As more and more companies are beginning to worry about the climate crisis, the fashion industry is taking a look at itself to see how it can improve, too. While helping the environment is no easy task, companies can do plenty to lower their damage to our planet. Whether it’s making materials out of recycled plastic, or even purchasing carbon offsets for every product shipped, shoe companies in particular are taking leaps and bounds towards a more climate-conscious industry.
While no shoe can be truly eco-friendly since they all use some sort of material, certain brands are trying to reduce their environmental impact. Big names like Adidas and Reebok have sustainable options, and newer environmentally-friendly companies such as Allbirds, Cariuma and Rothy’s are getting more and more popular. There are tons of brands out there making a lot of eco-friendly claims, so to help narrow it down we’ve scoured the internet to find our favorite shoes that are trying to save the planet. Check out our list below for some of the comfiest, most stylish and of course most sustainable shoes out there.
Rothy’s approach to sustainability lies in its manufacturing. Instead of using virgin and wasteful materials, the shoe company has committed to creating the woven uppers of its shoes out of recycled water bottles. At the time of publication, Rothy’s website says it has diverted over 50 million plastic water bottles that would have normally gone to a landfill.
To turn water bottles into shoes, Rothy’s takes little flakes from single-use plastic bottles, presses those flakes into little beads, then transforms the beads into threads. Some models have a mix of this water bottle thread with merino wool, which is humanely harvested and crafted at a sustainable Italian mill.
Rothy’s doesn’t stop its sustainability there. The outer soles are made from either carbon-free rubber or vegan leather. The inner sole is also created with recycled foam, this time out of bio-based castor oil and other recycled materials. If you’re interested in shoes using alternative materials, check out some of our favorites from Rothy’s below.
Maritime Navy Point ($145; rothys.com)
The Rothy’s pointed flat comes in 19 colors, and its comfy yet sophisticated silhouette is great for the office or a day around town.
Cornflower Flat ($165; rothys.com)
A more casual flat, these shoes made from bottles come in 11 colors and, like all Rothy’s shoes, are machine washable.
Bright White Chelsea ($145; rothys.com)
An eco-friendly take on the classic Chelsea boot, this comfy shoe is super light and the best for all-day adventures.
Cariuma prides itself on sourcing its raw materials extremely responsibly, and even has detailed descriptions of where each material comes from on its website. Cariuma ensures all its cotton is fair-trade, its rubber is tapped from trees without harming them and any and all leather the company uses meets strict standards. Plus, the brand uses recycled plastic bottles to make the laces, labels, uppers and threads of its shoes.
Cariuma carries on its commitment to reducing its environmental impact even after the shoe is made. It makes sure to package the shoes in materials that are 100% recycled and recyclable. Its packaging suppliers are all certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a non-profit that sets standards for responsible forest management. Cariuma puts the environment high on its priority list, and even plants two trees in the Brazilian Rainforest for every pair of shoes sold.
Many of these shoe brands are packaged in more or less sustainable materials (nothing is worse than researching the most eco-friendly shoes for them to show up wrapped in plastic!), but one thing Cariuma does that many other brands don’t is purchase carbon offsets for every single shoe it ships. That means the shipping and transportation of all Cariuma products is 100% carbon neutral. Take a little environmental dread off your shoulders and check out some Cariuma shoes below.
Men’s Oca Low White Canvas ($79; cariuma.com)
These low-cut sneakers are super light and the clean-cut, casual look can match any outfit.
Women’s Ibi Mineral Blue Knit ($98; cariuma.com)
An everyday shoe like this has never been so sustainable. With a bamboo upper the Ibi’s are super breezy and cozy.
Women’s Catiba Pro ($89; cariuma.com)
These stylish and durable skate shoes are crafted with a sticky grip outsole made from raw natural gum rubber and memory foam interior so your feet will stay comfy and supported in any situation, whether it’s a night out or a hardcore skating sesh.
Everlane is one of our favorite sustainable clothing brands, with a wide selection of stylishly sustainable shoes and sneakers. The brand has two models of sneakers, the Trainer and the Court. Both are made from full-grain leather from a tannery that is Gold Certified from the Leather Working Group. The sole consists of a blend of natural and recycled rubber that’s 94.2% free of virgin plastic, with a lining made from 100% recycled polyester. The shipping of the sneakers is also 100% neutral due to carbon offsets through Everlane’s partnership with NativeEnergy.
Aside from sneakers, Everlane makes tons of other fancier shoes for women including heels, loafers, boots and more. While the brand’s sustainable shoe options are impressive, its transparency is even more impressive. No matter the shoe (or product for that matter), you can easily click to a page with details about the factory it was made in. You can then determine if the products are up to your own standards. Below are some of our favorite picks from Everlane we think you’ll love.
The Court Sneaker ($98; everlane.com)
With a pair of versatile leather sneakers like these, you’ll never have to worry about what shoes to pair with your outfit. Plus, Everlane works hard to make these some of the lowest-impact sneakers on the market.
The Glove Boot ReKnit ($155; everlane.com)
Primarily made from recycled polyester, this boot has the perfect amount of stretch so you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style.
The Day Loafer ($155; everlane.com)
The classic-looking loafer is an easy slip-on made of 100% Italian leather. A cushioned insole ensures it stays comfortable no matter what you do and where you go.
Nisolo is one of the most transparent shoe brands we’ve found. Its website has the entire company’s impact report, detailing its supply chain and the treatment of its workers. While its materials are all sourced sustainably, much of the website lays out statistics on how its workers are treated, and for good reason. At the Nisolo-owned factory in Trujilo, Peru, 100% of the team in the factory is Peruvian. On average those workers experience a 47% increase in earnings from their last jobs and for those who have been there three years or more, they’ve experienced a 152% earnings increase on average.
Nisolo is also a B Corporation, a certification with a strict set of standards that looks at a company’s entire social and environmental impact. Aside from making sure all its workers are paid fair wages and using sustainable materials, Nisolo also offers an “Ethical Marketplace,” a section on its site of handpicked products from like-minded, sustainable brands. Here’s a few of our favorites from Nisolo’s handcrafted shoes below.
Men’s Emilio Chukka Boot ($150; nisolo.com)
Handmade in Nisolo’s own factory, this chukka mixes comfort and style. Its sophisticated look is paired with supple and soft leather so you can wear it everyday.
Women’s Chelsea Boot ($228; nisolo.com)
Nisolo’s take on the forever-fashionable Chelsea boot is handmade in its own factory in Peru and features a leather tab for an easy pull-on.
Women’s Elayna Sneaker ($148; nisolo.com)
A refined version of a casual sneaker, this leather shoe is handmade at one of Nisolo’s partner factories in Mexico. Ultra-stylish and comfy, these are sure to be your new daily shoe.
We absolutely love Allbirds. The trendy, internet-famous shoes are incredibly comfortable and look great. But did you know they’re environmentally-conscious too? All the materials that go into these super cozy shoes are sustainably sourced and much better for the environment than their traditional counterparts. The merino wool, for example, comes from ethically farmed and raised sheep, because happy sheep means happy feet.
The foam in Allbirds’ soles are made from sugarcane, the laces from recycled bottles and even the eyelets are constructed from bio-TPU, a microorganism that eats plant sugars. For the shoes not made of other materials, Allbirds uses fibers responsibly taken from eucalyptus trees. The company is also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council so there’s no need to worry about deforestation when buying these cozy sneakers. If you want to learn more about Allbirds, read our review here, or check out some of our top picks below.
Women’s Wool Runners ($95; allbirds.com)
The brand known for making “the world’s most comfortable shoe” definitely lives up to the hype with these wool runners. So cozy you can even wear them without socks, these shoes are great for any occasion.
Women’s Wool Loungers ($95; allbirds.com)
If you want to take comfort to the next level, these loungers are a slip-on version on Allbirds’ super cozy shoe.
Women’s Tree Toppers ($115; allbirds.com)
A breezy take on the high top, these shoes are constructed with pulp from a eucalyptus tree for maximum comfort and breathability.
Veja is another shoe brand that is transparent enough to show a full look at the company’s practices here on its own website. The brand focuses on using organic, raw materials and fair trade to make high quality shoes without any shortcuts. Veja claims it costs five times more to make its shoes than traditional counterparts because of all these steps, but the end result is a beautiful shoe that’s also good for the planet.
The company is also pushing the boundaries by using alternative materials such as B-Mesh (created from plastic bottles), fish leather and more. While the company is doing many things to make its shoes friendlier for the planet, it admits there’s room for improvement. If you dig Veja’s shoes, check out a few we love below.
Veja Leather V-10 Sneakers in Neon ($150; madewell.com)
A super stylish everyday shoe, the V-10’s are one of our favorite all-around sneakers. Plus the bright orange on this model adds a nice pop of color to the traditional white shoe.
Veja V-10 Sneakers in Colorblock ($150; madewell.com)
Veja’s V-10 also comes in a Colorblock model, which features bold color combinations including an all-gold sneaker that’s sure to catch some attention.
Madewell x Veja Leather V-10 Sneakers in Polka Dot ($150; madewell.com)
We didn’t know we needed a Veja and Madewell collaboration, but we’re so happy it happened. These polka dot shoes are super cute and ready to pair with any and every outfit.
Adidas is a huge name in the shoe industry, which is why it means so much that the athletic brand is taking initiative in making eco-conscious shoes. Its Adidas x Parley collection creates shoes using plastic trash cleaned from remote beaches and coastal communities. Parley cleans plastic from polluted areas then sends the cleaned materials to Adidas where it’s formed and spun into “Ocean Plastic,” a high-performance yarn that’s used in a wide variety of shoes, shirts and tights. Each piece in the collection is made with at least 75% trash picked up from the ocean.
Ultraboost 20 SB Shoes ($180; adidas.com)
The Ultraboost is one of the most popular shoes out there. Now you can grab your go-to workout shoe in a new, more sustainable model.
SoleCourt Parley Shoes ($80, originally $160; adidas.com)
These tennis shoes are super comfortable and responsive, giving you the best performance on and off the court.
Terrex Two Parley Shoes ($88, originally $125; adidas.com)
These superlight shoes are great for long runs and their rugged sole can tackle any terrain.
Exercise brand Reebok is also getting into the environmental game with its Cotton + Corn shoe. With a 100% cotton upper and a bio-based TPU sole derived from corn, it’s the first ever 75% USDA certified biobased shoe. The insole is made from castor bean oil to increase the natural content, plus the shoes are even wrapped in 100% recycled packaging.
This shoe is a good start, and we’re excited to see where Reebok takes this sustainable technology next. Take a look at Reebok’s Earth-conscious shoe below.
NPC UK Cotton and Corn Shoes ($69.97, originally $90; reebok.com)
Sleek and stylish, Reebok’s venture into alternative materials culminates in this shoe, which comes in two colors, lavender and off-white.
You may not have heard of Icebug before, but it’s making big waves in the sustainable shoe world. The brand’s recently become the very first outdoor shoe brand to be carbon positive. Not only is Icebug reducing the amount of carbon it produces, the company also purchases additional carbon offsets to actively help the Earth.
Following the UN’s Climate Neutral Now proposition, Icebug assessed its environmental impact and decided to change. To limit its carbon emissions, Icebug has started using more recycled materials and low-impact dyes. It’s in the process of switching all its manufacturing sites to solar energy and promises to keep purchasing carbon offsets to counterbalance the rest of its emissions. Take a look at some of these outdoor, carbon positive shoes below.
Icebug Women’s Metro2 W BUGrip Winter Boot ($189.95; amazon.com)
A high-performance winter boot, these are fleece-lined for ultimate warmth and feature the year-round traction Icebug is known for.
Icebug Women’s NewRun W BUGrip Road Running Shoe ($189.95; amazon.com)
If you’re taking your runs to the snow, nothing will fare better than these super grippy running shoes perfect for laps around the neighborhood.
Icebug Women’s Wander W Michelin WIC Winter Boot ($104.96, originally $139.95; amazon.com)
Trudging through the snow never looked this good. With a Chelsea boot profile, these heavy duty winter boots are water-repellent and have a warm fleece lining ready for any snowstorm.
Toms is widely known for its buy-one-give-one program, but now the certified B Corporation is taking a step further in the direction of sustainability. Part of a new line named earthwise, Toms constructed new fabrics, dyes and insoles to make its shoes more sustainable than ever. Toms’ new fabric called “Repreve” is constructed with post-consumer plastic bottles, directly diverting plastic waste from our oceans. The earthwise canvas shoes are dyed with chemical-free plant dye derived from natural botanicals. Plus, the lining is made from Tencel Lyocell, which is a soft fiber made from wood pulp harvested from responsibly-managed forests. And the new OrthoLite insole is made with 26% earth-friendly content, mainly from recycled or plant-derived materials.
Toms claims it wants to keep improving earthwise to become more sustainable, and we’re eager to see where it takes this line. Right now, Toms’ more earth-friendly shoes are available for men, women and children in classic, low-profile designs. You can browse through the entire collection here, or peek at our favorites below.
Apricot Repreve Melange Knit Women’s Classics ft. Ortholite ($54.95; toms.com)
Made with Repreve and Ortholite, much of this shoe is constructed with recycled materials. Plus, it’s 100% vegan and equipped with elastic gore to make it easy to take on and off.
Plant Dye Yellow Canvas Women’s Espadrilles ($59.95; toms.com)
These casual slip-ons are ultra lightweight. They come in four colors — blue, gray, pink and yellow — which are all made with plant dye. Just note that since the color is natural, there may be some color variation.
Plant Dye Blue Canvas Men’s Cupsole Classics Venice Collection ($54.95; toms.com)
Also made with plant dye, these men’s slippers have a bulkier rubber sole. They’re super comfy and perfect for a stroll through the park or around town.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.