11 Innovative Shoes Made From Recycled Plastic | pebble magazine
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11 Shoes Made From Recycled Plastic To Get Excited About

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11 Shoes Made From Recycled Plastic To Get Excited About

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Want to support the fight against plastic pollution? One solution could be in your footwear.

Check out these 11 innovative shoes made from recycled plastic to get excited about.

Francesca Brooking

Thu 29 Jul 2021

Feeling bottled up about plastic pollution? Ethical footwear brands are turning the tide against plastic waste by creating shoes made from recycled plastic.

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest problems of the climate crisis. It’s estimated that about eight billion tonnes of plastic enter our oceans each year which makes up about 80% of ocean debris.

Ocean plastic not only damages marine life but it’s also a huge waste of resources.

The sad fact is a lot of plastic, like PET water bottles, could be recycled into useful products before they end up polluting the environment in the first place.

Quick links to pebble's fave recycled plastic shoes

The environmental cost of shoes

Shoes also have a large environmental footprint. Ideally, we wear them until they start to fall to bits on our feet but then we’re faced with a dilemma about what to do with our worn-out shoes.

If thrown away, they will almost certainly end up in landfill.

Of the 24.2 billion shoes manufactured annually, most of them are incinerated or sent to landfill simply because there aren’t enough recycling systems in place to keep up with the influx.

Most shoes are also made with a mix of synthetic materials which makes them hard to recycle anyway.

Why buy shoes made from recycled plastic?

Recycled plastic shoes target both environmental problems in one. They clean up the environment of plastic waste, giving a new lease of life to virgin resources.

They also make footwear more sustainable because if the materials can be recycled once then they can be recycled again.

In particular, these brands below consider the shoe’s afterlife from production.

They combine bio-based materials like wood or wool with recycled PET plastic to make them easy to recycle.

Many of them also have their own recycling schemes where you can send your worn-out shoes back to them so they can be patched up or reincarnated in other shoes or products.

So, ready to get on board with shoes made from recycled ocean plastic? Scroll down to find pebble’s favourites.

11 Recycled Plastic Shoes To Get Excited About

Woman lyin by a pool with recycled plastic shoes

1. Rens

Here’s something to go with your morning cuppa. Finnish athleisure brand, Rens are the world’s first creators of sneakers made from recycled plastic and coffee waste.

Launched in 2019, they quickly became Finland’s most successful Kickstarter campaign to date and now you can get your hands on a pair with nine distinctive colours of your choosing.

Each sneaker is effortlessly stylish, lightweight and comfortable to wear.

The material features AquaScreen Tech™ which allows air to pass through without letting water in to keep the shoes free of bacteria and odour with a drying ability 200% quicker than standard sneakers.

Another reason why they’re a pebble favourite? Rens won the prestigious Red Dot Award for Outstanding Product Design in 2021!

Pair of recycled plastic Rens shoes

Rens are the world's first to make shoes out of recycled plastic and coffee

2. Roscomar

Sneaker brand Roscomar are here to tackle the problem of old shoes ending up in landfill with their circular footwear collection.

Roscomar have thought carefully about the birth, life and afterlife of their sneakers to make sure each pair’s impact is a minimal one.

Choose between their Court range with uppers made from LWG Gold Certified leather and suede.

For a vegan alternative, go for their Rv3 with Tencel™ uppers, 100% recycled polyester laces and recycled ocean plastic panel backings from SEAQUAL.

The SEAQUAL community is made up of individuals and organisations who are ridding the ocean of plastic and upcycling it for commercial use.

Plus, once the sneakers reach the end of their lives, Roscomar recycles them free of charge.

Product image of grey Roscomar recycled plastic shoes

Roscomar consider how the shoe materials can be reincarnated after use

3. Rothy’s

Rothy’s offer a range of flat shoes for both men and women. There are bright stripes, subtle shades of blue, a choice between pointed and rounded toe and they’re comfy to boot.

You can also shop a range of recycled ocean plastic bags to match.

But Rothy’s go one better - each shoe is made by knitting recycled water bottle plastic. That’s right, this is a plastic knit that produces something comfier than a sneaker.

Even the soles are made from recycled water bottles. To top it off, the insoles are made from an algae-based foam harvested from algae that are harming our waterways.

The result? A super sturdy shoe that cleans up the planet and can be machine washable too.

Pairs of flats by Rothy's

These shoes are made from recycled plastic bottles and algae

4. Timberland

Cult boot company Timberland has quietly been adding recycled plastic bottles to their shoes for years, using them to create soles. They're now also turning waste bottles into thread for their boots, shoes, jackets and more.

A pebble favourite is the lightweight Supaway trainer with 50% recycled PET plastic, breathable footbed and shock-absorbing midsole.

The shoe is also made with ReBOTL™ fabric which contains at least 50% recycled plastic. So far, the equivalent of 345 million plastic bottles have been incorporated throughout Timberland’s collection.

What’s more, the bottles are collected from Haiti and Honduras to help tackle poverty in local communities.

Timberland’s environmental mission doesn't end there.

The brand is committed to planting 50 million trees around the world by 2025 and they’ve teamed up with seven partners in an initiative called Plant the Change™ to make it happen.

You can also donate your preloved shoes and clothes to their Second Chance scheme in collaboration with Soles4Souls.

Product image of Timberland shoes

Timberland use plastic bottles collected from Haiti and Honduras in their shoes and clothes

5. Allbirds

Allbirds are a fan favourite on the ethical shoe scene and it’s no surprise as their sneakers hit a home run for style, comfort and sustainability.

They’re also a certified B Corp so you know they mean business.

The majority of Allbirds shoes are made from eucalyptus tree fibre and superfine merino wool from New Zealand, where the brand was born.

This allows them to create footwear that uses 60% less energy to make than standard synthetic versions.

All wool is held to the highest standards of farming, animal welfare and land management through ZQ Merino.

Discarded ocean plastic is also featured in the laces. In fact, one recycled plastic bottle equals one pair of Allbirds laces.

Each pair of sneakers is super light and logo free, packaged up neatly in 90% recycled cardboard. They fit like a glove too!

Allbirds

Allbirds incorporate recycled plastic into their laces

6. Ocean Refresh

In need of some new summer kicks?

Ocean Refresh are turning the tide on plastic waste with their unique range of sustainable footwear made entirely from recycled ocean plastic, including ocean waste, PET and ghost nets.

The brand’s new eco-friendly collection turns the humble flip-flop into a must-have eco essential.

Each pair is made from up to 1kg of ocean plastic waste, including up to 24 single-use bottles.

Choose from a range of vibrant colours such as Starfish Pink, Dune Yellow, Lava Black and Ocean Blue. They can also be recycled in their 360° Program.

You can also shop their collection of vegan Wavecatcher sneakers complete with up to 12 plastic bottles in every pair.

Two images of flip flops

Ocean Refresh make flip-flops from recycled bottles that can be recycled too

7. Suavs

Comfy, lightweight shoes are always essential so it could be Suavs to the rescue.

This American brand creates each vegan-friendly pair from eight post-consumer waste plastic bottles to create a recycled knit that’s breathable, comfy and super flexible.

Each pair has breathable soles lined with moisture-absorbing terry-cloth to keep your feet dry even on a hot summer day.

You could even wear them sockless if the mood strikes!

Choose from low slung trainers to high tops in a range of colours, all designed and made in the most sustainable way possible.

Whether you’re running errands or hitting a nature trail, they’ll keep your feet happy and will look after the planet too.

Woman walking up steps with apples in a bag

Comfy, lightweight and sustainable - that's Suavs

8. Vionic

If you want a lightweight vegan summer shoe, look no further than Vionic.

A perfect pair of kicks for city escapes or beach holidays, Vionic’s Pismo are comfortable, supportive and considerate of the planet.

The women’s lace-up versions are made from eco-conscious canvas, sourced from ethically-produced cotton.

They also contain 50% post-consumer recycled polyester and 80% rubber and 20% soybean base-compound outsoles.

If they get a bit mucky, you can put them in the washing machine to make them look great for longer.

Another reason why pebble loves this shoe is that it comes in a range of colours and styles.

Pink shoes on feet dangling in the air

The perfect lightweight summer kicks with recycled polyester

9. TropicFeel

Tropicfeel is the ultimate travel shoe that’s 100% PETA approved.

When you set off on an adventure that involves hiking, swimming and sightseeing, the last thing you want is a rucksack full of footwear!

These versatile, vegan sneakers are the answer.

Tropicfeel's shoes fashion you with the look of a daily shoe, the sturdy sole of a hiking shoe and the comfort of a walking shoe.

They only work with suppliers that are fully traceable in every step of the supply chain.

They’ve also partnered with Cosmo and Bloom Foam to ensure their 100% plant-based shoes are formed from recycled and eco materials, including plastic water bottles.

pair of trainers

TropicFeel's travel shoes have transparent materials ad recycled plastic bottles in them

10. Giesswein

Austrian shoe brand Giesswein have a range of eco-friendly footwear to choose from, including slippers and sports shoes.

If it’s everyday women’s shoes that tackle plastic waste you’re after, their stylish ballet flats fit the bill perfectly.

Each pair has an upper made from recycled PET plastic thread woven together in one piece to prevent any waste in production.

They have a 100% biodegradable sole to match. You wouldn’t think it’s the case though as each ballet flat is super soft and comfy to wear.

pebble loves that you can wear this versatile shoe from day to night, from the office to happy hour.

Oh, and they’re 100% water-repellent too so you can wear them with confidence even when it’s tipping it down.

Woman wearing a dress and flats

Giesswein have got ballet flats in practically every colour

11. Astral

Get out on an adventure with Astral’s pared back off-road shoe. They’re an excellent choice if you’re looking for men’s shoes made from recycled plastic.

Made from 23% recycled polyester and 77% industrial hemp, Astral’s Donner shoe is durable, breathable (and thankfully, rot-resistant).

They’re also super balanced with a tapered instep and heel area for sturdy foothold and control.

Started by a biodynamic farmer, Astral’s shoes are created to have a low eco-impact but are high tech enough to hit the ground running for those who want to spend the weekends in the wilderness and everything in between.

Off road sneaker product image

The Donner is the ideal pared back men's shoe for the every day

Looking for more sustainable shoe options? Check out these 17 recycled shoes that save the planet.

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