Technology has enabled sustainable shoes and their manufacture to evolve quickly. It’s also enabled brands to provide significantly better transparency.
We’ve researched various sustainable shoe brands to help you make the best choice.
Veja stands out when it comes to customer transparency. They publish a year long study into their co2 emissions and contracts with suppliers. They are also committed to sustainable manufacturing processes.
Keep reading for our roundup of the best sustainable shoes.
Best sustainable shoes
Sustainability: B Corp Certified and serious about transparency
Product type: Adult and kids sneakers
Not only are Veja B corp certified they are serious about customer transparency. They conducted a study into their emissions. They can tell you accurate co2 emissions for individual products. Also published are contracts with suppliers. You could easily spend hours reviewing all the sustainability data they provide. They use organic cotton and upcycled plastic. Rubber is bought directly from cooperatives. Cooperatives are formed of people who have tapped rubber for generations. They are paid a fair wage and tap rubber responsibly without destroying the forest. Their leather is not chrome tanned, limiting toxic waste dumped in water. They also have vegan alternatives. A pair of V10 B mesh style sneakers are classic and will go with most outfits with a carbon footprint of 16.6 kg
Sustainability: B Corp Certified with clear sustainable policies. Aim to become climate positive.
Product type: Adult sneakers and flats
Allbirds are another B Corp Certified brand. Allbirds provide clear sustainable policies for you. They hold themselves accountable. Carbon footprints for their shoes are detailed on their website. They also want to become climate positive. Their sneakers are made from merino wool and sweet foam made from sustainable sugarcane. They use recycled materials and are certified by the forest stewardship council which protects forests. Because they are made from wool they are also very flexible and comfortable. I bought a pair over 2 years ago that are still going strong and look almost new.
Sustainability: B Corp Certified, want to reconnect people and the planet
Product type: Adult and kids outdoor shoes and sneakers
Vivobarefoot consider themselves a ‘regenerative’ business. In their words this means they want to have ‘a net positive impact on people and planet by formalising and operationalising sustainability culture, policy, and process’. Vivobarefoot set out clear sustainable goals that they want to meet. One of which is to have a net negative carbon footprint in 2021. They have set up Livebarefoot foundation to fund projects based on regeneration. And from 2020 they set up Revivo to keep their shoes out of landfill. In manufacturing they use recycled, upcycled or salvaged materials where possible. To find out more read their 6 page environmental policy.
Sustainability: B Corp Certified with lots of vegan options
Product type: Adult sneakers
Cariuma’s focus is on sustainable comfort. They have a long list of certified materials. Most notably from the leather working group (LWG). LWG environmentally certifies leather within the manufacturing process. For every pair of shoes sold they plant a pair of trees and have started their own reforestation program. Gently worn and returned sneakers are donated to soles4souls.
Sustainability: B corp certified, with ⅓ of profits for grass roots good
Product type: Adult and kids sneakers, flats, sandals and espadrilles
Toms strongly believe in equity, one of the true starting points of sustainability. Equity enables people with essential resources to survive. Read more about Toms impact from their impact report. While their manufacturing processes are not as sustainable as some other brands. Toms are committed to expanding their sustainable practices over the next 4 years. They are also committed to reporting their progress annually for you to see.
Sustainability: Ambitiously state they aim to have circular production and be carbon neutral by 2023
Product type: Womens and kids sneakers, flats, sandals and boots
Rothys say their products are designed to last and machine washable. Made from recycled materials such as plastic and rubber. Waste is minimised vs normal production processes. In 2021 they launched a recycling program. By 2022 they aim to incorporate twice recycled materials and a zero waste certificate for their factory.
Sustainability: Closed loop, they recycle their sneakers.
Product type: Adult sneakers
Thousandfell sneakers are designed to be recycled. Anything not recycled can be composted. Treated leather is not used as it is not biodegradable. Recycled materials are used where possible. They are a member of 1% for the planet donating 1% of sales to environmental causes.
Sustainability: Supports sustainable opportunities for women
Product type: Womens sneakers, flats, sandals and boots
Able is 95% staffed by women and they aim to empower women by paying fair wages to help lift them out of poverty. They publish wages to give you a “clear choice to protect the people making your products”. Their leather is a by product from the meat industry and scraps are used to make other products. Their tanneries recycle and purify their water.
Sustainability: 90% of materials sustainable and traceable
Product type: Womens rain boots and outdoor shoes
Alice + Whittles have a vegan range and all their footwear is virgin plastic free. Their rubber is sourced from sustainably managed forests. They build long term relationships with suppliers. Environmental standards, fair pay and the position of women are part of their decision making process.
Sustainability: Value quality, craftsmanship and artesanal touches
Product type: Womens boots, mules, flats, sandals, heels and sneakers
Matisse uses family owned factories that are socially audited. They use recycled materials where possible. They endeavour to source sustainable materials. And use nominated tanneries that work to be cleaner and greener.
Sustainable shoe buying guide
Things to consider when purchasing sustainable shoes.
Is the brand B corp certified?
How transparent is the brand with its sustainability credentials? Do they publish measurable targets?
Where do they manufacture? What materials do they use and are they sustainable or recycled?
How do they transport products and what packaging do they use?
Do they look good and will they last a long time? Do they have an end of life cycle?
Leather can be the largest part of a shoe’s carbon footprint. Is the leather manufacture process certified?
Having researched various sustainable shoe brands, you can’t go wrong with Veja, Allbirds and Vivobarefoot. They are all serious about sustainability and make a lot of measurable information available to you. This will help you decide how sustainable they really are.
We hope this article helps you choose your next pair of sustainable shoes.
To find out more about easy sustainable living tips click here.