Sustainable and Ethical Style: Our Guide to Eco-Friendly Footwear
Vintage clothing, natural dyes and organic materials – sustainable footwear and clothing is here to stay. As the world becomes more green-conscious, it’s important to shop with sustainability in mind.
Taking small steps to a more ethical way of buying your clothes and footwear does count towards a greater positive impact on the retail industry. Choosing what you buy, and who you buy from, directs your hard-earned cash to more environmentally friendly brands, cutting down on your contribution to carbon emissions and harmful practices.
Everyone wants that trusty pair of trainers that will see them through the seasons, And buying sustainable footwear doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on quality or style. Luckily, today, there are more sustainable footwear options than ever before, including vegan and recycled materials.
Discover the ins and outs of sustainable footwear, what to look out for and the top sustainable footwear and trainers in our comprehensive guide.
What’s on this page:
What does sustainability mean in footwear?
Sustainable footwear refers to shoes made from materials that have a lower negative impact on the environment and natural resources. This includes fabrics like organic or recycled cotton, organic hemp and linen, wood, straw and other eco-friendly materials that can be maintained and re-grown. Some sustainable shoes can also be made of biodegradable materials, which break down naturally over time.
Looking for vegan trainers and footwear is also a good way to find eco-friendly shoes. If shoes are certified vegan, this means that they have not contributed to the manufacturing and production of animal products, which itself contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.
However, it’s not just the fabrics that make the footwear sustainable. How the shoes are manufactured is also crucial. Eco-friendly methods such as 3D knitting technology, dope-dyeing, and using sustainable energy sources help to minimise the negative impact on the environment.
When shopping for vegan and sustainable footwear, be mindful of:
- The materials – all textiles should be grown, harvested and processed in an eco-friendly way.
- The certification – certifying bodies will confirm if a brand is fair trade and ethical. Check for the certification on the brand’s website or packaging.
- The production – be wary of how often or quickly a brand produces clothing and shoes. This is usually a sign that they do not follow sustainable practices.
- The tags – try to avoid shoes that have descriptions/tags such as ‘genuine leather’ or ‘real fur’. These shoes use animal products.
What brands offer vegan and sustainable footwear?
Rocket Dog offers a wide range of sustainable shoes as part of its pledge to help tackle climate change. Rocket Dog carefully crafts shoes that are built for comfort, from sole-warming .
The brand also uses recycled packaging and incorporates sustainable components into its products, whether it’s the outsoles, uppers, rivets, eyelets, laces or insoles.
Skechers puts human rights at the heart of its core business values. With this comes sustainable footwear that is stylish, comfortable and treated with care. Since 2016, the brand has reduced its foot form plastic by 99% to less than 1% – all of which is 100% recyclable.
Whether you’re looking for lightweight trainers or recycled sports shoes, Skechers ensures they will stay comfortable all day long.
Sprox footwear is designed with style and comfort in mind. The brand is renowned for producing high-quality shoes that are hard wearing, supportive, and easy to fasten – all with a unique style suitable for work and play.
Their shoes feature often in our Vegan shop, so you know you can buy sustainable footwear for all the family. Whether it’s back-to-school time, or you’re looking for a pair of vegan trainers to keep your feet happy.
Sturdy, fashionable and eco-friendly, Regatta offers chunky trainers and walking boots in a variety of colours and styles. They have a wide variety of sustainable footwear on offer, proudly offering pairs made from both eco-friendly and plant-based materials..
If you’re searching for vegan walking trainers and boots, then look no further. Head out with a pair of plant-based hiking boots or sustainable walking sandals and tackle the great outdoors.
Shu Da Living
Shu Da Living is dedicated to sustainability with its range of slippers that are breathable, comfortable, and eco-friendly. The brand began its sustainability journey in 2019 and is determined to reduce carbon footprint and recycling.
As well as using sustainable packaging, Shu Da offers a vegan slipper range free from all animal products. They also introduced sugarcane soles for all their trainers in 2022.
What shoe material is best for the environment?
When producing sustainable footwear, all materials should be processed in an ethical way that inflicts less damage on the environment. Materials used in fast fashion – such as fur, leather, harsh chemicals and dyes – can be toxic and harmful to the environment. An eco-friendly brand will avoid these materials and focus on natural fibres instead.
Some popular materials used in sustainable shoes include:
- Pineapple leather
- Recycled plastic
- Organic cotton
- Apple leather
Sustainability doesn’t just stop at the shoes themselves. Some shoe brands have been known to utilise environmentally friendly alternatives, such as recycled cardboard and plastic packaging. Others have simply reduced the amount of paper used for box lining and shoe stuffing to minimise waste.
Our top picks for vegan trainers and sustainable footwear
With so many options to choose from, why not browse our full collection of vegan footwear? Alternatively, we also have a few top picks to give you a step in the right direction.
SPROX Women’s Black Platform Canvas
These vegan platform canvas trainers from SPROX definitely add a spring to your step. With a level 4.5cm heel, this shoe adds height and flare to the basic canvas silhouette. Not only this, but these vegan trainers are eco-friendly too!
Dare2B Hex-At Women’s Trainer
This classic sports trainer is breathable, comfortable, and made from recycled materials. Designed with style and support in mind, the comfy socks means you can slip the shoe on and off with ease, and the cushioned sole supports active feet.
Regatta Cypress Evo Men’s Hiking Boot
Take a stroll on the green side with these men’s brown hiking boots from Regatta. With a shock-absorbing rubber outsole and a foam footbed, these boots are perfect for hilly treks. They’re also made with a mix of recycled and plant-based materials, making them the ideal vegan winter boots for eco-friendly travellers.
Hush Puppies The Good Slipper in Cream
What’s winter without a good slipper? These cream slippers from Hush Puppies are a must-have this season. This furry number is made from 90% recycled polyester, and has an organic cotton sock and 100% recycled insole made from comfy foam. Their sole is also crafted from natural rubber, so you won’t be slipping around the house.
Rocket Dog Luca Recycled Women’s Sandal
Show your feet (and the planet) some love with this stylish summer staple. These Rocket Dog sandals are made from completely recycled materials. Their chunky sole adds height and grip, making them perfect for beach days and evenings out.
Skechers Skech Lite Pro Clear Rush Men’s Trainer
Skechers are one of the top brands when it comes to vegan trainers, which is why we’ve picked this sustainable pair. These Rush trainers feature a stylish upper and comfy, cushioned sole. Not forgetting – they’re also 100% vegan!
As you can see, sustainable footwear is ever popular and ever-growing. If you still need some help, why not check our guide on vegan shoes? Once you’ve found the perfect pair, knowing how to clean them will also come in handy.
Shop online with Shoe Zone and find your next planet-friendly pair.