The footwear industry is a huge source of waste with over 24 billion pairs of shoes produced each year. Given the low quality of most of these shoes, the vast majority end up in landfills. Worse still, many shoes can take 1,000 years to break down because they are plastic. Additionally, shoes are difficult to shred and recycle because they are made from many different materials, including metals. In short, the overproduction of poorly made shoes creates a huge waste problem that harms the environment.
It would be nice if we could reuse shoes already in circulation, but the reality is that used shoes are not always attractive to consumers, especially if they are lacking in quality or have already suffered significant wear. Luckily, a number of shoe brands are rising to the challenge of making shoes that are built to last and sustainable for the planet. Here are some of the most eco-friendly shoe brands worth checking out.
all the birds
San Francisco-based Allbirds takes sustainability and ethical practices seriously. The company is already 100% carbon neutral, but is striving to reduce its footprint to zero by 2030. Instead of using newly manufactured synthetic materials that take hundreds of years to decompose, Allbirds primarily uses materials derived from wool, trees, sugar and recycled. plastic bottles and nylon to make his shoes. The company is also refreshingly transparent in its sustainable practices with detailed information on its website and a goal to use 75% sustainably sourced materials by 2025. And, Allbirds supports regenerative agriculture in the cultivation of its wool, helping to restore the balance of soil and CO2 to the planet.
Everlane is another company striving to bring transparency to the production of sustainable and ethical fashion. It uses recycled plastic bottles to make many of its shoes and strives to use no new plastics in the construction of its products, with the goal of reducing the use of virgin plastic to zero. The company is 90% of the way to achieving that goal, which is impressive considering the goal was set just three years ago in 2018.
Everlane also uses 100% organic cotton, which reduces water consumption and removes chemicals from its products and the environment. He also uses recycled wool and cashmere and sources his leather from animals that aren’t raised exclusively for their skins. Plus, the leather is tanned in a more environmentally friendly process than most. In addition to its environmental initiatives, Everlane is committed to ethical factory practices and transparency. The cost of each production step is listed for each product, along with a detailed description of the materials used, giving consumers a clear window into what they are buying.
Based in San Francisco, Rothy’s has its own factory in China to ensure ethical and sustainable production practices. It uses yarn created from recycled bottles and marine plastics and has so far kept over 100 tonnes of plastics out of the waterways. Rothy’s minimizes production waste through careful manufacturing, reducing the amount of discarded materials by 30%. The great attention to design also makes the shoes machine washable and durable, underlining the importance of slow fashion that lasts for years instead of just one season.