When it comes to footwear, sustainability is a critical area to look for since there are a number of different components and materials used to make shoes. This is why it is essential to know who makes them, what material they are made from and if you can wear them for how long you can wear them.
Although there is nothing like perfect sustainable shoes, just like with everything, some brands are working tirelessly to improve the sustainability of the shoes. What makes a brand sustainable are features like less pollution and waste, fair trade and transparency in the supply chain.
Looking for a pair of sustainable or eco-friendly shoes? The guide below will help you find some of the best shoe brands in the market today that make sustainable and stylish shoes. All the sneakers in the list below are comfortable to wear and can also handle a wide range of activities. Read on to find the best sustainable shoe.
5 Best Sustainable Shoes
1. Vessi Everyday Shoes
Vessi is a growing shoe brand established a few years ago, thanks to its reputation of being the most comfortable shoe brands. Although the textile industry is one of the biggest contributors to water pollution, Vessi is committed to change this by using a more sustainable approach. The brand also uses a patented waterproof technology that gives the highest performance and is able to withstand different conditions throughout the year.
Vessi everyday shoes also feature a patented Dyma-tex membrane that has been woven into the knitting. The fabric also features engineered material for extra stretch, moisture-wicking properties, antibacterial insoles, and a non-slip Herringbone grip. They do not use any animal material in their products and can also leave a low carbon footprint in the production process.
These everyday shoes by Vessi give a simple and clean look that comfortably fits around the ankles. They feature a quick slip off and slip-on design that makes them perfect pairs of shoes for outdoors as well as indoors. With these shoes, you're assured of extra comfort and stretch. They also feature a breathable mesh for airy comfort, making you feel light.
- Uses a patented waterproof technology that can withstand harsh weather conditions
- All sneakers are easy to clean
- Ships for free to the selected countries
- Uses a sustainable manufacturing process
- Accepts quad pay payment plans which means 4x bi-weekly with interest-free instalments
- Global accessibility since they are exclusively online
- They come in three trendy and district styles
- Shipping is limited to selected countries
- Quadpay payment is currently available to US customers only.
2. AllBirds Eco-Friendly Shoes
All Birds is a sustainable sneaker brand that is a brand based in San Francisco. They are Certified B Corp, which acts as proof of their sustainability efforts. Allbird sneakers are made from sustainable and eco-friendly material such as recycled plastic bottles, merino wool, sugarcane and Tencel with recycled and bio-based components.
The uppers of the shies are made from eucalyptus trees, and the contoured insoles made from castor beans. Allbirds was the first company to create a carbon-negative green EVA foam midsole that helps eliminate the harmful petrochemicals found in traditional designs.
The most popular sustainable shoes from the Allbirds brand are running shoes. If that's not enough, this company also tops it off by donating the returned and used Allbirds shoes to communities that require them all over the world.
- Very comfortable with a soft sole
- Easy to style with a casual outfit
- Super lightweight
- Eco friendly
- Doesn't smell
- Machine washable and dries out quickly
- Money-back guarantee
- No half sizes
- The shoebox may deflate over time
3. Veja Sneakers
If you're looking for street shoes, then you should consider getting the Veja sneakers as our third best option in the market today. The Veja brand purchases environmentally friendly and organic materials from fair trade farms in Brazil and Amazon. They also partner with a social charity that assists disadvantaged people in society.
The good thing about Veja is that you can buy a pair of their shoes no matter where you live. This is because the brands offer worldwide shipping and package the products using recyclable cardboard to have a positive environmental impact. Their sneakers are both in leather and vegan leather and some organic cotton canvas and recycled plastic options.
These shoes can easily be recognised because of the V logo. They create a wide range of vegan shoes that are ethical, sustainable and stylish too. Most of their vegan options have a minimalistic design, and all the materials used are sourced in a responsible way. This company also ships their products internationally.
- Stylish and trendy design
- Socially responsible and environmentally friendly
- Great price point
- Lots of colour options
- Made from organic cotton
- Super comfortable
- They might run big and may need a size down
- Stiff and may easily crease with wear
4. Vessi's Cityscape Sneakers
The Cityscape sneakers from Vessi's brand of waterproof shoes is another one of the best eco-friendly shoes. As mentioned above, Vessi is one of the most reputable shoe brands when it comes to vegan shoes, among other environmental friendly shoes. These shoes feature a minimalistic and stylish design that stands out and is perfect to match with any attire.
They are very lightweight, which means that they can be used for work or leisure and are comfortable to wear every day. Although these shoes offer less traction than other styles of vegan shoes, they are still known for being breathable, stretchy, lightweight and have great waterproof features.
The Vessi Cityscape footwear is excellent for everyday wear. The top layer feature a nano filtering membrane and a stretch knit layer to prevent debris and moisture from getting in. They come in four colour options. Moreover, they currently ship the shoes to selected countries that include Australia, the US, Canada, Japan, etc. The cityscape sneakers are thought out on every production step.
- Light and Flexible
- Eco friendly and ethical shoe
- Comfortable and stylish
- Easy to clean
- Free shipping to selected countries
- Waterproof technology for harsh weather conditions
- Less traction
- Aren't the best for ice
5. Alice + Whittles Sustainable Shoes
This company is based in Toronto, Canada, and is known for making fashionable footwear and uses one of the world's thoughtful supply chains. The Alice + Whittles brand are best known for their waterproof rain boots. These rain boots are crafted by small scale producers and artisans using natural and fair-trade rubber.
They sell a range of minimalist ankle boots and a riding boot that have black or white soles, metallic plating as well as a number of colour options to chose from. They are easy to pull on and very comfortable to walk on. The metallic loops and hardware at the backside of the boots add a great detail that makes them look stylish and sleek.
Furthermore, they feature an ethical manufacturing system that gets their natural materials from FSC certifies rainforests in Sri Lanka. They also provide their workers with fair wages and also assume complete responsibility for the supply chain. Even though the boots timeless and minimalists, there is a thoughtful process lying beneath them, making them more interesting than regular boots.
- Comfortable with its flat squishy sole
- Stylish and sleek design
- Fitted and not floppy like leather shoes
- Made from 100% natural rubber
- FSC certified
- Not ideal for high arches or wide feet, and you may need to go a size up
- Not well-cushioned for a whole day of dedicated walking
Factors to Consider When Looking For Eco-Friendly Shoes
When looking for a sustainable shoe, the most critical factor to consider is the materials used in making them. Ideally, the brands should make an amazing pair of eco-friendly shoes from recycled materials. Some of the materials used to make sustainable shoes include natural fabrics such as linen and hemp, recycled rubber and plastic components and aesthetically sourced leather and wood.
The recommended materials are the ones taken from renewable sources. Shoes made from recycled materials like recycled water bottles prevent toxic wastes from getting to the oceans and landfills. These shoes also require less energy and water during the production process. However, most people are currently switching to vegan-friendly materials to keep up with animal-friendly living. Always check the labels to ensure the shoes are made from recycled materials.
Just like any other shoe, a sustainable shoe should be durable, such that it lasts for a longer period of time. You might find some shoes will only last you for a few weeks of wear, which shouldn't be the case. Most shoes are made from synthetic compounds, which means they take a longer time to decompose. The soles of some shoes may take up to 1000 years to completely decompose.
It is important to get a pair of shoes that is durable and will last longer so that you won't have to replace them constantly. By doing this, less toxic and waste materials are produced. Ideally, some should choose well-made shoes from sustainable driven companies, which can withstand all weather conditions, including harsh weather conditions.
3. Fair Trade Practices
Ethical practices have become one of the buyer's pre-purchase checklists to ensure that they can confidently wear an ethical shoe without feeling guilty that someone went through pain and trouble during making them. It is recommended to buy shoes from brands that follow all fair trade practices in different phases and steps of manufacturing shoes.
Fair trade practices consist of not involving themselves in exploitative labour practices, supporting the community and local business, and providing decent working conditions. Several reports have shown that there are workers experiencing exploitation in poor working conditions and are being paid meagre wages. Find companies that provide their workers with great working conditions and fair wages so that you don't suffer the guilt of buying shoes made by slave labour.
As much as it is important to get shoes made from sustainable materials, it is crucial also to consider the comfortability of the shoes. Some shoes made from natural materials are poorly constructed such that you don't get the comfort you need.
The price is another important factor that you should have in mind. Different shoes from different brands have different prices depending on the material the brand uses, styles, among other factors. Find a shoe that matches your budget.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Sustainable Footwear
1. What is sustainable footwear?
Sustainable footwear is shoes made from using natural and recycled materials, and they involve an environmentally friendly manufacturing process. These type of shoes are known to contribute positively to environmental conservation. Due to the use of recycled materials, they minimise the toxic waste and use less water in the manufacturing process.
Most of these shoes are not made from animal products which means they don't involve animal killing. A number of brands are now venturing into making sustainable footwear so that they can contribute to environmental conservation. A brand that is also driven by an eco-friendly conscience has a better chance of being recognised and also ensures brand building in a competitive market.
2. What Shoe Brands sell eco-friendly shoes?
There are many brands that sell eco-friendly shoes, including vegan heels, leather shoes, sneakers, boots, etc., all made from eco-friendly materials. A recommended and famous brand would be Vessi.com. They sell different styles of shoes made from recycled and natural materials.
3. Are Vans shoes eco-friendly?
Although Van shoes are making a little progress in making a sustainable shoe, their environmental rating is still not good enough. The brand uses a few natural materials in their products, and they haven't minimised the textile waste or packaging.