16 Recycled Shoes That Get Creative To Save The Planet
On the hunt for new footwear?
It's time you got in step with recycled shoes. Here are 16 of our faves that save the planet.
Footwear accounts for 16% to 32% of the fashion industry’s total environmental pollution.
Depending on the material, shoe manufacturing takes its toll on the planet in different ways.
For example, leather requires raw materials and the tanning process often involves toxic chemicals - not to mention, the environmental implications of cattle farms.
Textile-based shoes use up a lot of water, but on the other hand, synthetic-based footwear is made from plastic.
Once a pair of shoes reaches the end of its life, it usually ends up in landfill where it can take over 1,000 years to decompose.
So, what’s the alternative?
Recycled shoes made from renewable and upcycled materials.
Why buy recycled shoes?
Did you know 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown out in the UK each year?
On top of that, most footwear contains mixed materials like metals, plastics and leather, making them harder to recycle.
Some synthetic materials take over 1,000 years to break down in landfill.
Just like most of the fashion industry, shoes suffer from seasonal trends.
Some of the biggest culprits are sneakers.
Newest releases by top brands are the hottest fashion must-have one moment and over the next, causing many of them to be discarded or incinerated.
In a world consumed by shrinking natural resources and an excess of chemical-waste and plastics, it’s time to start thinking about our shoe buying habits.
Can materials from our old shoes find a new lease of life elsewhere?
Could we perhaps opt for footwear by brands that tackle pollution and get innovative with natural resources?
Choosing sustainable shoes has never been easier thanks to these 16 brands below.
Through-cutting edge design and creative use of materials, these brands prove that recycled shoes are 100% the future of footwear.
16 Recycled Shoes That Get Creative To Save The Planet
1. Clarks Origin
The new Origin range by Clarks focuses on simplicity to create a design that only uses five components that fit ingeniously together without the need for glue.
The result? Less plastic, less waste and a more positive impact on the planet.
The range is part of their Made to Last ethos that guarantees a skilfully constructed comfy shoe that withstands the test of time.
The materials are simple - unlined leathers from a Gold-rated tannery that reduce the amount of water and energy in the tanning process. They’re soft, breathable and beautifully lightweight.
You have three colours to choose from, including white, black and light pink.
Belgian sustainable sneaker brand, Norm are tackling the wasteful trend of chucking out old shoes head-on by launching their new recycling program, ‘Circle’ to close the loop.
If you have a pair of old Norms that look like they’ve seen better days, you can post them free of charge to the brand and you’ll get 15% off your next purchase.
It doesn’t matter how battered your sneakers are.
If the damage isn’t too bad, they’ll clean them up and donate them to a non-profit.
If the sneakers are past that point, they’ll get crushed and turned into outsoles. Your old shoes will be given a new lease of life no matter where they end up.
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 we love this shoe is that it comes in a range of colours and styles.
4. Beyond Skin
Looking for vegan shoes that don’t shout vegan?
PETA approved Beyond Skin hand make all their styles from heels to trainers in Spain using eco-friendly materials. From camel coloured ankle boots to knee-high black faux suede numbers (made from 100% recycled PET plastics) and pewter brogues, Beyond Skin operate like a regular shoe brand, only there’s no leather or PVC.
To top it off, all shoes made by the conscious designer brand have a 100% faux leather lining with a vegetable polymer coating.
There are hundreds of styles of flats and heels to choose from.
Enough to keep even the most dedicated shoe-shopper happy. Plus, 5% of profits are donated to grass-roots environmental and social projects.
Even the skate shoe has had an ethical makeover.
German brand Langbrett are made from chrome free leather, lined with organic cotton fleece, upcycled materials and made with recycled cork soles. All products are made in Europe, mainly Portugal, under fair working conditions.
Langbrett go above and beyond in sourcing materials, they own their own sheep flock to make wool and their profits go back into developing their own skating community in Germany.
Get out on an adventure with Astral’s pared back off road shoe.
Made from recycled polyester and hemp, the Donner style is durable, breathable (and thankfully we hear, rot resistant).
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.
7. Collection & Co
New British vegan shoe brand Collection & Co have a range of trend-lead heels and boots which are PETA approved and start at a reasonable price.
They use recycled and waste materials instead of leather and makes the shoes in small, family run factories in Portugal. Think power courts, beautiful brogues, graphic block heels and mustard ankle boots.
A men’s collection has also arrived featuring faux leather boots, unisex Piñatex® sneakers and Chelsea boots.
A mission to tackle the waste produced by the fashion industry led them to produce a revolutionary technology, which they used to create their stylish and sustainable sneakers.
The material, made from a combination of old coffee grounds and recycled plastic, makes these caffeinated kicks waterproof, odour-free and light on feet.
In fact, six recycled plastic bottles and 150 grams of coffee waste go into a single pair of Rens sneakers.
Making the fashion industry more eco-friendly by tackling food and plastic waste? Sounds like an excellent idea to us.
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 soul 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.
VIVAIA vie not to contribute to the environmental mess the fashion industry is in.
Instead, they make season-less wardrobe essentials from sustainable materials.
You can walk from one season straight into another wearing these ethically produced, stylish shoes.
Their style is timeless, classic and elegant, as is the array of bright and tasteful colours they come in. VIVAIA’s range of footwear are sustainably made using a combination of natural and recycled materials.
Recycled plastic water bottles are turned into thread to knit the shoes together while a natural latex foam derived from rubber resin makes them extra comfy. The shoes also have carbon-free rubber outsoles that are flexible, odour and fungi resistant.
11. Ponto Footwear
Introducing you to the ultimate multi-occasion shoe. Ponto Footwear present the qualities of a trainer, in the design of a traditional dress shoe. You can go from the boardroom to the bar (and back again) all in Ponto.
The shoe is made from recycled leather trimmings, rounded up from tannery floors. This is material that would have been destined for landfill.
The bottom of the pacific is made from algae based foam, and the recycled foam insole is lined with a biodegradable odour killing Tencel fabric.
It’s light, breathable, sweat resistant and adapts to fit your feet. Ponto have removed many toxic practices from their manufacturing methods and produce the Pacific using recycled water.
So, purchasing one pair is now the equivalent of returning 120 bottles of filtered water back to the environment.
Made from superfine merino wool from New Zealand, where Allbirds were born, the amazingly comfy trainers use 60% less energy to make, turn discarded ocean plastics into laces and come in recycled cardboard packaging.
Each pair is super light and logo free - and did we mention they fit like a glove? We're obsessed.
13. Two Degrees
Boat shoes that aren’t just for boats? Say hello to Two Degrees. These guys launched last year on a platform of saving 1,000 square feet of endangered habitat for every pair bought.
They’re superbly comfy whether you’re on the beach or walking the deck, come in five shades from charcoal to olive and are built to last.
Each pair uses waste bio-leather, recycled rubber soles and comes in biodegradable packaging for a lower impact on the planet. Perfect.
Say hello to 100% sustainable sneakers from Sweden’s super stylish Tretorn too.
Influenced by the sleek tennis shoes of the 1960s, these low slung, casual trainers are made from fully recyclable and recycled materials and come with flashes of colour if you don’t want to take the all-white approach.
15. KUMI Sneakers
Called ‘sneakers for adventurous people,’ KUMI Sneakers are about to launch a brand new sneaker range that’s perfect for conscious globetrotters.
KUMI is founded on the three principles: respect for animals, a fashion industry that's sustainable and supporting local production. Their shoes are made with recycled materials including plastic bottles, combined with vegan and sustainable materials to create an ethical design that’s modern and stylish.
There are six different sneaker designs to choose from but currently only one prototype. You can preorder a pair through their Kickstarter campaign.
One of the big reasons why we recycle is to reduce carbon emissions. Cariuma take the preventative approach by creating a sneaker that has a low carbon footprint right from the beginning. In fact, their new IBI Slip-on is the world’s lowest carbon footprint sneaker.
After 24 months in development, the dedicated team behind the carbon emission-friendly shoe managed to reduce the footprint down to 5.48kg CO₂e. For comparison, the average pair is approximately 14kg CO₂e.
The IBI Slip-on has a one-piece lightweight bamboo-knit upper and sugar cane EVA outsole to give it a comfy ergonomic design you won’t want to kick off in a hurry. What’s more, these shoes are designed to last.
To help them with their project, Cariuma partnered with Pré Sustainability to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to calculate the true carbon footprint of their record-breaking sneakers.
You may also like...
What to Do Next
Stay up to date with all the latest eco news and features. We plant trees for every subscriber. Every 100th subscriber wins their own tree.
Support Us On
From £3 a month. Help us invest in new journalism on topics that matter to you.
Join Our Facebook
Ask questions and share tips, recipes and your green wins in our super friendly Facebook community, the pebble pod.