We all do our best to recycle — but can we protect the environment through the shoes we wear? The answer is yes. A variety of footwear brands are using fashion for good, utilizing sustainable manufacturing processes and contributing to various environmental causes. Below, see 10 of our favorite eco-friendly labels.
1. The People’s Movement
The California-based shoe brand is focused on reducing single-use plastic. But how? It creates its designs by pairing eco-conscious materials with up-cycled plastic bags. The label also supports organizations like 5 Gyres, which focuses on reducing plastics pollution.
The People’s Movement sneaker, $59; The People’s Movement
2. Brother Vellies
Aurora James creates her shoes in Kenya and South Africa. Many of the designer’s classic styles are made using Kudu leather, “an animal byproduct resulting from a government-mandated culling due to overpopulation.” She also uses vegetable dying instead of chemical dyes, and uses recycled materials such as repurposed tires for soles.
Brother Vellies Zanzibar sandal, $315; Net-a-porter
In 2010, Timberland made a commitment to plant 5 million trees in five years in Haiti, a project aimed at reversing its declining tree population (it achieved its goal in 2015). Last year, the brand also partnered with Pur Project, promising to plant a tree in Transylvania for every pair of kids’ shoes sold.
Timberland 6-Inch Premium boot, $200; Timberland
4. El Naturalista
The comfort brand has a series of chrome-free shoes, which reduces the consumption of electricity, water, gas and chemicals as well as CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The label also offers vegan footwear.
El Naturalista perforated sneaker, $188; El Naturalista
Cool, minimal kicks? Check. Sustainable? Check. The sneaker brand uses innovative, eco-friendly materials in its sneaker styles, such as fair-trade cotton and B-Mesh, a textile made from recycled plastic bottles.
Veja low-top sneaker, $155; Veja
Adidas recently unveiled three new sneakers that are made using marine plastic debris. On May 10, it will release Parley for the Oceans-assisted iterations of the Ultra Boost, Ultra Boost X and Ultra Boost Uncaged.
7. Earth Shoes
On April 28, EarthShoes.com is committing 100 percent of all website proceeds to its partner, Trees for the Future. The initiative is in honor of Arbor Day, which encourages the planting and care of trees.
Earth Shoes perforated bootie, $150; Earth Shoes
8. Stella McCartney
The designer creates her collections using sustainable and ethically sourced materials. McCartney also released an Environmental Profit and Loss Account in 2015, documenting the negative and positive impacts her company had on the environment. “Fashion is an industry that makes a significant impact on the planet. It’s not just cool clothes and trends,” she said in a release. “Every single day, myself and my entire team are challenging ourselves and the industry: What can we do better?”
Stella McCartney platform sandal, $1,140; Stella McCartney
The sustainable brand supports workers’ rights in sub-Saharan Africa. Its main tannery uses a chrome recycling system, and its leathers — which are free-range and hormone-free — are sourced in Ethiopia.
Oliberte suede boot, $140; Zappos
Canada-based brand Native produces its shoes through a low-emission process. The styles are made with vegan materials and are both REACH and CPSIA certified.
Native perforated sneaker, $50; Zappos
To shop the shoes, click through the gallery.
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