Best Sustainable Shoes 2024: Eco-Friendly Footwear, Sneakers, Slip-Ons

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At a Glance: The Best Sustainable Shoes

The climate crisis is real. The statistics are grim. The hurdles are high. But if we learned anything recently, it should be that big things can happen when we all put our heads together, attack a common problem, and commit to making meaningful change.

One easy change you can make is in your fashion choices — specifically, your . Nowadays, there are newer players like Allbirds and Rothy’s, as well as established giants like Adidas, who are thinking outside of the shoebox to make their footwear production more sustainable.

A whole new world of vegan leather, bamboo uppers, upcycled ocean plastic, and soles made of algae and sugarcane is on the shelves and pioneering low-water, minimal-waste, carbon-neutralizing techniques and business plans are developed regularly. And the convenient truth is that no one is asking you to sacrifice style for sustainability. Even sneakerheads will be impressed with the following brands trying to make the world a better, safer, cleaner place one step at a time.

What Are the Best Sustainable Shoe Brands?

Looking for the best sustainable shoe brands online? We’ve rounded up some of our favorites, from casual kicks for festivals or brunch to sneakers that will hold their own during tough workouts and runs.

1. Allbirds Sneakers

Allbirds

I would walk 500 miles if it meant ending the climate crisis, especially if I got to do it in a swanky new set of breathable and sturdy Tree Runners from Allbirds, the popular shoe brand making footwear from sustainable materials.

The Tree Dashers are concocted from renewable eucalyptus trees in South Africa and sugarcane-derived foam from Brazil. Or, choose the slipper-like Merino wool Runners, cozy Pipers, or puddle-protected Mizzles, you know if it happened to be raining on this hypothetical quest.

All of this is to say you really can’t go wrong with this brand that’s the antithesis of fast fashion and one of the most transparent big businesses around. Allbirds tax themselves on 100 percent of their carbon emissions annually and label each product with its personal carbon tally. All their shoes are basically made from wool sourced from healthy ethical farms, the aforementioned tree parts from Forest Stewardship Council-certified groves, and/or the trademark SweetFoam, the world’s first green, carbon-negative EVA. They care so deeply about protecting the environment that they went a step above and gave the competition the recipe for it. Recently Reebok, Timberland, and Ugg have all bitten. The brand has invested in technology that generates the world’s first 100 percent natural plant-based pleather and intends to introduce styles using it later this year.

2. Cariuma Sneakers

Cariuma

With kicks as cute, cool, and consciously made as Cariuma’s, there’s no excuse for stocking your closet with synthetic sneakers anymore. Supporting this vibrantly colored made-in-Brazil brand also puts you in good company as Jon Hamm, Pete Wentz, Brooke Shields, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson are among Cariuma’s celebrity supporters.

You can also feel a burst of superiority knowing that for every pair sold, Cariuma’s founders have pledged to not only plant 10 trees in a tipping-point section of the endangered Amazon rainforest but are also paying indigenous communities who live in said forest to do the heavy lifting.

Currently, Cariuma says 43 percent of the materials they use are 100 percent vegan. It’s a number they’ve targeted to increase to more than 50 percent this year. Meat-based materials for the leather options are responsibly sourced from Argentina, Thailand, Brazil (but not Amazon areas deforested by cattle ranching), and China, and all of the water used to produce leather and suede is recycled and reused. Canvas OCAs use organic cotton and the highest purity rubber and IBIs are crafted from low-impact bamboo and reclaimed plastic.

3. Dr. Martens

Dr. Martens

Dr. Martens leather shoes and boots have been staples in the fashion world for decades, but the brand isn’t afraid to make some changes in the name of sustainability. They now offer vegan options, like these Adrian Felix loafers, which are made of synthetic leather that uses zero animal products.

However, even though the material might be different, you’re still getting the look, feel, and longevity you’d expect from Dr. Martens. The shoes feature Goodyear-welted lines, heat sealing, and welt stitching, which all help the shoes last for years. This durability is another facet of Dr. Martens sustainability. Things that are meant to last are arguably the best means of being sustainable. The longer your shoes last, the longer it is before you need to buy more.

4. Suavs

Suavs

Suavs‘ shoes are lightweight, comfortable, and thoughtfully designed, making them a versatile pick for travel, work, date night, and everything in between. The shoes are made from what Suavs calls a 100% recycled digital knit, essentially a super soft and flexible fabric made from post-consumer recycled water bottles. Everything is tested to ensure minimal impact on the environment, with a focus on reducing material waste during sourcing and production.

As for the shoes themselves, think cozy slip-on sneakers, lace-ups, and slides for men and women, all designed to pair with everything from shorts to jeans to trousers. The shoes are all incredibly breathable, with moisture-wicking properties, letting you go sockless without feeling sweaty or stuffy. The durable outsoles make these great for walking or casual hikes, without putting added stress on your feet.

5. Rothy’s Shoes

Courtesy Rothy’s

To create Rothy’s colorful, on-trend collections, the founders started with thread spun from repurposed plastic bottles and merino wool. (They’ve used 75 million discards so far.) Assembly of their lace-ups, loafers, slip-ons, and best-selling pointed-toe flats is done by hand and 3D knitting tech to shape. Shipping boxes are 100 percent recyclable and resealed for returns to avoid tape waste. They apply all the same eco-friendly practices to their adorable purses, totes, and weekenders.

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6. Adidas Stan Smith Sneakers

Courtesy of Adidas

Fly since Run-D.M.C. rapped about them in the Eighties, the new greener take on Adidas‘ signature sneaker, the Stan Smith, is also pretty fresh. They look identical to the originals, but the sustainability ante has been raised. The upper is now made with Primegreen, a series of high-performance recycled materials that make up at least 50 percent of the upper, and sans virgin polyester. Even the iconic blue Adidas shoebox received a redesign with Mother Nature in mind. It’s now made with around 90 percent recycled paper.

7. Atoms

The Atoms Model 000 is a casual skater-style sneaks that’s 99 percent recyclable, made using materials like recycled brass for the eyelets and antimicrobial copper threads. They’re also 100 percent vegan, so they create fewer carbon emissions than animal-derived products. They also utilize a waterless dyeing process which conserves the precious resource and eliminates the possibility of toxic runoff into groundwater or soil.

The shoes deserve kudos for reducing cardboard usage by 44 percent by customizing their shoebox design, eliminating receipt waste by foregoing them, choosing BPA-free shipping labels, and setting up carbon-neutral shipping. Also only stocking three timeless colors 24/7 and handling limited-edition pairs in a made-to-order fashion means there isn’t a lot of wasteful deadstock at the end of a season. But the real reason Atoms is a game-changer we should all be talking about is that they are the first shoe brand to offer quarter sizes for optimal fit. Yeah, we know, mind blown.

8. Veja

Zappos

The founders of Veja set out to disrupt the sneaker industry after they found unacceptable and unhealthy worker living quarters during an audit of a Chinese factory they conducted on behalf of the popular Western clothing brand they worked for in the early aughts. Seeking to build a better business model that protected workers, didn’t hurt the environment, and ultimately produced a higher quality shoe at an affordable price point, they headed to Brazil. Villagers who live in, and off of, the abundance of the Amazon led to wild rubber. They met a farming cooperative in the Nordeste that produces their organic cotton without fertilizers or pesticides and by using agroecology and gave them three-year planting contracts at double-market prices.

Porto Alegre is home to the factory where Vega now manufactures hipster high-tops and vegan trainers. They’ve continued to innovate along the way as their cult following grew, using vegetables to tan leather and creating fabric made out of discarded plastic bottles found on the streets of Rio and Sao Paulo. Now Veja sells in 50 countries and has matched two million pairs to happy feet. They also continue to fine-tune their fair trade and green practices to sleep even sounder at night. They refuse to use banks with branches in tax havens and get their green electricity from Enercoop which collects it from indie producers.

9. Sanuk

Courtesy of Sanuk

Laidback California brand Sanuk has long dabbled in groovy and green footwear designs made out of hemp, vegan materials, and recycled ingredients. To combat the environmental destruction fast fashion leaves in its wake, they also offer lots of machine-washable styles to extend the lifecycle of the shoes.

Lastly, SustainaSoles are one of Sanuk’s most sustainable products with 55 percent recycled content. Sanuk partnered with BLUMAKA to divert foam scraps typically produced in footwear production from being sent to landfills and instead convert them into a durable sole filler. The undyed uppers also save water (115 gallons per pair of Skuners) and energy.

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