Your old sneakers had a good run, but your toe has finally managed to puncture through the top. Before you go shopping for another pair, think about the environment. 

Almost 90% of all shoes end up in a landfill somewhere. They can take several years to break down. 

Eco friendly shoes are an exception to the rule. They’re made with materials that degrade a lot faster. Some brands will even take back your old sneakers, refurbish them, and give them to someone else. 

Want to learn more about these eco-friendly brands and why you should buy sustainable running shoes? Check out this handy fashion guide and get ready to reduce your carbon footprint. 

What Are Sustainable Shoes? 

So, what are sustainable running shoes? They’re sneakers that are made with recyclable materials and economically conscious manufacturing. 

Creating them doesn’t pump too much toxic waste into the air. The manufacturing process also doesn’t pour chemicals into the water. 

If you’re vegan, you’ll be happy to know that most sustainable shoes aren’t made with animal products. It’s all fake leather. 

What Makes a Sustainable Shoe? 

When shopping around for sustainable shoes, there are a few things that you need to look for. Focus on materials, working conditions, and durability. 


All sustainable shoe brands use recyclable materials. For example, Adidas pulls waste out of the ocean and uses it to make shoes. Not only does this recycle old materials, but it also cleans up the ocean. 

Natural fibers also fall into the recyclable materials category. Cotton, hemp, flax, eucalyptus, and wool all count because they’re renewable resources. It’s not difficult to replenish them after harvesting them. 

Some would toss leather into this category, but it’s not as good for the environment as natural fibers. The tanning process might not put out too much pollution, but it’s enough to matter. 

If you don’t feel good about buying shoes made with leather, choose vegan brands. They use pineapple leaves instead of traditional leather. It has the same look and appearance, but it’s much better for the environment.

Working Conditions 

Sustainability isn’t all about the materials that go into making shoes. Working conditions and manufacturing processes are almost as important. 

Many companies exploit workers in third-world countries. They have these employees making shoes for less than fair wages. It’s pretty much slave labor. 

Always shop from brands that boast of having fair labor practices and high-quality work conditions. 


Sustainability doesn’t equal bad quality, or rather, it shouldn’t. If the shoes you buy aren’t durable, it sort of defeats the purpose. 

When you burn through your sneakers, they’ll end up in the landfills, and you’ll have to pick up another pair. 

Benefits of Buying Sustainable Shoes

We’ve already talked a little bit about why you should buy sustainable shoes above. We’re going to go into more detail about it here. 

Less Water Consumption 

Companies that use sustainable manufacturing processes don’t put a lot of chemicals into the water supply. 

Not only that, but they also use waterless dying methods.

Reduced Garbage 

When most people buy a new pair of shoes, they toss their old ones in the garbage. After that, they’re carried off to landfills, where they sit there for years to come. 

It can take thousands of years for them to break down. That’s why companies who use old shoes to make new ones are so important. They pluck the used sneakers and heels out of the landfills and give them a new purpose. 

Fighting Back Against Animal Cruelty

Every year, billions of animals are killed to create the leather that goes into our handbags and shoes. 

A lot of sustainable companies don’t use animal leather. They either use recycled leather from other shoes (which prevents further animal cruelty) or vegan leather. 

1. Converse Renew 

Chuck Taylors have been around for years now. If you want to have that classic look without any of the guilt, buy from the Renew line. The upper canvas of the shoe is recycled water bottles. 

The bottles are ground down into tiny flakes. After that, it’s wound into yarn and weaved into the shoe. 

The foam sole uses recycled leather. Like the canvas, the shoelaces are also made with recycled plastic. 

2. Allbirds

Allbirds is a shoe brand that’s taking the internet by storm. They look amazing and they’re super comfortable to wear. They’re both breathable and durable. 

The best thing about them is their sustainability, however. The upper parts of the shoes use either eucalyptus or merino wool.

The sheep that the company gets the wool from are all ethically raised. They’re well taken care of, happy animals. 

Sugarcane makes up the soles. The laces use recycled water bottles. 

Even the packaging materials are sustainable. The cardboard that the shoes come in is recycled cardboard. 

3. Cariuma Sneakers 

Cariuma is a company that’s based in Brazil. Over 40 percent of the materials that go into their shoes are vegan. 

All the cotton they use is fair trade. They use rubber, but it’s taken from trees without doing any lasting damage to them. 

Like many brands that we’ve talked about so far, the laces, tags, and most of the upper part of the shoes are recycled water bottles. 

They use low-impact dye for the vivid colors. The leather comes from tanneries that didn’t crop up thanks to deforestation. 

The packaging that the shoes come in is recyclable. The company doesn’t use an ounce of carbon emissions to get your sneakers to you, and for every pair of shoes sold, Cariuma plants ten trees in areas that need them. 

Giving back to the environment isn’t the only reason why you should buy a pair of these sneakers. They’re cute and they’re so comfortable that you won’t want to take them off. 

4. Able 

If you’re looking for something a little more dressy, Able has you covered. They sell sneakers, but they also have a wide range of flats and heels to choose from. You can get winter boots and summer sandals from Able as well. 

The company uses a minimalist design for all its products. That doesn’t make them any less elegant. You can buy neutral-colored shoes that will go with all of your outfits. 

If you want something a little brighter, Able can fill that need too. If you buy the wrong sized shoe, the company will allow you to exchange or return them. 

As far as eco-friendliness goes, Able provides jobs for women artisans. The company also practices fair labor, and the packaging is all recyclable. 

5. Rothy’s 

The whole marketing point of Rothy’s is that they use recycled water bottles to make shoes. They grind the bottles down into flakes and press them into beads. 

From there, they use the beads to create a thread that they weave into the shoes.

Some of the sneakers have wool mixed into the plastic thread. The good news is that the wool comes from ethically-raised sheep. 

The soles are either vegan leather or rubber that doesn’t put off carbon emissions. The inner sole is also recyclable. 

The packaging is sustainable, and the company takes care of its employees. They have fair labor practices. 

They’re best known for slip-ons and flats, but you can also buy boots and sneakers from them. 

Rothy’s shoes are comfortable, durable, and easy to wash. You can toss them into the machine like you would any other shoe. 

6. Suavs

If you’re looking for durable shoes that you can wear to work, travel in, or slip on before a date, Suavs has you covered. They’re comfortable and have a lightweight design that feels good to wear. 

It’s not hard to find a pair of Sauvs that will match everything in your closet. They have a wide range of designs from sneakers to flats.

They’re so breathable that you can wear them without socks. They wick away moisture so you don’t have to worry about your feet getting sweaty. 

The outsoles are sturdy enough to handle whatever you throw at your shoes. This includes frequent weekend hiking trips. 

When it comes to sustainability, the flexible fabric is made up of recycled water bottles. 

7. Greats 

Greats put an affordable (and sustainable) spin on luxury sneakers. Where most high-end shoe brands will charge you hundreds of dollars a pop, you can get a pair of Greats for about $170. 

The upper parts of the shoes are all recycled plastic. The company removes water bottles from the oceans and weaves them into their fashion. 

The boxes that Greats come in, as well as the packaging inside, are all recyclable as well. 

8. Nisolo

Nisolo is a Nashville-based company that works with artisans in Peru. This is a company that prides itself on treating its workers well. Everyone gets paid fair wages. 

What Nisolo is best known for is leather. You can get well-crafted sneakers, boots, loafers, sandals, heels, and more. 

Most of the time, leather puts off a lot of pollution. Nisolo works with vegetable-tanned leather, though, making it much better for the environment. 

All the products the company uses to make their gorgeous lineup come from other sustainable brands. 

9. Sézane

If you need a pair of fashionable boots or clogs, Sézane has you covered. It’s a company based in Paris, France that specializes in them. 

They also have sneakers, pumps, loafers, and more. Their artisans have the pleasure of working in a safe environment. 

The company uses over 70% eco-friendly materials in all of its creations. They also use renewable energy and packing methods. 

10. Veja 

Veja makes street shoes for adults and children. They use all raw and organic materials. They make it a point to know where all the cotton and rubber that goes into their shoes come from. 

They have vegan options. Most of their shoes use recycled water bottles and materials such as fish leather for the soles. 

The manufacturing process puts off little to no pollution and saves on energy. The packaging that the shoes come in is recyclable too. 

The company employs people from marginalized groups. They’re all individuals that need a job the most. 

11. Thousand Fell 

Thousand Fell shoes are durable and completely biodegradable. The company uses materials such as castor beans, recycled rubber, recycled water bottles, and coconut husks. 

Once you’re done with your shoes, don’t toss them in the garbage. The company will take them back. They polish them up and give them to a person who needs them. 

When you send them back to the company, you’ll get a nice twenty-dollar discount on your next pair of Thousand Fell shoes. 

12. Reformation 

If you need a nice pair of shoes to wear to prom or a dinner party, you should reach for Reformations. The company makes shoes that one would wear for a special occasion. 

The brand uses sourced leather. It’s also a climate-neutral company that takes care of its employees. They provide fair wages for everyone who works for them. 

Their shoes can be a bit on the pricey side, but the money you’ll spend is worth it for the gorgeous boots and platforms the company has in its collection. 

Choosing Eco Friendly Shoes That Are Gorgeous and Good for the Environment

Before buying a new pair of shoes, think about the environment. As you can see, there are plenty of eco friendly shoes that you can buy. 

All the companies on this list use recyclable materials and manufacturing practices that are safe for the environment. Not only that, but they also take care of their employees, and their products are gorgeous. What’s not to love?

For more tips that will help you reduce your carbon footprint and look good while you do it, feel free to explore the rest of our blog.