9 Top Trending Sustainable Shoes
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Sustainable shoes are an indispensable part of creating a more ethical wardrobe. Many brands are 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 look at what to remember when shopping for better, more eco-friendly shoes with a lighter footprint.
Our top picks for the best sustainable and ethical shoes
- Kane Footwear
- The Root Collective
- Deux Mains (Reclaim Collective)
- Stella McCartney
Reduce your foot(print)with these sustainable 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 recommend browsing some online thrift stores.
And, at the bottom of this post, we've got some great information on how we choose these brands, what we look for, and why's it important to consider ethically made shoes.
Rothy’s is well-known for its women’s flats and shoes! 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 many 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, boots, and 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 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 to achieve greater circularity.
Price Range: $$$-$$$$
2. Kane Footwear
You will not want to take off the Kane Revive Active Recovery Shoe. They are easy to slip on and super comfy. Best of all, find lots of lovely color combinations to match your style, with something for everyone, including options for Women in sizes US 5-17 and Men in US 3-15.
To help with post-workout recovery, these shoes were designed with the help of a foot and ankle surgeon who focuses on sports injuries. They feature a 10mm heel-to-toe drop that reduces tension on the Achilles while assisting a natural stride.
The toe box is also wide to help with any post-workout swelling. A 31mm underfoot cushion absorbs shock and raised nodes on the sole stimulate the feet. The closed-heel design and contoured fit help to reduce muscle use with every step.
It all supports and stimulates recovery with noteworthy comfort and style. Worth considering for everyday wear if you are looking for something comfy and casual.
Kane Footwear - fabrics and materials
Kane’s bio-based EVA shoe is made from a plant-based foam derived from sugarcane. The hang loops are made from recycled plastic.
Kane Footwear - ethical sourcing
To make its shoes, Kane Footwear has chosen a hydroelectric manufacturing plant.
Kane Footwear - corporate responsibility
Like all of their packaging, our Kane Revive’s arrived in FSC-certified packaging. The brand is also a 1% For The Planet member, donating 1% of its proceeds to initiatives aimed at protecting the planet. The brand is also working on becoming a Certified B Corp.
Price Range: $$
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 several colors. You can also pair them with accessories 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. They use innovative materials in the production of their shoes - Apple leather, Renewed Plastic Textile, and Algae Foam Cushion - and 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 petroleum, energy, and water usage. While they don’t have the perfect solution, they remain committed to minimizing their fashion footprint and strive to improve daily!
VEERAH — ethical sourcing
They source the latest innovative, sustainable materials worldwide, and skilled artisans craft the shoes 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 national and local labor laws and environmental regulations to ensure their workers are paid above a living wage.
They build trust and fortify that with transparency. This way, they know precisely where VEERAH components come from and how they came to be.
Through this continuous process, they can 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 aligned with their values and echo the message that companies can be instruments of positive change. They pledge 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.
A women-run company, ABLE started selling handwoven scarves from women in Ethiopia who were leaving the commercial sex industry. ABLE’s goal was to offer these women sustainable employment and 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 and its product offering. You will find handmade jewelry, apparel, denim, quality leather goods, and shoes, including sneakers, sandals, boots, flats, and heels. Sizes range from US 5 - 11.
ABLE — fabrics and materials
All the leather used in their products is sourced from discarded animal hides that would otherwise have gone to waste. Other materials 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 comprises women, and they 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, 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 using 100% recycled, closed-loop water systems.
ABLE — corporate responsibility
ABLE guarantees all of its products for life which is 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: $-$$$
With a clear commitment to sustainability, you will find many great designs and shoe options at Nisolo, including sandals, flats + slip-on, 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. Find sandals + slip-on, boots + chukkas, oxfords + loafers, and 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. 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 ones 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 four factories 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 its 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: $$ - $$$$
Based in Palestine, Darzah is an ethical, not-for-profit footwear brand worth considering on the hunt for sustainable and ethical shoes. They specialize in authentic, handmade Palestinian products, including home decor, bags, accessories, and shoes.
Find beautifully designed mules, boots, sneakers, flats, oxfords, and sandals — all embroidered using a centuries-old Palestinian embroidering practice called Tatreez. Sizes range from US 6 - 10.
Darzah — fabrics and materials
Their shoes are made from leather, rubber, and embroidery. Their flats and boots feature a soft leather insole and lining, as well as a leather and rubber outsole. The leather used in their products is locally sourced from a family-run leather manufacturer based in Al-Khalil (Hebron).
Darzah — ethical sourcing
Darzah’s shoes are handmade by women in Palestine, and the brand is fair trade certified by the Fair Trade Federation. This speaks to optimal working conditions, living wages, and ethical labor practices. On average, workers receive 60% higher wages than the average corporate salary in the West Bank.
Darzah — corporate responsibility
Darzah is a 501(c)3 non-profit social enterprise, and 80% of every dollar spent with Darzah goes directly toward long-term employment opportunities for women in Palestine. It is a Child’s Cup Full project, which also created Zeki Learning, a brand with a similar purpose, focused on creating educational children’s toys.
Price range: $$$$
7. The Root Collective
Bethany Tran founded The Root Collective out of a sense of responsibility to improve our world. The brand sets out to “change the world through a business where we are being kind to people and the environment by ethically making only what we need.”
To do this, The Root Collective partners with artisans in Guatemala, bringing much-needed employment opportunities to the communities they work with.
Here you will find flats, sneakers, boots, sandals, heels, bags, and men's boots. You can also shop by lifestyle, which is such a clever idea. Options include: “working woman,” “playground chic”, “night out”, and “wanderlust.” Sizes range from US 5 - 11 for women.
The Root Collective — fabrics and materials
Materials used include leather, cotton, EVA, and rubber. Fabrics used for both shoes and bags are handwoven by one or two cooperatives with which they partner, though more information is needed on the materials used.
The Root Collective — ethical sourcing
To make their handmade products, The Root Collective partners with small, independent workshops where they feel they can have the most impact. As part of their commitment to impacting and alleviating poverty, The Root Collective ensures that all producers making their products receive fair trade wages for their work. Depending on the work and skill, wages are 50-400% above the Fair Wage minimum in Guatemala.
The Root Collective — corporate responsibility
The Root Collective’s responsible manufacturing model is a big selling point. Embracing slow fashion, they produce only what they need to avoid contributing to all of the waste associated with the unsold common garments.
How it works is that the brand either releases collections with just a limited number of items available to ship— or they open up preorders for a limited time. This is super awesome and a big step toward greater accountability and sustainability.
Price Range: $$-$$$$
8. Deux Mains (Reclaim Collective)
Deux Mains is a fashion-forward brand focused on offering truly meaningful choices. With a commitment to fairness and better practices, here you will be shoes, bags, accessories, and more, inspired by and manufactured in Haiti. Their footwear collection boasts a beautiful selection of sandals. Sizes range from US 6 - 11.
Deux Mains — fabrics and materials
Materials used include leather and recycled rubber from the inner tube of old tires that make up part of the sole of their sandals.
Deux Mains — ethical sourcing
Deux Mains ensures living wages, health insurance, and access to education for its Haitian artisans. And their factory is solar-powered and run by women.
Deux Mains — corporate responsibility
In partnership with EcoCart, Deux Mains offers the option to offset the carbon emissions associated with the entire order — from production to manufacturing to shipping. The carbon associated with these orders is offset by investing in projects like McCloud River Conservation and Brazil Compost.
Price Range: $$
9. Stella McCartney
This iconic fashion brand makes for a great option as far as 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 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 sourcing, Stella McCartney focuses on sourcing materials and fabrics 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 workers' lives worldwide.
Price Range: $$$$
Why shop for sustainable shoes?
Just like the estimated 80 - 150 billion garments produced and sold yearly — quite a lot of shoes are manufactured yearly, too - more than 20 billion pairs to be exact.
This translates to many unsustainable manufacturing practices in a notoriously dirty and unethical industry. In other words, many chemicals, plastics, pollution, and waste are 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 contribute to a ton of waste, on top of our unsustainable consumption patterns and the millions of shoes sent to landfills every year, 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.
If you are looking to buy sustainable shoes, here’s what you need to know:
We consider four main criteria when buying more sustainable and ethical garments — from swimwear, t-shirts, and jeans, to sweaters, coats, and winter boots. They are fabrics and materials, ethical sourcing, corporate responsibility, and inclusivity.
The fabric and materials are critical in making a 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, a vegan fabric, made from fruits rather than polyurethane aka plastics), as well as other innovative materials with a lighter footprint.
We also prefer products made with materials and fabrics 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 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 third-party certifications like WRAP, Fair Labor Association, Fair Trade, BSCI, ETI, GOTS, OEKO-TEX, 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 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, which is indispensable for creating a more sustainable present and future for all of us. Here, it will look like size inclusivity, so we note size ranges to make it easier to find 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!
A final word on sustainable and ethical shoes
Finding more sustainable and ethical shoes may require a bit more effort. It’s never been easier with online shopping options now at our fingertips.
So, if you feel a little fatigued or overwhelmed as you look for sustainable swaps, we 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 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.
If you want anything more, drop by 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 🙂!