Go Eco Recommends: The Most Sustainable Shoes

Shoe production shares issues with fast-fashion, with products often manufactured cheaply, worn for a short amount of time and thrown into landfill, fuelling a linear and wasteful economy. As well as being wasteful, a lot of shoe manufacturing involves harmful chemicals like chromium, a tanning agent that is toxic and accumulates in fish when it leaks into waterways.

We recommend looking for shoes which will last longer and, when the time comes, recycling them rather than throwing them into landfill. This may involve a bit of investment and research on materials used (organic cotton and Piñatex over plastic and cheap rubber for example), but fear not as we’ve compiled a list of eco-friendly shoe makers for you to shop with.

Our Top Picks….

VEJA

Company: Veja’s commitment to the environment is demonstrated by their complete transparency about how their products are made. Any cotton is certified organic and bought directly from farmers to ensure it is sustainably sourced. Veja are also keen upcyclers and are the first trainer brand to use fabric made entirely from plastic water bottles: B-mesh.

Other eco-friendly fabrics used by Veja include Hexamesh, composed of 70% organic cotton and 30% recycled plastic bottles; J-mesh created using a blend of jute, recycled cotton and recycled PET; and recycled polyester.

Product: Veja offer a huge range of fashionable trainers in classic and more modern styles. They are easily recognisable by their signature ‘V’ on the side of the trainers, and for the fitness freaks out there we’re recommending their recent line of running shoes. A pair of Veja’s will generally cost between £105 and £150 – with cheaper canvas options at £75.

Allbirds

Company: As a certified B Corp you can feel confident that Allbirds have sustainability at the centre of what they do. The company follows the principles of measure, reduce, offset. They combine the materials, manufacturing, product use and end of life to calculate each product’s footprint and put it on display as the first step towards reducing it. Allbirds are working hard to drive emissions down to zero and eventually hope to be carbon-negative. However, until they can do so they tax themselves for the carbon they do emit by investing in offsets.

Product: Allbirds focus on running shoes, however they also provide more casual trainers and slip-ons. They have three main running shoe styles: the Wool Dasher Mizzles, which are weather-ready running shoes with extra grip; the Tree Dashers, which are supportive and breathable for your everyday runs; and the Tree Runner SWT’s, which boast durable design to handle off-road terrains and trails. The running shoes come in at around £130 a pair.

NAE

Company: NAE stands for ‘No Animal Exploitation’. The brand make animal-friendly shoes that also say no to human exploitation and environmental degradation too. All of NAE’s goods are made in Portugal, to reduce their carbon footprint for European buyers, meaning its manufacturing process that really cuts down on transport emissions.

What we most admire about NAE is their sourcing of innovative eco-friendly fabrics like Piñatex, a natural fibre-based material made from pineapple leaves, usually discarded during the harvesting process. Organic cotton harvested from fields which are regularly rotated for soil health also features widely in their designs, as well as cork (which actually has a negative carbon footprint), and recycled PET.

Product: NAE has wide range of lines, and whether you’re looking for walking boots, sandals for summer or smart shoes for the office, they have it all. We really recommend their fashion-forward unisex designs for a practical and stylish shoe. Most pairs come in at £40 – £100 a pop, making NAE good to your wallet too.

We do our best to research and find the most environmentally-friendly companies to recommend at GoEco. However, if you have any suggestions that we might not know of, or disagree with any of our recommendations, please get in contact: hello@goeco.co.uk. We always want to learn more about the companies with the potential to save our future

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