed fit organic shorts)

Price range: $72
My pick: Organic Twill Shorts in Purple Haze

Colorful Standard has the ideal eco-friendly shorts that are suitable for every day. They can be used for a workout, for hauling kids around, or pretty much doing anything else throughout your spring and summer.

They come in various colors, some that are vibrant and some that have more neutral tones. They’re made ethically in Portugal out of organic cotton and environmentally friendly dyes.

Colorful Standard also plants a tree for every order that is placed, creating a more positive impact on the environment.

Linen Handmade Studio (Best for linen shorts)

Price range: $68-96
My pick: Sydney high waist linen shorts in white

Are these linen shorts not gorgeous?! They come in a wide range of different styles and colors, whether you’re looking for something longer or shorter, dressy or more casual, flowy or tighter.

Each pair is handmade in Lithuania out of OEKO-TEX certified natural and breathable linen.

And if you’re looking for linen shorts for men, check out Magic Linen.

So there you have it: my favorite brands for cool and comfortable summer shorts made out of healthy and eco-friendly materials like certified organic cotton, linen, and hemp.

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About Guest Author

This article was written by a guest contributor. We love to welcome content written by fellow writers, researchers, and advocates for safer products!

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