Sustainable Footwear for the Sustainable Shoe Lover

Updated: Aug 5

My fiance. Loves. Shoes. I can honestly say that if I wasn’t on this journey of sustainability and didn’t understand the importance of it, I would have so many more than I currently have. Shoes and accessories have such power in fashion. You can wear a simple outfit and completely elevate it or change it with shoes and accessories! Or vice versa and wear something dressy and make it comfy and casual! I am a firm believer that a good pair of shoes can change your life and define your style! My brown boots are definitely that shoe and if you’ve been following me from the start, you’ll know which ones. Just like any clothing, not all shoes are made sustainably! That’s why I’ve done the research for you and found a good amount of shoes with sustainable roots and even categorized them for you! Keep reading to find out the brands changing the game in this huge industry!


Casuals


Vivobarefoot

Vivobarefoot has many casual styles to choose from, all known for being lightweight. The brand prides themselves in making shoe wear that is thin, wide, and flexible that adhere to your foot’s natural design. Their shoes are made from a variety of materials such as leather, vegan leather, and even algae. Vivobarefoot shoes also come with a 100-day trial. Should you not be satisfied with your purchase, you’re guaranteed a full refund so long as it’s in the 100 day period!


Greats

I love a good chunky casual sneaker. If you’re looking for some Adidas look-alike check out Greats. Greats is a Brooklyn based brand that makes their shoes in an Italian factory. A disclaimer to those shopping this brand is that they do use Italian leather to make their shoes. Regardless of the material used, Greats still makes an effort to reduce their carbon footprint in their entire process!


Nothing New

Converse are a nice classic shoe to have because of the versatility of them! However, the original brand is not sustainable at the moment. Don’t fret though! These sneakers by Nothing New are super similar and they are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, cotton, rubber, and fishing nets. My favorite part is the insole which has that super comfortable Ortholite material! Want to learn more about how each part of the shoe is sustainable? Simply pick a style and scroll down on the web page to learn more!


Sperry

I remember when Sperry shoes were all the craze in middle and high school. I even owned a pair myself. However, once that pair basically bit the dust, I never re-purchased another pair because they weren’t made from sustainable materials. If you were in the same situation as myself and miss your pair, we’re in luck! Sperry recently developed an eco-friendly line of boat shoes called Sperry Bionic. The fabric of these shoes is made from plastic recovered from the ocean floor! Currently they only have availability in children’s sizes but keep an eye out for a re-stock in adult sizes!


Indosole

Thought you had to give up your favorite plastic thong sandals when your last pair broke during your sustainable journey? Think again! Indosole sells those in addition to your favorite slides but compared to the ones sold at retailers like Wal-Mart, these are much more sustainable since they’re made from tires! Before they’re able to reach the landfills in Indonesia, Indosole will work with local garage owners and develop the shoes using these tires.


Brave Soles

Brave Soles is a female owned brand that specializes in ethically produced casual leather sandals. Inspired by the heartbreaking amount of tires that were serving as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the diseases they bring, Christal (co-founder and CEO), set out to develop a pair of shoes that would use these upcycled tires. These are absolutely gorgeous Bohemian style sandals that are handcrafted individually by shoemakers in the Dominican Republic. They have a cushioned mid-sole and absolutely zero “breaking in” period.


Looking for other brands of casual shoes? Check out these brands too

Native Shoes (Men, Women, and Children)

Cariuma (Men and Women)

Ethletic (UK based, Unisex)


Athletics


SAOLA

This is one of my favorite athletic sneakers that I currently wear pretty frequently! They’re made from sustainable material such as recycled EVA outsoles, vegan leather upper fabric, and an insole made of natural cork and algae foam. An estimated 3-4 recycled plastic bottles goes into making this shoe! It also has a stretch knitted ankle cuff for that sock look and feel. SAOLA is a member of 1% for the Planet and they are partnered with MWALUA Wildlife Trust – an organization that promotes human-wildlife coexistence in Kenya.


Vessi

If you’re looking for a modern and sleek athletic shoe that’s also, wait for it… 100% WATERPROOF, check out Vessi! They have three different designs of athletic shoes such as an everyday sneaker, slip on, and an ultra-lightweight one. Vessi’s sustainability initiative is seen through their efforts to minimize their carbon footprint. This is done by cutting traditional machine knit time from 45 minutes to only 7 minutes, effectively reducing their imprint by 600% and saving 800 gallons of water!



All of the Above & More


Everlane

Everlane is your one-stop-shop for clothing and shoes! They have a huge selection to choose from. For the sake of this post, we’re going to be focusing on their shoe selection which is vast! Choose from athletic shoes, flats, sandals, and even boots! One disclaimer is that a good portion of the shoes that appear to be leather on first look are actually made from 100% leather that is vegetable dyed. I can see this being a problem for some individuals who try to steer from leather goods and only purchase vegan leather. Regardless, the brand is very transparent about the process of obtaining their leather and how they construct the shoes that are made from it. All of their shoes have an additional section that gives this information and will even have a link to the specific factory in which the shoe is made! As mentioned, Everlane is very transparent about their factories which are widely dispersed around the world in countries such as Italy and the US. They pride themselves in having strong personal relationships with factory owners and conducting audits to ensure safe and ethical working conditions. They even have a Black Friday Fund Initiative where their profits to the employees at these factories.


Allbirds

Allbirds has tons of different shoe options from athletic, to slip-on, to ballet flats! Similar to their wide variety of shoe choices and colors, they have a vast array of sustainability initiatives in their products. All of their shoelaces are made from recycled plastic bottles. Their shoes made from wool are sustainably harvested and they are partnered with ZQ Merino to ensure their wool meets the highest standards of farming and waste management. They also have shoes made from TENCEL Lyocell, a fiber sourced from trees. Bio mass extracted from sugar cane is used to develop their SweetFoam shoe sole which gives it that nice, comfy, and bouncy feel! They also developed their own knit fabrics from renewable Tree and Merino! These shoes are all around sustainable and you cannot go wrong with any of the color choices and shoe styles!


Rothy’s

Rothy’s is another sustainable brand with so many shoe style options to choose from. What I love about Rothy’s is that all of their shoes can be dressed up or down, especially their loafers and flats! Rothy’s shoes are fully sustainable from production location to shipping! The signature thread of all their shoes is made from recycled plastic bottles, the merino wool used in the shoes is humanely harvested in Australia before its craftsmanship at a sustainable Italian mill. Since the shoes are knitted to the shape of the shoe rather than from a larger piece of fabric, it allows for a huge reduction in material waste! My favorite sustainability initiative of the brand is definitely their packaging and shipping. They never ship the product to you in a box-in-box fashion! The shoe boxes are already durable enough to ship on their own, all of the cardboard inserts are fully degradable, and the signature blue ribbon sealing the box is also recyclable!


Nisolo

Nisolo carries a wide range of footwear such as beautiful flats, boots, sandals, loafers, etc. As a disclaimer, Nisolo uses leather goods to develop their footwear. However, they are very transparent on the process of how they acquire the leather they use! After doing my research on their site and speaking with a representative of the brand, I learned how all of their leather is a by product of the meat industry and is ethically sourced and obtained. They source from Leather Working Goods certified tanneries, use vegetable tanning, and invest in forest conservation to offset the greenhouse gas emissions of every product we produce. They are also currently in the process of mapping their entire supply chain down to the farm level to ensure the best sustainable practices are being used and shared with stakeholders and buyers. Check out their Impact Report for more information on their brand and methods!


Looking for other brands that sell different varieties of footwear? Check out these below:

Earth Shoes (Women only)

Reformation (Women only)

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