15 Best Sustainable Footwear Brands 2022
If you’re striving to be more conscious about your fashion choices, a good place to start is shoes. The best sustainable shoe brands offer everything from everyday white sneakers and comfortable flats to casual boots and evening heels, all carefully crafted with eco-friendly materials.
As with green fashion brands (and all sustainable products, really), it starts with learning more about the company and its practices. When it comes to footwear, expect sustainable materials such as sourced and responsibly processed leather, organic cotton canvas, and recycled plastic. Keep an eye out for materials derived from plants, sugarcane, and even fruit that are as impressive and innovative as they are eco-friendly and low-impact. Materials can be at the forefront of what makes a shoe durable, but if you buy quality, ethically produced items and treat them with care (get beloved shoes resoled to extend their life life), they will serve you for many years to come. To get started, take a step in the right direction with our picks for the most sustainable shoe brands you need to know about right now, from affordable picks to splurge-worthy finds.
- Best for sneakers: all the birds
- Ideal for heels: Area
- Ideal for sandals: Suits you
- Ideal for apartments: Rothy’s
- Ideal for boots: nisolo
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Allbirds started with a merino wool sneaker inspired by the co-founder’s New Zealand roots, and has since evolved into a sustainable lifestyle brand with a loyal following. However, the shoes are still the main draw: there are minimally designed lace-up or slip-on shoes for everyday, running and travel. In addition to ethically sourced wool and recycled plastic, renewable (and innovative!)
If you want to add this line of I do not know what to your wardrobe (and who doesn’t?), check out Veja. The sneakers are both colorful and classic, and go with everything from jeans to dresses. Created in 2005, the French shoe brand has always been concerned about the environment and today uses a wide range of innovative materials such as recycled plastic and cotton (purchased at fair trade in South America), wild rubber from the Amazon, chrome-free leather, sugar cane, and even rice waste – there’s also a vegan selection. Additionally, all sneakers are ethically made in Brazil by workers who receive fair wages.
With old-school appeal and a modern twist, Cariuma offers versatile kicks made with eco-friendly materials. The signature canvas low-top shoe features an organic cotton upper, organic cork and memory foam insole, natural rubber bottom and recycled plastic accents. And, for every pair purchased, the company will plant two trees in the founders’ native Brazil to fight deforestation.
Adidas by Stella McCartney
Fashion designer Stella McCartney is known for her eco-conscious luxury collection, but for a more accessible way to get into her designs, try her performance styles for Adidas. The sleek and cool sneakers are focused on sustainable materials such as Parley Ocean plastic, recycled polyester and partially recycled EVA midsoles.
Instantly recognizable by the woven design and blue heel trim, Rothy’s flats are knitted with yarn derived from plastic bottles, reducing production waste and making them flexible and comfortable to wear all day (in fact, the brand claims there’s no break-in period required). Other renewable materials used in the various components of the shoe include seaweed, castor bean and hemp. Plus, the shoes are machine washable, keeping them looking brand new for years to come.
Looking for eco-friendly yet stylish heels? Aera is the first luxury footwear brand to achieve B-Corp certified status. The chic sandals and heels are made in Italy with vegan materials that replicate the look of leather. In addition to recycled plastics and other environmentally friendly materials, it are synthetics used, the brand recognizes this by offsetting its environmental impact by 110% through reforestation and water restoration certifications.
As a heritage brand inspired by life on the water, it makes sense that Sperry wants to support and protect the oceans. In an effort to do this, the SeaCycled capsule reimagines classic silhouettes like the boat shoe and sneaker mules in recycled materials and reclaimed leather.
Flip flops tend to be fairly disposable, but Oka-B offers spa-like versions that are built to last and be recyclable. Their sandals are not only comfortable thanks to the arch support and massaging sole, but they are also made with a mix of recycled and bio-based materials. To come full circle, when you’re done with your pair, send it back to the Georgia factory for reuse – the entire collection is made in the USA to reduce shipping emissions.
Did you know that the iconic straps of Teva sandals are now all made from recycled polyester? Through this initiative, the company has been able to divert more than 40 million plastic bottles from landfills and waterways. When your pair are ready to retire from a life of adventure, send them back to the company, which partners with TerraCycle to reuse them in playgrounds, tracks, etc.
If you are looking for quality, ethically made leather sandals and boots, be sure to check out Nisolo. The Nashville-based company prioritizes social impact and living wages (which it verifies with third-party auditors) for its own factory workers and those of its partners, while also committing to reduce and offset 100% of its carbon emissions. In addition, each product comes with a “sustainability facts label”, inspired by a nutrition label found on food products, with data points on the environmental and human impact of your purchase.
Keds’ iconic Little Canvas Champion sneaker is now also available in organic cotton, which is kinder to the environment and farmers than conventional cotton. It still offers the same comfort and preppy style as the original, so why not upgrade?
You might know Toms for its casual slip-on shoes and the pioneering one-for-one model it was founded on (for every pair of shoes sold, the company donated them to someone in need). It has since turned to donating a third of its profits to local organizations, while doubling down on its sustainability efforts. The growing Earthwise range uses organic cotton, regenerated materials and eco-friendly fibers such as hemp and linen in the various shoe components. Hang on to a pair of canvas espadrilles or recycled jersey slides just in time for sunny days.
Spanish sneaker brand Saye embraces eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton, recycled plastics regenerated from the automotive industry, bamboo and even fibers derived from cactus and mango for vegan leather (yes , really). Plus, the company will plant a pair of trees for every pair sold, so you’ll feel great about these retro-inspired designs.
Calling all outdoor enthusiasts: Thesus offers sustainable (and vegan!) hiking shoes, rain boots and clogs made with over 95% natural and recycled materials, including natural rubber soles and laces made from recycled plastic bottles.
As alumni of luxury French brands such as Chloé and Dior, the founders of Nomasei know what makes great shoes, but they’re also aware of how wasteful it can be. The brand is committed to maintaining the production stages in the Tuscany region and uses metal-free leather, recycled zippers, bio-based plastic soles and recycled materials. With their consciously crafted collection of timeless styles like boots and loafers, you can invest knowing they’ll stand up to wayward trends (you can also see a transparent price breakdown of each pair on the product page).
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