Shoes are a necessary product for our everyday lives (or at least for most of us…no judgment here!). And not only are they needed, they are also a notably fun aspect of our apparel! Don’t tell me that I’m the only one that gets giddy over a new pair of sneakers! Our footwear has the power to change the dynamic of an entire outfit. And as I’m sure you all know, great power comes with great responsibility.
The brand Allbirds (number 3 on our list) gives an excellent rundown for why they care–and why we should, too!– about sustainability:
“Roughly 57% of footwear and 64% of apparel is made from synthetic materials. The problem with synthetic materials? They’re made from plastics. Plastics come from oil. And oil is a fossil fuel that’s accelerating climate change. What’s even weirder about the link between fashion and fossil fuels is that these materials weren’t widely used in our industry until the 1980s. But we’ve quickly become dependent on them. The reliance on fossil fuels is accelerating climate change, creating negative impacts on waste, biodiversity, and more. Which is why we need to transition back to renewable, natural materials.”
With this as our reality, a widely collaborative, intentional, and integrous effort must be made to progress our environmental reconciliation and improve the standards of the fashion industry. Below is a list of 18 of the best sustainable shoe(+) brands to do so!
Price Range: $15-$250
Nisolo is an ethical brand with respectable values and perspective regarding sustainability, people & planet promotion, and transparency. Among their wide variety of men’s and women’s shoes, they also offer jewelry, bags, wallets, and other accessories. Nisolo uses responsibly-sourced leather, hides, and upcycled raw materials to create their beautiful products, and they are active in fair trade.
Price Range: $100-$290
VEJA is a sustainable footwear brand sourced from South American workers and materials. The brand offers an array of sneakers and running shoes for men, women, and children, along with a selection of vegan shoes. They use organic cotton, rubber, and various materials made from recycled plastic or polyester. VEJA holds themselves to very high standards of integrity and accountability, which in turn produces positive effects for their workers and each level of their processes.
Shipping: US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, China, South Korea, Japan, Europe & the UK
Price Range: $12-$160
Allbirds is a sustainable brand ranging from apparel and accessories to footwear in a variety of styles. They work intentionally to use materials with ethical sourcing, including their own innovations to create alternative options when necessary. Their materials can be broken down as 75% sustainably sourced natural and recycled materials, another example being via plant-based leather.
Shipping: US & Canada
Price Range: $125-$245
Rothy’s is a sustainable brand vending an array of shoes, bags & accessories, and more for women, men, and children. The brand operates with the core value and goal that “the future is circular,” meaning that nature and products should be a continuous loop that renews itself at every stage. Their primary mainstays are products with purpose, principled production, and people & planet promotion. Rothy’s also mindfully works to utilize twice-recycled materials in new products– the majority being ocean-bound marine plastic & bottles.
Shipping: US & Canada
Price Range: $6-$130
Thousand Fell is an ethical footwear brand curated for both men and women. Using bio-leather fabric, corn waste, coconut husk, recycled bottles and yoga mats, natural quartz, et cetera, this brand has worked to create the first fully recyclable sneaker. As an incentive, Thousand Fell also advertises a payment of $20 to YOU for sending your done-for sneakers back to them (complementarily) for recycling. How could you go wrong there?
Price Range: $79-$159
Cariuma is a sustainable brand of footwear– more specifically, sneakers– for both men and women. Based in Brazil, the company makes ethically-sourced sneakers described as “good-looking, crazy comfy, and consciously made.”
Shipping: US, Canada, & 30+ other countries
Price Range: $16-$220
Thesus is an environmentally progressive footwear brand, selling an array of boots and a signature clog-style shoe, “the Terrus.” The Canadian, BIPOC woman-owned, & women-led brand also offers a selection of shoe accessories, such as laces and footbeds. Their guiding principles are connection, commitment, and good + simplistic designs, along with core values of diversity, inclusion, and transparency. Thesus is actively working to achieve the goal of 100% use of natural and recycled materials, while being Climate Positive, by the end of 2022.
Price Range: $100-$820
Nomasei is an ethical brand of luxury footwear (including bridal pieces) and fine jewelry, all designed by women for women. Based in Italy, this integrous and frugal brand uses global organic textiles, metal-free leather, recycled & upcycled materials, and so on in order to minimize their carbon emissions and be a Low Carbon company.
Shipping: US, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, & the Netherlands (via the corresponding international Toms websites)
Price Range: $7.95-$149.95
TOMS, the brand that featured one of the most beloved shoes of the early 2010s, is a sustainable line of footwear, apparel, and accessories for men, women, and children. In terms of shoes, they offer alpargatas, sneakers, slip-ons, fenix, boots, dress shoes, espadrilles, heels & wedges, sandals, platforms, and flats. The brand invests a third of their profits for grassroots good, along with funds to facilitate access to mental health resources for millions of people who need them. They are fueled by their values of diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, community impact, the improvement of lives, and transparency.
Shipping: US & Canada
Price Range: $9.99-$149.99
Grounded People is a 100% vegan and cruelty-free line of unisex sneakers, resembling a Converse-Vans-Keds-style design, if you know what I mean. Based in Canada and made in Brazil, this brand is active in fair trade, utilizes a variety of high quality and ethically-sourced materials, and works to offset carbon via programs resulting in large quantities of tree-planting.
Price Range: $19-$110
Native is a sustainable brand of footwear that offers a wide variety of styles for men, women, and children. They currently have a Disney-inspired collection available! They work under the mantra of “Live Lightly” to facilitate the creation of lighter, healthier, and happier experiences for all. They execute this by promoting a reduction in climate impact and positive impact for people and the planet.
Shipping: US & many others
Price Range: $98-$428
Reformation, a Los Angeles-based, Climate Neutral certified brand of apparel, offers an extensive range of footwear and clothing styles and designs. With everything from activewear to wedding garments, to sneakers, boots, and heels, this versatile brand could be the source of an entire outfit for any occasion. Cute and eco-friendly!
Price Range: $35-$50
Oka-B, based in Georgia, is a line of made-to-order, vegan bio-based footwear and accessories, which enables a reduction of the brand’s environmental impact. You can shop by shoe styles– ballet flats, flip flops, sandals & slides, and spa sandals– themes, footbeds, and color. Their fun collections are both sustainable and affordable!
Price Range: $245-$350
Ma'am is a Los Angeles-based brand selling responsibly-made flat sandals, boots, and heels, made by women for the empowerment of women. Characterized by their eco-friendliness and durability, Ma’am’s shoes are curated for comfort and sustainability while still exhibiting unique and classy designs.
Price Range: $39.95-$119.95
Saola, an environmentally-conscious footwear brand’s products consist of tennis shoes, everyday shoes, and flip flops for both men and women. The brand uses recycled plastic bottles, algae foam, organic cotton, and natural cork to create each pair of shoes.
Price Range: $80-$599
St. Agni is a sustainable brand offering extensive selections of clothing, footwear, accessories, and more. As they work to create quality and timeless pieces with ethical materials, St. Agni simultaneously works for the promotion of fair trade and care for their supply chain at all stages, their progress, and their empowerment.
Shipping: US & Canada
Price Range: $40-$125
ABLE is an all-encompassing, ethically-produced brand of high quality apparel, shoes, jewelry, and leather bags & wallets. This brand has invited transparency and accountability at every level of their business as they acknowledge their responsibility and commitment to purposeful practices. ABLE also promotes body inclusivity and offers conveniences such as lifetime guarantees, size swaps, and home try-ons.
Price Range: $28-$195
Everlane is a mindful and inclusive brand of extensive arrays of shoes, tops, denim, pants, shorts, dresses & jumpsuits, outerwear, activewear, swimwear, and bags– all of which are sustainably made. Driven by exceptional quality, ethical practices, and Radical Transparency, the brand openly offers a breakdown of their costs and price comparisons, along with an Annual Impact Report. Additionally, Everlane has committed to persistently working to reduce their carbon emissions, and in turn, shrinking their carbon footprint.
These 18 sustainable shoe brands are effective and active forces pushing for environmental change and ethical standards– and they’re not the only ones! To consciously shop is to intentionally seek out similarly sustainable and responsibly-sourced products, from brands that care about both people and planet. An acclimation to such behavior will prove to be truly world-altering in every way. Take the first step towards proactive footwear to shrink your carbon footprint (all puns intended). It starts with you!