Five Picks for Eco-Friendly Socks

socks hanging on a washline

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"The Sockfather" is a silly spoof underscoring why eco-socks are better.

Why has it been incredibly easy to buy organic t-shirts and yet so relatively difficult to find a good, affordable selection of organic and/or eco-friendly socks? Socks are as necessary as t-shirts, but possibly harder to sell - people buy t-shirts even when they don't need them, hoping to find that love-it, live-in-it, tee. Socks, however, well, nobody goes out sock shopping unless they really need a new pair, like...right now.

And hopping out to the mall isn't really the best place to find eco-friendly socks. It is one of those areas where the Internet thrives in delivering a better selection of eco-goods than brick and mortar stores. Read on to see our top five sock tips.

1. Maggie's Organics

Maggie's has definitely left behind its basic color palette and now offers lots of different sock styles, colors and sizes to choose from - athletic socks for kids, dress socks for men, yeah! Maggie's is still going for basic design and functionality, and while the prices aren't bargain basement, they are decent - and the big selection at the "on sale" page is definitely something to come back to. Maggie's has been doing organic socks for more than a decade, has helped form the Fair Trade Zone in Nicaragua, and has even started a cooperative in North Carolina to make sock monkeys and other goods from sock scraps.

2. Devmir

North Carolina sock manufacturer Devmir has just been chosen by the Sierra Club to make organic socks for the holidays - with purchases also helping the homeless. Sierra Club says these socks are a gift you can give to anybody. Devmir offers a good range of styles in organic cotton, bamboo, and "recycled synthetics." The socks range in price from $5 to $18. The styles are functional and basic (bamboo-fabric shorties are a favorite) which is good. Nothing for kids - not so good. With each pair purchased for this holiday season, however, another pair will go to the National Coalition for the Homeless, plus 10% to the Sierra Club. Devmir/Sierra Club hopes to donate one million pairs of socks during this "sock-a-thon."

UPDATE: As of 2011, Sierra Club is now working with Parker Legwear for their socks.

3. g=9.8

French designer Sophie Young is going for sexy rather than strictly functional with her line of socks and stockings. Young is using a fiber called Lenpur created by weaving cellulose from tree waste with enzymes, which the company says gives it great softness and absorption capacity, along with deodorizing qualities. Lenpur socks are not organic, and they have added polyamide and Spandex, but they do get the Ökotex certification for environmental production. g=9.8's ankle socks are $12, knee highs are $14, and sexy thigh highs are $24. Pretty, and silky to the touch (the g=9.8 refers to the amount of water used in the production of the socks). Fancy prices for fancy socks, so not a winner for everyday. Find the full array of g=9.8's socks at online store Nimli.

2. Rawganique

Rawganique's basic vegan hemp/organic cotton socks are made from certified organic European hemp and they are...well, basic. They come in just two sizes and cost $10 per pair. The hemp/cotton blend socks are soft and plush, but the company recommends they be line dried in order to avoid excessive pilling from the hemp fibers. also makes hemp and flax blend socks for $16-$18 per pair which contain no elastic, and perhaps won't stay up as well, but will fall down your ankles in beautiful multi-colored ripples. Perfect for the purist or perfectionist on your sock list. 's socks are gorgeous and special, but the prices push them into the luxury category and just out of reach of the 'buy as many as you need' category. Still, if you are hooked on hemp, you can match up your socks with shirts, pants, skirts, shower curtains and towels.

5. Teko Socks

Teko socks, made from merino wool, organic cotton and recycled polyester, claim to be some of the best on the planet, and the best for the planet. The one pair of Teko's I have are not favorites but they have lasted through quite a variety of laundry room brutality, which is saying a lot. Available for men, and women only, and manufactured in North Carolina, Teko's designs are continually pushing the sock performance and technology envelope. And the prices reflect that, ranging from $10 to $20 per pair. While Teko socks may not be for the budget or bulk buyer, their prices are not necessarily higher than their non-enviromentally conscious performance sock competitors.