Sustainable Shoes: 13 Brands Creating Planet-Friendly Footwear

Put Your Best Foot Forward With A Pair Of Eco-Friendly Shoes From One Of Our Favorite Sustainable Shoe Brands

We independently research all featured brands and products. To avoid waste, we test products on an as needed basis. This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission. Learn more about why we do this here.

Are you running in circles trying to find a pair of sustainable shoes?

From materials to manufacturing—not to mention what to do with your favorite sneakers when they eventually wear out—there’s a lot to consider when choosing environmentally friendly footwear.

If it seems like an uphill challenge, don’t worry. We’ll help you head straight to the finish line with our list of the most sustainable shoe brands for all your pro-planet footwear needs.

So, who stopped us in our tracks during our hunt for the most sustainable shoe brands?

Let’s start with our favorites.

The Best Sustainable Shoe Brands

There’s nothing wooly about Certified B Corp brand Babuuk’s ethical offerings. Their stylish unisex shoes are ethically manufactured using responsibly sourced mulesing-free wool.

Thousand Fell designs its closed-loop shoes to be sustainable from the start. They prioritize natural and sustainable materials, including vegan leather from recycled water bottles, and all their women’s and men’s eco-friendly shoes are repairable and recyclable.

8000Kicks gets a high five for using sustainable hemp fabric and recycled materials to create eco-friendly men’s and women’s shoes.

Whether you’re looking for fair trade flats, low-impact loafers, sustainable sandals, or conscious kicks, we’ve got your toes covered (or uncovered, depending on the style) with our ultimate list of the best sustainable shoe brands. 

To find out how we chose the brands on our list, skip down to the end of the article.

Our Curated List Of 13 Sustainable Shoe Brands Making Eco-Friendly Shoes That Better Fit The Planet

1. Baabuk

Sustainable Shoes - Images by Baabuk
Images by Baabuk

Price Range | $39–$169 | Shop Baabuk

Materials | Mulesing-free wool (from Portugal and New Zealand), natural latex, natural rubber, Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), and REACH-certified dyes.

What We Love | We’re not sheepish about our love for this Certified B Corp’s ethical wool shoes and slippers. They take their environmental and social responsibility seriously and care about the animals and people in their supply chain.

Baabuk’s Eco-friendly Shoes

This Swiss brand offers sneakers, boots, ballerinas, eco-friendly slip-on shoes, and slippers, all made from responsibly sourced mulesing-free wool. 

The Urban Wooler is their low-rise sustainable shoe made from mulesing-free Portuguese wool and a TPU sole. We’ve personally tested these (in honey grey!) here at pebblemag and they’re incredibly comfortable, easy to slip on and surprisingly go with so many outfits.

If you prefer a high-top sneaker, the Sky Wooler is made from the same wool but features a rubber and Nubuck sole. 

These ethical sustainable shoes are machine washable on a wool cycle. Choose between several stylish color combinations or custom design your own with their Baabuk by You option. 

Baabuk’s Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | Keeping shoes in circulation for longer is key to creating a more sustainable shoe industry. Babuuk’s wool sneakers are machine washable, and you can buy a repair kit and replacement insoles to make them last longer. Baabuk has their own resale platform The Marketplace by Baabuk, and a recycling program where you can return your old shoes for donation or recycling for raw materials. 

Supply Chain | Babuuk’s eco-friendly wool shoes are made in Portugal, their slippers in Nepal, and their boots begin in Nepal before being finished in Portugal. Both manufacturing partners were chosen for their expertise and the use of traditional techniques. Nepalese employees (who are mainly female) receive wages 25% higher than the national average and benefit from good working conditions. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | All of Baabuk’s shoes are unisex. To staff its logistics center in Switzerland, Babuuk partners with the BVA Foundation to provide employment opportunities to people with mental and physical disabilities. 

Pay It Forward | The Miss Baabuka Program is the brand’s joint initiative with ProSpecieRara (the Swiss foundation for the cultural and genetic diversity of plants and animals) to protect native endangered sheep. 


Sustainable Shoes - Images by ABLE
Images by ABLE

Price Range | $98–$158 | Shop ABLE

Materials | Eco-friendly leather shoes made from byproduct leather (from discarded hides), deadstock leather, rubber, cotton, tweed, and memory foam. ABLE’s leather manufacturing partners use a closed-loop water system and “semi-veg tanning,” a combination of vegetable and chrome tanning.

What We Love | Nashville-based ABLE offers some of the best sustainable women’s shoes for all occasions. They’re committed to women’s empowerment, body inclusivity, and creating high-quality shoes that will last a long time.

Able’s Sustainable Women’s Shoes

For sustainable shoes in the USA, ABLE caters to all our footwear needs with its collection of boots, flats, heels, sandals, and sneakers. 

For summer-ready sustainable slip-on shoes, the Whitney Sandal features chunky adjustable straps with gold-toned buckles and a padded footbed for all-day comfort. 

Beyond footwear, we love ABLE for its collection of ethical clothing, including dresses, tops, bottoms, coats, jackets, and a range of accessories. 

Able’s Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | All of ABLE’s ethical and sustainable shoes are guaranteed for life. 

Supply Chain | ABLE partners with suppliers who share their values and have created their own third-party auditing process. Together with Nisolo, they launched the Lowest Wage Challenge and are working to ensure living wages throughout their supply chain. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | Over 90% of staff are female. In addition to earning a living wage, employees benefit from a share in the company, full maternity pay, flexible working, fully paid healthcare options, and support with infertility and adoption. ABLE embraces body inclusivity and designs clothing for all bodies.

Pay It Forward | ABLE works closely with its suppliers to support female employment and empowerment. 

3. Thousand Fell

Sustainable Shoes - Images by Thousand Fell
Images by Thousand Fell

Price Range | $125–$135 (+$20 recycling deposit) | Shop Thousand Fell

Materials | Vegan leather (from recycled bottles coated with a corn waste resin and natural quartz), natural rubber, recycled rubber (from yoga mats), castor bean oil, aloe vera, coconut husks, palm leaf fibers, and sugar cane.

What We Love | Thousand Fell’s closed-loop eco-friendly skate shoes are designed to be recycled when they eventually wear out. Their durable recycled kicks are also vegan and made from several recycled materials, including food waste.

Thousand Fell’s Sustainable Skate Shoes

For classically styled, super comfortable sneakers, Thousand Fell has you (and specifically your feet) covered. Their shoes are breathable and stain-resistant and feature an odor-resistant aloe vera-coated liner. 

We’ve tried two of their vegan, sustainable shoes, the Women’s Lace-Up and the Women’s Slip On. The slip-ons hug the foot securely and are comfortable and light, while the lace-ups offer some extra support. 

Both are super comfortable. Thousand Fell claims their vegan shoes are tested to last for 2.4 million steps, and we could certainly imagine walking thousands of miles in these.

Thousand Fell’s Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | Recyclable sneakers made from sustainable materials are a much better deal for the environment. Thousand Fell also practices carbon offsetting and uses bicycles for local deliveries in NYC.

Supply Chain | The brand’s sustainable men’s shoes and women’s shoes are made in Brazil by a family-owned factory. 

Pay It Forward | Donated shoes find a new home with someone in need via the brand’s partnership with Soles4Souls.

4. 8000Kicks

Sustainable Shoes - Images by 8000Kicks
Images by 8000Kicks

Price Range | $129–$199 | Shop 8000Kicks

Materials | For uppers and insoles, 8000Kicks’s eco-friendly canvas shoes feature hemp fabric, one of the most sustainable natural materials. Outer soles are either Bloom foam algae, recycled rubber, or recycled plastic.

What We Love | Hemp shoes won’t get you high, but they are highly sustainable. Those from 8000Kicks combine hemp fabric with several other eco-friendly materials to help you tread a little lighter on the planet. They’re 100% vegan, too.

8000Kicks Sustainable Hemp Shoes

8000Kicks’ eco-friendly women’s shoes and men’s shoes come in four different styles. 

Two styles of sneakers, a Chelsea boot, and a slip-on. 

Their signature model, the Explorer V2 might easily be one of our favorite eco-friendly athletic shoes. Available in several different colors, the minimalist, versatile design is ready for everyday adventures. It’s durable, lightweight, and waterproof to boot. 

We’ve recently tested the Explorer V2 and find the waterproof feature super handy, especially for things like commuting and walking the dog on a rainy day. Although we did find the sizing ran a little big in the women’s version (men’s seemed to be fine).

8000Kicks Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | The brand’s manufacturing partners use some renewable energy, and 800Kicks is working with them to increase this amount. Supporting hemp farms and tree planting also helps to capture carbon. 

Supply Chain | 8000Kick’s vegan shoes are made in China and Portugal by partners selected on the basis of high quality and experience of working with hemp. Regular inspections ensure good working conditions and adherence to the brand’s Code of Conduct

5. Allbirds

Sustainable Shoes - Images by Allbirds
Images by Allbirds

Price Range | $55–$170 | Shop Allbirds

Materials | TENCEL™ lyocell ( from FSC-certified eucalyptus tree fiber), ZQ-Certified Merino Wool, FSC-certified natural rubber, Proforest-certified SweetFoam®, castor bean oil, bio-TPU, recycled polyester, and recycled nylon.

What We Love | Allbirds creates some of the best all-round sustainable footwear. They pioneer the use of renewable, natural materials, support regenerative farming, and take their carbon footprint seriously. 

Allbirds’ Sustainable Shoes

The Allbirds collection includes casual sneakers, running shoes, hiking shoes, flats, sandals, and sustainable slip-on shoes for men, women, and kids. 

We’ve been running with the Women’s Tree Flyer for about 6 months and love how lightweight and comfortable they are. With a breathable TENCEL™ lyocell upper and ZQ-certified wool heel lining, they’re the perfect running shoe for warmer weather. 

We’ve also previously tested one of Allbirds’ original products, the Wool Runner which will always be an all time favorite for comfort and style. We wore them for years until they literally got holes in the toes so we can vouch for their durability too.

We’d also recommend following the washing instructions if you plan to wash your Allbirds in the washing machine. We did not follow instructions with ours, which resulted in tears as the insoles have never quite been the same.

Allbirds also offers sustainable kids’ shoes, so you can kit your mini-me out in planet-friendly footwear, too.

Allbirds’ Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | The Carbon Neutral certified brand is on track to cut its carbon impact in half by 2025. They’ve created the world’s first net-zero carbon shoe – M0.0NSHO – due for release next year. 

Supply Chain | WRAP-certified factories make Allbird’s comfortable sustainable shoes in Vietnam and Korea.

Pay It Forward | The brand’s partnership with Soles4Souls means lightly worn shoes are donated to those in need. 

6. Cariuma

Sustainable Shoes - Images by Cariuma
Images by Cariuma

Price Range | $79–$169 | Shop Cariuma

Materials | Leather and suede sourced from LWG Gold Rated tanneries, organic cotton, FSC, and OEKO-TEX-certified bamboo, Braskem I’m green EVA (from sugarcane), mamona oil, natural rubber, GRS certified recycled PET (from plastic bottles), bluesign® approved dye chemicals. 

What We Love | Cariuma combines sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing to create eco-friendly shoes with a laid-back, retro aesthetic.

Cariuma’s Eco-friendly Skate Shoes

Whether you’re looking for sustainable skate shoes or just dig the old-school aesthetic, Cariuma’s classic collection of high-tops, low-low tops, and slip-ons keeps sustainability high on the agenda. 

Good news, too, if you’re looking for vegan eco-friendly shoes, as 65% of Cariuma’s line is vegan. The vegan models in their OCA High and OCA Low collections feature a cotton canvas upper paired with a bio-based insole and natural rubber soles. 

Choose between several colors and prints, including some more unique designs through their numerous collaborations.

We’ve tested two pairs from their skate range, one chosen for skating and one chosen for nostalgia (anyone remember the Converse days?), both of which have lived up to expectations and bring the ‘cool’ factor to any outfit.

Cariuma’s Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | This Certified B Corp considers climate by using a solar-powered warehouse, which is LEED Gold and ISO 14001:2015 certified. Express shipping is carbon neutral via DHL’s GoGreen, and their Reforestation Programme is helping to restore Brazilian rainforests. 

Supply Chain | Cariuma’s sustainable footwear is made in a WRAP GOLD-certified factory with regular audits ensuring high social standards. They have a comprehensive Code of Conduct and are working to increase traceability at each level of their supply chain. 

Pay It Forward | To capture carbon and pay it forward for the planet, Cariuma plants two trees for each pair of shoes they sell. 

7. Icebug

Sustainable Shoes - Images by Icebug
Images by Icebug

Price Range | $129–$249 | Shop Icebug

Materials | GRS-certified recycled PET, Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) wool, recycled wool, leather from Leather Working Group Gold-Rated tanneries, EVA mixed with BLOOM™ algae foam, supercritical foam, Ortholite® foam, recycled rubber, natural rubber, recycled plastic, recycled nylon, OEKO-TEX and bluesign®-approved GORE-TEX. 

What We Love | For outdoor footwear, including sustainable winter shoes, Swedish brand Icebug has your feet covered—whatever the terrain. Scan the QR code on each product tag to learn about its impact. 

Icebug’s Eco-friendly Winter Shoes

One of the best sustainable shoe brands for outdoor enthusiasts, Icebug offers eco-friendly hiking shoes, walking shoes, running shoes, and winter boots. 

The Larvik Hemp Biosole is a perfect all-around boot for everyday activities. It features a water-repellent upper made from hemp and nubuck and temperature-regulating hemp and wool padding. 

For summer adventure-ready sneakers, the Eli RB9X is made from 34% recycled and 13% bio-based materials and comes in eight beautiful colors. 

Icebug’s Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | This Certified B Corp aims to halve its carbon emissions by 2030. The Solar Rooftop Scaling Program is helping to decarbonize its supply chain in Vietnam; they use boat transport instead of air freight and support a carbon dioxide tax. 

Supply Chain | Icebug’s eco-friendly footwear is made in Vietnam and China. They’re a member of the Fair Wear Foundation and work closely with their suppliers to ensure fair wages and safe working conditions. 

Pay It Forward | This 1% for the Planet Member donates to several organizations, including Protect our Winters and Naturarvet. 

8. Alohas

Sustainable Shoes - Images by Alohas
Images by Alohas

Price Range | $90–$400 | Shop Alohas

Materials | Materials for uppers include Leather Working Group Certified leather, vegan leathers (from cactus, apple, and corn), a polyester and recycled polyester blend, and 100% cotton. Insole materials include leather, recycled polyamide, and a polyurethane and polyester blend. 

Materials for outsoles include rubber, recycled rubber, and 100% Cuerolite. We’re not sure what material the Cuerolite soles are made from, so we will be contacting the brand to find out. 

What We Love | Say hello to slow fashion with Alohas’ handcrafted shoes available on a pre-order basis. Their vegan collection is easily searchable from the main menu, and there are plenty of stylish options for year-round footwear.

Aloha’s Sustainable Handcrafted Shoes

Whether you’re looking for boots, clogs, flats, heels, loafers, mules, sandals, or sneakers, Alohas offers stylish, timeless shoes for every occasion.

For classic sustainable summer shoes that will never go out of style, their Crossed-Cream Vegan Leather Espadrilles are made from 100% vegan corn leather with a recycled polyamide insole and 100% jute outsole. They feature an adjustable ankle strap and come in Black, Beige, Cream, or Brown.

Aloha’s Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | Alohas’ pre-order business model reduces waste from overproduction, and local manufacturing helps to lower the brand’s carbon footprint. 

Supply Chain | Designed in Barcelona, Alohas’ sustainable footwear is handcrafted by skilled artisans in Alicante. The Aloha team regularly visits its suppliers to ensure excellent working conditions.

Pay It Forward | The carbon offset feature on the brand’s website enables you to add a donation to a carbon offset project of your choosing. Current options include renewable energy and forest regeneration projects. 

9. Nisolo

Sustainable Shoes - Images by Nisolo
Images by Nisolo

Price Range | $90–$260 | Shop Nisolo

Materials | All women’s and men’s eco-friendly shoes are made from leather (95% from Leather Working Group Certified tanneries), memory foam (for insoles),and natural rubber and wood (for heels and heel caps).

What We Love | Nashville-based Nisolo offers stylish and sustainable leather shoes for every occasion. We love their comprehensive Sustainability Facts Label that provides the full low-down on each product’s impact.

Nisolo’s Sustainable Leather Shoes

Nisolo’s stylish collection of women’s and men’s sustainable shoes includes boots, loafers, oxfords, slip-ons, sandals, and sneakers. 

With classic, timeless designs, these shoes are ready to accompany you to the office, on your next vacation, to a formal event, or even brunch with friends.

The Women’s Huarache Sandal is one of our summer wardrobe staples. Made from soft, water-resistant leather (that does take a little breaking in), the breathable, closed-toe design and cushioned midsole will see you through your day in comfort and style. 

Nisolo’s Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | This Climate Neutral certified brand is on a journey to 0% Net Carbon. They’ve installed solar panels on their Peru factory roof and partnered with Ecosphere+ to offset their emissions by supporting forest conservation projects. 

Supply Chain | Co-founder of the Lowest Wage Challenge Nisolo pays 100% living wages at its factory in Peru, where most of the leather shoes are made. They also partner with ethical manufacturers in Mexico, and their artisan jewelry is made in Kenya. 

Pay It Forward | Nisolo’s shoe reclamation program donates pre-loved shoes to Soles4Souls, who ensure they go to those who most need them. 

10. Rothy’s

Sustainable Shoes - Images by Rothy’s
Images by Rothy’s

Price Range | $119–$249 | Shop Rothy’s

Materials | Rothy’s uppers are knitted from recycled plastic bottles. They prioritize natural, bio-based, and recycled materials for the rest of the shoe, including algae-based foam, natural rubber, recycled rubber, bio-based TPU, and natural minerals. 

What We Love | Colorful, fun, machine washable, and made from recycled plastic, there’s a lot to love about the eco-friendly, sustainable shoes from this San Francisco-based brand.

Rothy’s Recycled Plastic Shoes

Rothy’s offers flats, loafers, mules, sandals, and slip-ons for women. They also offer a selection of eco-friendly shoes for men and some cute and colorful kids’ shoes. 

Made from 11 recycled water bottles, The Flat is Rothy’s sustainable take on a classic ballet shoe. The soft, flexible upper provides a glove-like fit, and you can pop them in the washing machine for a refresh. 

The only challenge might be choosing between the 22 different colors/patterns.

Rothy’s Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | Beyond using sustainable materials, Rothy’s is working to lower their emissions by using renewable energy and practicing carbon offsetting. Rothy’s knit their uppers using a 3D printing technology that produces 30% less material waste than traditional methods. They’re working towards a fully circular production process where the raw materials from their shoes can be recycled into new products. 

Supply Chain | Rothy’s owns and operates their LEED Gold-certified factory in China. Earlier this year, their factory also received TRUE Platinum certification for its zero waste practices.

Pay It Forward | Rothy’s has partnered with Dress For Success, donating shoes to support the organization’s work empowering women. They also regularly contribute to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 

11. Thesus

Sustainable Shoes - Images by Thesus
Images by Thesus

Price Range | $138–$209 | Shop Thesus

Materials | This eco-friendly shoes brand’s materials include recycled ocean plastic, recycled natural rubber, recycled foam, recycled PU (from car dashboards), recycled nylon, recycled foam, and recycled plastic bottles.

What We Love | Thesus creates its stylish and functional vegan footwear from 95% recycled materials, making it a go-to brand for those seeking vegan, eco-friendly shoes.

Thesus’ Vegan Eco-friendly Shoes

For sustainable walking shoes that are equally suited to hitting the trail and traversing urban terrain, Thesus’s Weekend Boot helps you spend your day off without worrying about the ecological footprint of your footwear. 

The upper is made from 100% recycled ocean plastic, the outsole from 45% recycled natural rubber, the insole from 100% recycled nylon, and the laces from 100% recycled plastic bottles. 

Did we mention they come in some fabulous colors, too? 

Thesus also offers a versatile clog and the Anyday Rain Boot, so you can get outside whatever the weather.

Thesus’ Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | The brand’s extensive use of recycled materials is an excellent step towards cutting carbon costs, and their ultimate goal is to become climate-positive. 

Supply Chain | All of Thesus’s vegan, eco-friendly sustainable shoes are made by carefully chosen factories in Portugal that pay a living wage. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | This BIPOC woman-owned company is committed to ensuring equal employment opportunities and celebrating diversity in all its forms. 

12. VEJA

Sustainable Shoes - Images by VEJA
Images by VEJA

Price Range | $70–$245 | Shop VEJA 

Materials | For its vegan-friendly uppers VEJA uses organic and regenerative cotton canvas coated with a 54% bio-based coating. Non-vegan models feature chrome-free leather from LWG Gold-certified and REACH-compliant tanneries. Other materials include recycled polyester, EVA, rubber, also natural rubber, rice waste, and sugarcane. 

What We Love | Are VEJA shoes sustainable? Yes! VEJA is committed to transparency and shares all the details of its journey towards sustainability. Materials are responsibly sourced, and VEJA goes the extra mile to support Amazonian farmers paying above the market prices. 

Veja’s Vegan & Eco-friendly Shoes

VEJA’s classically styled sneakers are a versatile wardrobe essential. They offer several styles for men and women and a great selection of eco-friendly kids’ shoes, too. 

Keep it old-school with the Wata II Low Top Sneaker. It features a 100% organic and regenerative cotton upper, an insole made with sugarcane, recycled EVA, Amazonian rubber, and organic cotton, and an outsole made from Amazonian rubber and recycled rubber. 

Veja’s Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | The emissions for each pair of VEJA’s shoes are listed in the product description. This Certified B Corp has calculated its Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions and published all the findings in the VEJA Carbon Footprint report. 

Supply Chain | VEJA’s eco-friendly shoes are manufactured in Brazil, where they also source most of their materials. Workers are paid fairly and have safe working conditions. The brand works directly with its cotton producers in Brazil and Peru and pays for 50% of the harvest in advance. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | VEJA has partnered with Log’ins to provide employment opportunities for disabled adults at its warehouse in Paris. 

13. Will’s Vegan Store

Sustainable Shoes - Images by Will’s Vegan Store
Images by Will’s Vegan Store

Price Range | $58–$194 | Shop Will’s Vegan Store 

Materials | Most of Will’s Vegan Store’s footwear is made from vegan bio-based leather produced in Italy. This contains 31% polyurethane but is free of PVC and PFCs. A few designs are made from a PU vegan suede that is OEKO-TEX-certified and REACH-compliant. Other materials include recycled polyurethane, rubber, TR, and polyester. 

What We Love | For sustainable shoes in the UK, PETA-approved brand Will’s Vegan Store offers plenty of wardrobe staples – all vegan, of course, and with plastic-free packaging to boot. 

Wills Vegan Stores’ Sustainable Vegan Shoes

From Ballerina Flats to Waterproof Hiking Boots (and everything in between), WVS offers vegan shoes for every occasion and activity.

For everyday ethical boots, the popular Luxe Smart Chelsea Boots are made from Italian vegan leather and feature a cushioned recycled insole for maximum day-long comfort.

Wills Vegan Stores’ Sustainability

Carbon Goals & Achievements | Will’s Vegan Store is Carbon Neutral certified. They offset all of their emissions by investing in environmental projects.

Supply Chain | Everything is made in Italy and Portugal following strict EU employment laws. Their Netherlands warehouse reduces the shipping distance to their EU customers and, consequently, their carbon footprint.

How Did We Choose The Best Eco-Friendly Shoes?

What are sustainable shoes, exactly?

It’s a good question, and there’s no short answer because there’s a lot to consider when weighing up the eco-credentials of that pair of cute flats you’ve fallen in love with.

Ultimately, it’s about shoes that leave the smallest ecological footprint behind and are kind to people and animals. 

Let’s shuffle through our list of criteria for what eco-friendly shoes are made from?


These are our first point of call when assessing a brand’s green and ethical credentials. Certifications help to back up the claims a brand makes and avoid any greenwashing.

B Corporation (B Corp), bluesign®, Climate Neutral Certified, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Global Recycling Standard (GRS), International Organization for Standardization (ISO 14001), Leather Working Group (LWG), Leadership In Energy And Environmental Design (LEED), OEKO-TEX, Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), ZQ

Fabrics & Materials:

The best sustainable shoes are those made of natural materials.

Natural, renewable, and biodegradable materials are best, including organic cotton, hemp, jute, bamboo, ethical wool, and natural rubber. 

Leather is a tricky one. On top of the ethical issues involved with using an animal product and the GHG emissions from farming, there’s also the issue of how the leather has been processed. 

Traditional leather tanning involves a cocktail of chemicals and heavy metals. We look for chrome-free, vegetable-tanned leather that has been responsibly sourced from Leather Working Group certified tanneries, an organization that’s leading the way in responsible leather production. 

Likewise with wool. We look for brands that only use mulesing-free wool and have full traceability of where their wool comes from. Certifications like the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) and ZQ help us to know which wool has been ethically sourced. 

Recycled materials

It’s crucial for a sustainable fashion future that we move away from using virgin plastics and towards natural and recycled materials. 

Fortunately, as the sustainable brands on this demonstrate, there are plenty of recycled plastic alternatives, including recycled polyester from water bottles and ocean plastic, recycled rubber, recycled nylon, and recycled EVA. 

For a list of brands who use recycled materials, check out our list of recycled shoes.

Innovative bio-based materials

Several new materials have cropped up in recent years, like BLOOM™ algae foam, which replaces traditional EVA, and vegan leathers made from bio-based materials such as corn and apples. 

Carbon Goals & Achievements: 

We looked for brands taking genuine steps to get a handle on their CO2 emissions by first measuring them for a proper understanding and then taking steps to reduce them. Material sourcing, manufacturing processes, energy use, and transportation (e.g., boat vs. air freight) are all factors that can affect a brand’s overall footprint. 

While carbon offsetting is a start, we want to see brands reducing their emissions in the first place and working towards a circular fashion future where eco-friendly materials can be reclaimed and recycled. 

Supply Chain:

Social sustainability means ensuring that everyone involved in the supply chain, from raw materials to shipping, benefits from fair wages and healthy working conditions. Transparency, traceability, and third-party audits are crucial. 

Pay It Forward: 

Big-hearted eco-friendly shoe brands that give back via financial contributions and product donations to charity partners put a skip in our step. 

Closing Thoughts On Eco-Friendly Shoes

From top-to-bottom, the fashion industry needs a serious overhaul to align with a fair, healthy, and sustainable future.

From head-to-toe, conscious consumers can help by thinking carefully about each piece of clothing and pair of shoes they buy. 

Let’s keep on our toes when shopping for footwear that’s better for people, animals, and the planet.

Help spread the word about the brands going the extra mile for sustainability by sharing this article on affordable eco-friendly shoes with your shoe-shopping buddies. 

Looking for more? Check out our list of ethically made shoes.