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Ultimate Guide to the Eco-friendly Hat


Hats in today’s market are made with a wide variety of materials, with some of the most common being cotton and polyester. However, these materials aren’t necessarily eco-friendly or sustainable. And with so much focus being on how to cut down on waste and create biodegradable products, it’s now the eco-friendly hat that is in high demand among consumers.

Table of Contents
What makes a hat eco-friendly?
Global market value of hats
5 eco-friendly hats to suit any wardrobe
The future of eco-friendly hats

What makes a hat eco-friendly?

What exactly is an eco-friendly hat? Unlike hats made of non-biodegradable materials, eco-friendly hats are created with natural or recycled materials such as hemp, organic cotton, and raffia. These will eventually break down and won’t cause any lasting damage to the environment. The materials used should create a hat that lasts for a long period and also maintains its shape even when worn on a regular basis.

Woman wearing red floppy hat against a light blue wall

Global market value of hats

The global hats market has seen a steady rise in sales over the past few years, as more consumers spend time outdoors either for leisure purposes or physical activities. The sudden changes in temperature in some parts of the world have also created a greater demand for warm headwear. On top of this, different styles of hats are being worn as part of a fashion statement, where they don’t necessarily need to serve a specific function other than to look good when combined with the rest of an outfit.

Hats have quickly become a must-have fashion accessory for both men and women, and people of all ages for that matter. In 2022, the global market value for headwear reached USD 20.8 billion. Between 2023 and 2028, that number is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.89%, with North America and Europe being two of the top buyers of hats.

Family of four walking through forest in winter wearing hats

5 eco-friendly hats to suit any wardrobe

The material used for an eco-friendly hat will depend on the need of the wearer and the climate. Whereas some materials are more suitable for winter weather to keep the wearer warm, others are lighter and used to block out the sun to keep the consumer cool. The top types of eco-friendly hats in today’s market include organic cotton and recycled beanies, recycled cotton baseball caps, hemp hats, recycled plastic hats, and organic raffia hats.

Organic cotton and recycled beanie

Cotton is one of the most widely used materials when it comes to beanie hats due to its low cost, ability to keep the head warm, and ease of washing without ruining the quality of the hat. Due to the high demand for cotton, many plantations use a number of harmful chemicals to speed up the growing process, but with organic cotton, this isn’t the case. Organic cotton is grown using an all-natural process which has a very low impact on the environment. Although the cost of organic cotton is slightly higher, many consumers would prefer to pay for it, which is why the organic cotton beanie is growing in popularity.

Another option for consumers is to purchase a recycled beanie which is produced using recycled acrylic and polyester. By using these recycled materials, the manufacturers are making less of an impact on the environment. They repurpose materials that are already there and would otherwise end up in a landfill. Both organic cotton beanies and recycled beanies are in high demand and are ones to keep an eye on in the future.

Selection of colorful cotton beanies hung up in shop

Recycled cotton baseball cap

The baseball cap is a year-round fashion accessory that’s worn by both men and women in all types of temperatures. It can be used as intended, for sports such as baseball, or for complementing a casual street look. The main design point of the baseball cap is to block out the sun, and with so many style options in today’s market, there are plenty of baseball caps for consumers to choose from.

One big change that this type of headwear has seen in recent years is the material being used. Recycled cotton baseball caps have started to make big waves in the industry, much the same way that organic beanies have. These baseball caps repurpose cotton that would have otherwise gone to waste and bring the material back to life in the form of a long-lasting product. In order to ensure that the entire cap is more sustainable than regular caps, even the dye is made using natural colorants instead of toxic materials.

Hemp hats

For consumers who are on the hunt for durable hats that are made of all-natural materials, hemp is the perfect example of an eco-friendly hat that’s got a lot of people talking. Hemp is one of the world’s oldest materials, and in recent years there’s been a resurgence in the usage of hemp across many industries, not just clothing and accessories. The lightweight material of hemp allows for ultimate comfort, and as one of the world’s strongest fibers, it’s resistant to mold and naturally blocks out ultraviolet light, which are some of the reasons hemp hats are in such high demand over other materials.

Hemp is a very versatile material, so there are almost endless possibilities when it comes to what style of hat can be produced. Some of the most popular today include the hemp baseball caps, hemp sun hats, and hemp bucket hats—all of them are perfect for hot summer days.

Hemp wide-brimmed hat next to glass of whiskey

Recycled plastic hats

One of the biggest trends today is reusing recycled plastic to create something totally new, as a way to cut down on waste and use materials that are already available. Hats may not be the first thing that comes to mind when a person thinks of recycled plastic, but more and more businesses are starting to sell these types of hats. Recycled plastic hats don’t just come in one specific style. Everything from baseball caps to running hats with logos on them to warm beanie hats is being made using recycled plastic.

Organic raffia hats

Summer hats are becoming more popular every year, as consumers look for hats that are not only going to block their head and face from the sun but also look stylish while they’re chilling on the beach or at an outdoor party. The organic raffia hat has increased in demand among consumers, as this type of material is stronger than a traditional straw hat thanks to the natural resin found in the leaves. Harvesting raffia is also considered a sustainable practice as it can continue to grow without harming the environment.

Raffia is often confused with straw, but its longevity, slight water resistance, and flexibility are what sets this material apart. Raffia is predominantly used for summer accessories, with Panama hats and floppy planter hats being two of the most common styles of hats on the market.

Raffia hat hung on wall next to matching tote bag

The future of eco-friendly hats

The world is turning more sustainable and eco-friendly by the day. Although change is progressive, the fashion accessories market is seeing a big upturn in demand for eco-friendly hats such as organic cotton and recycled beanies, recycled cotton baseball caps, hemp hats, recycled plastic hats, and organic raffia hats. As demand continues to increase, the market is expecting new and innovative materials to also reach hat productions. The market is already seeing this with the use of algae bloom in hats.

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