Sustainable desalination can be achieved by adopting renewable energy-based low-cost and low-impact desalting techniques. In this investigation, capability of inclined felt sheet solar distiller in desalting seawater is assessed by evaluating its performance, distillate water quality, economics, and environmental impacts. The distiller with 1.18-m2 aperture area produced around 4.60 L/day of distillate for a cumulative incident solar radiation intensity of about 20.52 MJ/m2 day. Its pollutant removal efficiency is very much superior to other available solar stills reported in literatures. Thermal model developed for estimating distiller’s performance is able to predict its productivity with reasonable accuracy (only 8.0% deviation from experimental values) and was used for estimating distiller’s performance in various seashore locations in India with varying clear days (191 to 246). Yearly mean distillate production and thermal and exergy efficiencies of the proposed distiller range between 3.60 to 4.50 L/day, 36.45 to 42.39%, and 2.85 to 3.65%, respectively, in east seashore locations of India. Moreover, 18.46 tons of CO2, 132.72 kg of SO2, and 54.20 kg of NO emission can be mitigated by adopting the distiller for potable water production. Distillate production cost of inclined felt sheet solar distiller is in the range of 1.15 to 2.29 INR/L and highly depends on the interest rate at which the distiller is financed. Generation of reasonable quantity of high-quality potable water at low cost with huge environmental benefits makes proposed inclined felt sheet solar distiller a suitable option for quenching thirst in coastal and remote locations. © 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.