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Treading Lightly – What is Sustainable Footwear?

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Have you ever considered the journey your shoes made before they ended up on your feet?

Or pondered the footprint they’ll leave long after they’ve walked their last mile?

In an age where the terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘eco-friendly’ are more than just buzzwords; they are calls to action, it’s time to dive deeper into the significance of sustainable shoes meaning.

What is Sustainable Footwear? you might ask. It’s a simple question with a complex answer, intricately woven into our consumers’ choices and the future we’re creating for our planet.

So, strap on your most comfortable pair and join us as we tread the path of understanding sustainable footwear materials and production.

After all, the shoes you choose to wear might just have a bigger story to tell than you think.

When looking for sustainable in footwear, it is important to consider the materials used in the shoe’s construction.

Some sustainable natural materials for shoes include rubber, cork, bamboo, and organic cotton.

Shoes made from recycled plastic bottles, old shoes, or tires are considered sustainable because they do not require new raw materials to be produced.

Eco-friendly shoes should also minimize negative environmental impacts during design, manufacturing, and maintenance life cycles.

This sustainability footwear is becoming increasingly popular as people become more conscious of the environment.

Many sustainable shoes, trainers, and boots are available today.

Below I’ll discuss some of the best footwear sustainability options currently available. And the reasons why it’s important to buy them.

Sustainable footwear - Flip Flops with grass in

How shoe brands can be more sustainable

There are many different ways that shoe brands can become more sustainable. One way is to use recycled or sustainable shoe materials.

Some brands also use biodegradable materials, which break down naturally over time. Others focus on creating shoes that are easy to recycle or reuse.

Several shoe companies offer repair services for shoes, which helps to reduce the amount of waste produced.

Another important aspect of sustainability in the footwear industry is responsible manufacturing. This includes ensuring that shoes are made in a way that does not damage the environment.

For example, Nike’s sustainable materials, like other brands, use water-based glues instead of toxic solvents. They also ensure that their factories comply with environmental regulations and use sustainable energy sources.

Sustainable footwear is not only good for the environment, but it is also good for your health.

Many sustainable shoes are designed to be comfortable and supportive. They can help to prevent foot problems such as blisters and corns.

In addition, they often feature breathable materials that keep your feet cool and dry.

Why should you consider buying sustainable shoes?

There are many reasons why sustainable footwear is a good choice. It can help to reduce your carbon footprint and save resources.

In addition, you will be doing something positive for the environment by purchasing these products!

Eco-friendly footwear is often made from recycled plastic bottles or old tires.

These materials would otherwise go into landfills, which will take up space and may even release harmful chemicals into the air if burned instead of recycled properly.

By purchasing brands that use recycled materials for shoes, you are helping reduce your impact on climate change.

Less waste is produced during their production than traditional methods used in manufacturing other types of footwear.

The environmental impact of the footwear industry is significant.

The footwear industry alone is responsible for a high proportion of all carbon emissions, contributing to climate change and global warming.

This highlights the importance of footwear industry sustainability.

Using leather requires large amounts of energy and water and causes pollution from tanning chemicals.

An MIT study found that manufacturing a typical pair of running shoes generates approximately 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to burning a 100-watt light bulb for seven days.

If we all make a concerted effort to buy shoes made of more sustainable, natural materials whenever possible, we can help to reduce this number!

Guide to buying sustainable footwear – How to know if footwear is sustainable or not

Sustainable footwear is becoming more and more popular. However, it can be difficult to know which brands are truly sustainable and which are just using greenwashing to profit from consumers who care about the environment.

To help you find the best footwear made from sustainable materials, we have created a guide with three questions you should ask yourself before buying any new pair of shoes.

1. Do they use recycled or natural materials?

The first question is whether or not the brand uses recycled or natural resources rather than synthetic materials in its products.

This typically means less strain on resources like water and energy because it takes less time to produce something using recycled materials than to extract and process new resources.

For example, some of Nike’s sustainable shoes use’ Flyleather’ made from at least 50% upcycled leather scraps that would have otherwise gone to waste.

The company estimates that for every pound of Flyleather produced, they save twenty-five gallons of water.

Patagonia shoes are made from recycled plastic water bottles, while Adidas creates running shoes from old ocean waste.

Although you could classify leather as a natural product, the leather industry and the global leather supply chain are responsible for releasing toxic chemicals while processing leather shoes.

Look for alternatives like vegetable-tanned leather or vegan leather shoes where possible.

So if you’re looking for a shoe brand that is mindful of the environment and its resources, look for one that uses recycled or natural quality rather than man-made process-intensive materials.

2. Do they commit to sustainability?

The next question is whether or not the company commits to sustainability.

This means that they are not just using recycled materials in their products but also working to reduce waste and energy use throughout the entire manufacturing process.

Fairtrade practices, ethical working conditions, and fair labor practices also figure strongly here.

Although ethical manufacturing is not strictly linked to sustainable manufacturing processes concerning working conditions.

Ethical production does, however, link to minimizing negative environmental impacts and an ethical supply chain.

Ethical shoe brands usually seek continuous improvement in all of the above areas.

For example, Reebok has a program called “Eco-Design” which works with suppliers who share its values of reducing environmental impact while maintaining quality control standards.

Another example is Timberland’s “eco-index,” which rates its products on a scale of one to three based on how well they meet certain sustainability criteria.

3. Do they use renewable energy?

The third question you should ask yourself when looking at sustainable footwear brands is whether or not they are using renewable energy sources in their manufacturing process.

This means that the company is reducing its environmental impact and offsetting it by using energy from renewable resources like wind or solar power.

For example, Allbirds uses recycled materials and renewable energy in their production process.

Their “Wool Runners” are made from sustainably sourced wool, while their “Tree Runners” are made from eucalyptus trees grown without pesticides or herbicides.

Allbirds logo

The Future of sustainable footwear

The future of sustainable footwear is bright. There are many options for eco-friendly shoes, and the footwear industry is growing rapidly, so keep your eyes peeled for new sustainable brands as they pop up!

As you can see, many ways to make sustainable footwear exist. It is not just about finding the right brand but also asking yourself what your values are regarding sustainability and what you are willing to compromise.

So next time you’re in the market for a new pair of shoes, remember these questions and find a good pair for you and the environment.

Best Sustainable Shoes

Where can you find sustainable footwear that’s affordable and stylish?


When it comes to sustainable fashion, Able is a brand that you can trust. The company produces shoes made of ethical materials sourced sustainably and manufactured responsibly.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, Able’s shoes are stylish and comfortable.

Able to consider the environment in every step of the shoe-making process. For example, the company uses organic cotton and recycled polyester in its footwear to reduce waste.

The sole of each shoe is made from a rubber compound that includes repurposed tires as an ingredient, which saves plastic from ending up in landfills or oceans around the world.

Able also donates shoes to those who need them most through its One for One program.

Able is a great option if you’re looking for a pair of shoes that are good for your feet and the planet.

With so many styles, you’re sure to find a pair of sustainable sneakers, sandals, or boots that fit your needs and look great too!


Allbirds is one of the leading brands in sustainable shoe production, offering a wide range of products for both men and women. In addition to being environmentally friendly, Allbirds shoes are stylish and affordable.

Founded in 2014 by Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger. They use wool from New Zealand merino sheep to make their shoes.

The wool insulation helps regulate temperature and manages moisture. In addition, all of the dyes used in the shoes are non-toxic.

Allbirds also partner with Trees for the Future to plant trees for every pair of shoes sold.

One issue with sustainable clothing brands is that they can be more expensive than traditional brands. However, Allbirds offers competitive prices, given the quality of their products.

If you want shoes made from sustainable materials, Allbirds is a great option. They offer many products for men, women, and children. You can also order their shoes online or in-store.


Nisolo is a sustainable shoe brand that creates beautiful, high-quality shoes. Nisolo focuses on using environmentally friendly materials and ethical production practices.

All of Nisolo’s shoes are made in Peru, which allows the company to have close relationships with its shoemakers and support local economies.

In addition to being environmentally friendly and ethically produced, Nisolo’s shoes are affordable, making them a great choice for sustainable footwear.

Check out Nisolo to learn more about its mission and see its collection of stylish shoes!


Veja is a sustainable shoe brand that offers high-quality, stylish shoes at an affordable price. The company uses sustainable materials like organic cotton, wild rubber, and recycled plastic to create its shoes.

Moreover, Veja partners with the Rainforest Alliance to ensure its materials are sourced responsibly. In addition, for every pair of shoes sold, Veja donates money to charity.

Veja also offers a variety of styles and colors so you can find the perfect pair of shoes for you.

If you’re looking for a stylish and affordable shoe brand that is environmentally friendly, Veja is a great option.

Check out Veja to learn more about their products and how they help the environment.

Thousand Fell

336x280 Recyclable V2

The company uses recycled and upcycled materials whenever possible to construct its shoes.

Thousand Fell is a sustainable shoe brand that creates shoes out of natural materials like cork, wool, and organic cotton.

They are also a cruelty-free brand, meaning they do not use any animal products to manufacture their shoes.

In addition to being environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, Thousand Fell’s shoes are also stylish and comfortable.

If you’re looking for a sustainable alternative to your current footwear collection, check out Thousand Fell’s line of shoes! You won’t be disappointed.

New customers can enjoy an exclusive 10% off from Thousand Fell with code WELCOME10


One of the most popular sustainable shoe brands on the market is TOMS. The company was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, who was inspired to create a business model to help those in need.

TOMS is a company that focuses on the social and environmental benefits of buying fair-trade products.

For every pair of shoes purchased, a new pair is donated to a child in need through their One-for-One initiative.

TOMS also takes sustainability into account throughout its manufacturing process.

They use recycled and reclaimed materials whenever possible and partner with factories that meet high environmental standards.

You can feel good about helping others while supporting sustainable practices by choosing TOMS shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is sustainable footwear?

Sustainable footwear refers to shoes produced using environmentally friendly practices, from sourcing materials to production methods.

This often means using recycled or renewable resources, reducing carbon emissions, and ensuring fair trade and labor practices.

How is sustainable footwear different from regular footwear?

Sustainable shoes differ from regular shoes in the materials used and how they’re produced.

Regular shoes often involve environmentally harmful practices and non-renewable resources.

Sustainable shoes strive to minimize environmental impact and promote social responsibility.

Are sustainable shoes comfortable?

Yes, sustainable shoes can be as comfortable as their non-sustainable counterparts.

Comfort largely depends on the design and materials used, and many sustainable brands prioritize these aspects.

Where can I buy sustainable footwear?

Many retailers offer sustainable footwear options, both online and in physical stores. Some popular brands include Allbirds, Veja, and Rothy’s.

Are sustainable shoes more expensive?

While sustainable shoes can sometimes be more expensive due to the higher cost of responsibly sourced materials and ethical production methods, prices vary widely between brands.

It’s also important to consider the long-term environmental cost of non-sustainable footwear.

How can I ensure my shoes are sustainable?

Look for transparency in a brand’s supply chain, materials, and labor practices.

Certifications like the B Corporation Certification can also indicate a commitment to sustainability.

Can I recycle my old shoes?

Yes, many brands and organizations have shoe recycling programs. Some even offer incentives for recycling your shoes, such as discounts on future purchases.

In Summary

Sustainable footwear represents a crucial step towards a more eco-conscious consumer culture.

The need for sustainability in the footwear industry has never been greater. As consumers, we can shape the industry by making conscious choices about what we wear on our feet.

The term encapsulates shoes made through environmentally friendly practices spanning materials sourcing to production processes, utilizing renewable or recycled resources whenever possible.

It’s an approach that minimizes environmental impact and champions social responsibility, such as fair trade and labor practices.

While sustainable shoes can sometimes come at a higher price point, the cost reflects the investment in preserving our environment and promoting ethical business practices.

By investing in shoes made from natural materials or sustainable material shoes, we can help decrease our carbon footprints, conserve our planet’s finite resources, and foster a greener future for generations to come.

We can tread lightly on our planet by choosing sustainable footwear, turning each step into a statement of our commitment to a sustainable future.