8 Top Trending Sustainable Shoes

Sustainable shoes are an indispensable part of creating a more ethical wardrobe and there are lots of brands working hard to make it easier for us to find more ethical, more sustainable, beautifully designed shoes for the minimalists, maximalists, and everything in between.

That’s why we’ve lined up some of the best sustainable shoe brands on this list. But we also want to help you make better decisions for yourself. So before we jump into the great list of brands we’ve put together, let’s have a look at what to keep in mind when shopping for better more eco-friendly shoes with a lighter footprint.

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Looking to buy sustainable shoes, here’s what you need to know: 

When looking to buy more sustainable and ethical garments in general — from swimwear, t-shirts, and jeans, to sweaters, coats, and winter boots — we consider 4 main criteria. They are fabrics and materials, ethical sourcing, corporate responsibility, and inclusivity. 

The fabric and materials: this plays a critical role in what makes a given product more sustainable. Rather than synthetics, plastics, and pesticide-filled raw materials, we look for things like organic cotton, hemp, jute, ethical leather, ethical wool, recycled PET or Nylon (which is better than virgin materials), faux leather (like Pinatex and apple leather made from fruits rather than polyurethane aka plastics), as well as other innovative materials with a lighter footprint

We also give preference to products made with materials and fabrics that are certified by a third party to verify organic, recycled, ethical, or otherwise more ethical and sustainable claims. Certifications can be very costly for brands, inhibiting them from going through the process so we do keep that in mind too. 

Ethical sourcing: here we consider how the materials and products are made and where they come from. Do workers receive fair wages and are their working conditions safe and fair? What about the factories themselves? Do they operate sustainably and ethically? Are they certified by any third-party certifications like  WRAP, Fair Labor Association, Fair Trade, BSCI, ETI, GOTS, ILO, ISO 14001, SMETA, or SA8000?

Corporate responsibility: brands that go the extra mile are always at the top of our list so we also look at what more brands are doing in terms of packaging, environmental initiatives, charitable works, and the like. Net zero or carbon-neutral brands are fantastic, and the B Corp certification is a good indicator of more sustainable values and practices. 

Inclusivity: we are all about inclusivity here at The Eco Hub and it is indispensable for creating a more sustainable present and future for all of us. Here, it will look like size inclusivity so we make sure to note size ranges to make it easier to find the right sustainable shoes for you!

If you would like to get rid of some old shoes, there are also plenty of good ideas for what to do with old shoes so do consider that before resorting to the landfill. Both I and the planet will thank you! 

Our top picks for the best sustainable and ethical shoes

As always we recommend checking out the secondary market here too! Despite popular concerns, shoes are sanitized before being sold so if this is something you are comfortable with we’d definitely recommend browsing some online thrift stores

1. Rothy’s

2 women modelling sustainable shoes from Rothy's.   Pin
Image: Rothy's

Rothy’s is super well known for their women’s flats and shoes and for good reason. But this brand is also one of the best options if you are looking for ethical vegan shoes and more inclusive sizing. Their selection is available in a ton of different colors and can be chucked into the washing machine for easy cleaning. 

You will find options for women, men, and kids here too. For women (sizes US 5 - 13) you will find flats sneakers and boots, along with other goodies. A great option in ethical brands for men (sizes US 7 - 16), you will find loafers, boots, and sneakers. And for kids (sizes US 1 - 13)  some adorable loafers and sneakers. 

Rothy’s — fabrics and materials

Materials used include recycled PET bottles, natural rubber, and Strobel board (an algae-based foam) for the insoles. Some of their styles also include natural minerals (aka sand), hemp fiber, merino wool, a bio-based TPU derived from corn, and bio-based PU derived from castor oil.

Rothy’s — ethical sourcing

Rothy’s owns and operates a sustainable factory in Dongguan, China to make its products and touts “best-in-class factory benefits and a wellness-focused workshop environment”. The factory is LEED-certified and TRUE-certified which speaks to green building practices and zero waste practices. 

Rothy’s — corporate responsibility

For packaging, Rothy’s uses 95% post-consumer recycled materials, 100% recycled cardboard inserts, and ribbons made from recycled materials. The brand has also launched a recycling pilot program as they work toward greater circularity. 

Price Range: $$$-$$$$

2. VEERAH

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Image: VEERAH

VEERAH is a mission-driven designer vegan shoe brand you want to wear. It is made for warriors killin’ it with kindness. Luxuriously crafted using responsibly sourced and cruelty-free materials, VEERAH's guiding principle and design philosophy are to “Do Good + Look Incredible.” VEERAH proves that style and sustainability can coexist. Their lovely selection includes the ultimate city boot (pictured above), flats, pumps, mules, sandals, and bridal options, all available in a number of color options. You can also pair them with accessories that can be purchased separately to multiply your looks with one pair of shoes. Sizes range from 5 to 11.

VEERAH— fabrics and materials

Veerah has been a real pioneer in the eco-shoe space. Not only do they use innovative materials in the production of its shoes -  Apple leather, Renewed Plastic Textile, and Algae Foam Cushion - they also test out new materials to achieve the highest quality and most eco-friendly end product. 

They work closely with all of their manufacturing partners who are “always exceedingly patient and supportive of our vision of what sustainable luxury should look and feel like, and brave enough to try new ways of making shoes.” 

Shoes require specific material characteristics to ensure their durability and breathability. When it comes to dress shoes, there isn’t a 100% bio-based, biodegradable material in the market to satisfy its specific characteristics. However, they are excited and encouraged to see new emerging innovations with bio-based and recycled content, and a reduction in the usage of petroleum, energy, and water. While they don’t have the perfect solution just yet, they remain committed to minimizing their fashion footprint and strive to improve every day!

VEERAH — ethical sourcing

They source the latest innovative, sustainable materials all around the world, and the shoes are crafted by skilled artisans in Taiwan and China. The VEERAH team spends a tremendous amount of time on the factory grounds to manage product quality, working conditions, and relationships with the workers.

Manufacturers and suppliers comply with all of the national and local labor laws and environmental regulations to ensure that all of their workers are paid above a living wage.

They build trust and fortify that with transparency. This way, they know exactly where VEERAH components come from and how they came to be.

Through this continuous process, they are able to create a well-rounded supply chain that fulfills its vision and meets its shared values.

VEERAH — corporate responsibility

As a public benefit corporation and a female-led organization, they support causes that are aligned with their values and echo the message that companies can be instruments of positive change. They pledge their commitment to give back to their community and they do this with their 1-10-100 Action Plan.

1: At least 1% of revenue goes directly to social impact causes.

10: 10 paid hours per quarter are offered to our employees for volunteering or taking self-improvement courses so that we can grow together. 
100: For every 100 customer feedback surveys we receive, VEERAH sponsors a one-year scholarship for a She’s the First girl scholar.

Use code VEERAHXTHEECOHUB for 10% off.

3. Able

A woman modelling sustainable shoes from Able. Pin
Image: ABLE

A women-run company, ABLE started out selling handwoven scarves made by women in Ethiopia who were leaving the commercial sex industry. ABLE’s goal was to offer these women sustainable employment, and in doing so help them and their families create a better future. 

With the support of loyal customers, the brand has grown in its mission to empower women, as well as in its product offering. You will find handmade jewelry, apparel, denim, quality leather goods, and shoes of course — including sneakers, sandals, boots, flats, and heels. Sizes range from US 5 - 11. 

ABLE — fabrics and materials

All of the leather used in their products is sourced from discarded animal hides that would have otherwise gone to waste. Other materials used include rubber, metal, and cotton though more information is needed on where these materials are sourced. 

ABLE — ethical sourcing

ABLE is committed to empowering women and investing in them. 90% of their staff is made up of women and they make sure to partner with vendors who share their values. 

The brand also invests in women across its supply chain. They are transparent about their wages and ensure that every woman who works at ABLE has a living wage, as well as 100% paid healthcare, ownership in the company, maternity coverage, a flexible work schedule, and even infertility and adoption assistance. 

For their leather, the ABLE design team and their leather partners work together to make the most of the materials available to minimize waste, including deadstock and scraps. Their partners also work to reduce water consumption by using 100% recycled, closed-loop water systems. 

ABLE — corporate responsibility

ABLE guarantees all of its products for life which is definitely a good sign. The brand also offers a size swap program where they will exchange selected styles if your size changes. Find 100% recyclable packaging and tags here too. 

Price Range: $-$$$

4. Nisolo

A man and a woman sitting on a fountain wearing sustainable shoes from Nisolo.  Pin
Image: Nisolo

With a clear commitment to sustainability, you will find lots of great designs and shoe options at Nisolo including sandals, flats + slip-ons, boots, oxfords + loafers, heels, sneakers, and mules. Sizes range from US 4 - 11 for women. 

If you are looking for sustainable shoes for men this is a great place to look as well. Find sandals + slip-ons, boots + chukkas, oxfords + loafers, as well as sneakers. Sizes range from US 8 - 13. 

Nisolo — fabrics and materials

Nisolo does not use any oil-based materials or synthetics like polyester in their primary raw materials unless they are recycled and recyclable at their end of life. Much of their products are made from leather, with a majority of them coming from LWG Certified tanneries.

Nisolo — ethical sourcing

Nisolo defines sustainability as 100% Living Wages, best in class Health & Safety measures as well as Governance & Worker’s Rights, Gender Equality & Empowerment, Healthcare & Benefits, and Racial Justice. For them, sustainability also means working toward 0% Net Carbon, best-in-class measures in Raw Materials Integrity, Process & Manufacturing, Packaging & Distribution, and Circularity & Post Use Product Lifecycle. It’s clear that they know what they are talking about. But what are they doing about it? 

At present Nisolo pays every worker in their 1st Tier factories 100% Living Wages. Tier 1 factories are the factories that they work with directly, and they are working to do the same with Tiers 2-4 (further down in their supply chain). The brand is also super transparent, sharing data on their lowest wages, raw materials, partner factories, and much more. 

To make their shoes and accessories, the brand partners with 4 factories located in Peru, and Mexico, where they ensure fair and ethical working conditions. All of these factories were selected based on health & safety systems, also having undergone independent audits, with some having recurring audits. 

Nisolo also promises a minimum of healthcare benefits, paid time off, social security contributions, and financial bonuses at all of their factories. 

Nisolo — corporate responsibility

A Certified B Corporation, Nisolo is also Climate Neutral Certified. They offer a shoe reclamation program where worn and used shoes can be donated in partnership with Soles4Souls. Most of their packaging comes from recycled corrugated cardboard and is fully recyclable. 

Price Range: $$ - $$$$

5. Darzah

a close up 2 pairs of Darzah sustainable shoes. Pin
Image: Darzah

Based in Palestine, Darzah is an ethical, not-for-profit footwear brand totally worth considering on the hunt for sustainable and ethical shoes. They specialize in authentic, handmade Palestinian products including home decor, bags, accessories, and shoes. 

Find beautifully designed mules, boots, sneakers, flats, oxfords, and sandals — all embroidered using a centuries-old Palestinian embroidering practice called Tatreez. Sizes range from US 6 - 10. 

Darzah — fabrics and materials

Their shoes are made from leather, rubber, and embroidery. Their flats and boots feature a soft leather insole and lining, as well as a leather and rubber outsole. The leather used in their products is locally sourced from a family-run leather manufacturer based in Al-Khalil (Hebron). 

Darzah — ethical sourcing

Darzah’s shoes are handmade by women in Palestine, and the brand is fair trade certified by the Fair Trade Federation. This speaks to optimal working conditions, living wages, and other ethical labor practices. On average, workers receive 60% higher wages than the average corporate salary in the West Bank. 

Darzah — corporate responsibility

Darzah is a 501(c)3 non-profit social enterprise, and 80% of every dollar spent with Darzah goes directly toward long-term employment opportunities for women in Palestine. It is a project of Child’s Cup Full, which also created Zeki Learning, a brand with a similar purpose, focused on creating educational children’s toys

Price range: $$$$

6. The Root Collective

A flat lay of sustainable shoes from The Root Collective. Pin
Image: The Root Collective

Bethany Tran founded The Root Collective out of a sense of responsibility to make a contribution to bettering our world. The brand sets out to “change the world through a business where we are being kind to people and the environment by ethically making only what we need”.

To do this, The Root Collective partners with artisans in Guatemala, bringing much-needed employment opportunities to the communities they work with. 

Here you will find flats, sneakers, boots, sandals, heels, as well as bags, and men's boots. You can also shop by lifestyle which is such a clever idea. Options include: “working woman”, “playground chic”, “night out”, and “wanderlust”. Sizes range from US 5 - 11 for women.

The Root Collective — fabrics and materials

Materials used include leather, cotton, EVA, and rubber. Fabrics used for both shoes and bags are handwoven by one or two cooperatives with which they partner, though more information is needed on the materials used. 

The Root Collective — ethical sourcing

To make their handmade products, The Root Collective partners with small, independent workshops where they feel they can have the most impact. As part of their commitment to impact and alleviating poverty, The Root Collective ensures that all producers involved in the making of their products receive fair trade wages for the work they do. Depending on the work and skill, wages are 50-400% above the Fair Wage minimum in Guatemala. 

The Root Collective — corporate responsibility

The Root Collective’s responsible manufacturing model is a big selling point. Embracing slow fashion, they produce only what they need in order to avoid contributing to all of the waste associated with the unsold common garments. How it works is, that the brand either releases collections with just a limited number of items available to ship— or they open up preorders for a limited time. This is super awesome and a big step toward greater accountability and sustainability. 

Price Range: $$-$$$$

7. Deux Mains (Reclaim Collective)

A flat lay of sustainable shoes from Deux Maine. Pin
Image: Deux Maine

Deux Mains is a fashion-forward brand focused on offering truly meaningful choices. With a commitment to fairness and better practices all around, here you will shoes, bags, accessories, and more, inspired by and manufactured in Haiti. Their footwear collection boasts a beautiful selection of sandals. Sizes range from US 6 - 11. 

Deux Mains — fabrics and materials

Materials used include leather and recycled rubber from the inner tube of old tires that make up part of the sole of their sandals.

Deux Mains — ethical sourcing

Deux Mains ensures living wages, health insurance, and access to education for its Haitian artisans. And their factory is solar-powered and run by women. 

Deux Mains — corporate responsibility

In partnership with EcoCart, Deux Mains offers the option to offset the carbon emissions associated with the entire order — from production to manufacturing, to shipping. The carbon associated with these orders is offset by investing in projects like McCloud River Conservation and Brazil Compost.

Price Range: $$

8. Stella McCartney

A model in a red suit and brown boots from Stella McCartney. Pin

This iconic fashion brand makes for a great option as far ethical shoe brands go. And you can rest assured that their selection doesn’t include any leather, fur, feathers, skin, or anything derived from animals. Find espadrilles, sandals, wedges, sneakers, boots, flats & clogs. Sizes range from US 4.5 - 10.5. 

Stella McCartney — fabrics and materials

Materials and fabrics used include 100% recycled polyester vegan leather and recycled industrial waste. The brand is also PVC-free and banned the use of mohair. 

Stella McCartney — ethical sourcing

In terms of sourcing Stella McCartney focuses on sourcing materials and fabrics that are responsibly sourced and produced ethically. They also ensure that workers are treated fairly across their supply chain.

Stella McCartney — corporate responsibility

Stella McCartney has taken several steps toward greater sustainability across the board. They banned plastic water bottles from their offices back in 2012. For packaging, all certified sustainable paper, and cardboard. They’ve also joined the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) which focuses on tackling complex global supply chain challenges and improving the lives of workers worldwide. 

Price Range: $$$$

Why shop for sustainable shoes?

Just like the estimated 80 - 150 billion garments produced and sold every year — quite a lot of shoes are manufactured every year too - more than 20 billion pairs to be exact

This translates to a lot of unsustainable manufacturing practices from an industry that is notoriously dirty and unethical. In other words a lot of chemicals, plastics, pollution, and waste from start to finish. There is also the issue of unethical working conditions and forced labor. 

Not to mention that most of our garments and shoes (from fast fashion to high-end brands) are not designed to last. Where shoes in particular could be repairable. Instead, they go on to contribute to a ton of waste. On top of our unsustainable consumption patterns and the millions of shoes sent to landfills every year, or say the casual incineration of unsold stock.

Mindfully reaching for more sustainable shoes goes a long way in helping to address these issues, while reducing our carbon footprint.

A final word on sustainable and ethical shoes

Though, finding more sustainable and ethical shoes may require a little more effort it’s actually never been easier with online shopping options now at our fingertips. 

So, if you are feeling a little fatigued or overwhelmed as you look for sustainable swaps we totally feel you. Just remember that sustainable living is a process so don’t be too hard on yourself! Take things one step at a time and relish in the little victories when you do finally find that perfect sustainable eco friendly watch you’ve been looking for or the perfect rainboots in just the shade you wanted.

There are even lots of lovely eco friendly ethical sandals out there. If you are not getting perfect, we love you for trying anyway, and if you are looking for anything more just drop the brand directory for everything from home decor to sustainable men’s clothing and plastic free zero waste essentials. If you found this post helpful, please help someone by sharing this article – help me to help others 🙂!

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Image: Rothy's
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