Opt For Footwear with a Cleaner Footprint in These Eco-Friendly Styles
Globally, producing apparel accounts for as much as 10% of our carbon footprint, even more than the airline industry. The garment industry also uses massive amounts of water in manufacturing, resulting in wastewater contaminated with harmful chemicals. Despite the high environmental cost to produce clothing and shoes, most items are not recycled or reused. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Footwear brands are making it easier than ever to find shoes that are good for the planet and good-looking, too! By creating shoes from recycled materials and renewable fabrics and by recycling used products, shoe manufacturers are making sustainable footwear more accessible than ever. By choosing to buy eco-friendly shoes, you can help generate the benefits of greener, more ethical manufacturing, while reducing the pollution we put out into the world.
What are Sustainable Shoes?
No single company or governmental entity regulates unified criteria on what makes a shoe sustainable. Footwear brands, manufacturers, and retailers often use the terms “eco-friendly,” “sustainable,” and “green” interchangeably to describe any shoe made in such a way to minimize the environmental and ethical impact of that product.
In identifying sustainable shoes, we are considering all products meeting one or more of the following criteria:
• Made with recycled materials
• Composed of naturally occurring, renewable fibers
• 100% Vegan construction
• Created with manufacturing processes that minimize carbon emissions and/or other industrial waste
• Initiatives that offset the carbon footprint or other ecosystem impacts of the manufacturing process
Shoes Made from Recycled Materials
Plastic water bottles are made of a recyclable material called polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a form of polyester. When recycled PET is spun into fibers, this lightweight and durable material can then be used to create sustainable fabrics. You might even be wearing recycled water bottles right now!
While many brands are turning recycled plastics into stylish shoes, some are doing even more with recycled footwear lines. For every pair sold, the Blowfish 4Earth collection donates a dollar to Oceana, a non-profit that cleans plastic from our oceans. Similarly, Earth Origins has partnered with Trees For The Future to plant a tree every time you buy a pair of their shoes.
Eco-Friendly Sneakers from adidas
You might already be walking on recycled plastics, but are you running in them too?
adidas is taking steps in making your workout a little better for the planet with Primegreen and Primeblue. Primegreen shoes are made with a series of high-performance recycled materials. Primeblue products are part of adidas’s partnership with Parley to repurpose plastic waste while cleaning the oceans.
Just by rocking your adidas shoes, you are helping to preserve Earth’s limited resources through repurposing materials we have on hand. Shoes like the Racer TR21 and Cloudfoam Pure 2.0 are a fashion-forward investment for you and your family’s style, but also an investment for their future.
Vegan Shoes and Boots
A vegan is a person who does not eat any food derived from animals and who does not use any other animal products. Likewise, vegan shoes do not include animal products, such as leather, suede, animal fur, wool, silk, or animal-sourced shoe glues.
The best alternatives to animal products are synthetic leather and renewable materials like cork, cotton, and bamboo. By using these alternatives, you can help support cruelty-free practices and potentially reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.
One of our favorite cruelty-free styles for fall is the Timberland Ashwood Park Chukka. This boot switches out leather for alternative materials made from wood fibers and recycled cotton for durable comfort while delivering the quality you expect from Timberland.
By choosing vegan footwear, you’ll be supporting positive change when you’re slipping into your new favorite shoes.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? Tips to Extend the Life of Your Shoes
By making smarter consumer decisions, any shoe can be a little more sustainable. While the traditional refrain of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” may not ring true for footwear, you can help the planet by making the shoes you love last longer.
You may have heard the saying, “Buy Once, Buy Well.” Choosing timeless quality footwear possibly reduces the frequency with which you need to buy more shoes. By only buying shoes you love, you’re also reducing the number of shoes that find their way to a landfill.
Even if it costs more upfront, investing in a quality pair of shoes you love will likely save you money in the long run. You’re happy, and your wallet is, too. Talk about a win-win!
Sandals fans, rejoice! Chaco has launched a program called ReChaco, where you can ship your shoes in for repairs and replacement parts once they’ve been well-traveled and well-loved. If your favorite shoes can be repaired and renewed, you don’t have to go out and buy another pair – saving your dollars and Mother Earth’s resources.
Opting for leather? With proper care, genuine leather shoes can last for many years. Swing by your neighborhood Shoe Carnival for leather care products like shoe polish and more. If the soles wear out or you can’t restore your shoes at home, try reaching out to a cobbler in your local community. These shoe repair professionals can often fix leather and suede footwear.
Have a pair of gently used shoes you don’t love anymore? Another way to extend the life of your shoes is to do a shoe swap. If you have a family member, a friend, or a peer with whom you share size, you could trade your shoes with one another. If not, you can donate or consign them. There are plenty of programs and places that would gladly accept your gently used shoes; local schools, churches, thrift stores, and Facebook market groups are great places to start!
While you cannot drop your shoes in your single-stream recycling bin, some brands provide customers with ways to recycle your used shoes. The shoes on your feet right now can also be granted another life, like with Teva’s sustainable initiative, Teva Forever. Teva is giving new life to old soles by accepting worn Teva sandals and taking their recyclable materials to transform them into products. Nike, adidas, and many others are exploring similar initiatives.
Have a pair of boots, sneakers, or dress shoes beyond repair that isn’t recyclable? Hole-y shoes make fun planters for succulents, pansies, and cacti. If the old shoes are not water-permeable, carefully drill or punch a few holes for adequate drainage.
Today’s Choices, Tomorrow’s Results
Sustainability is the future, and top footwear companies are making strides to manufacture shoes in a greener manner. By supporting this initiative with your purchasing decisions, you help promote a cleaner, healthier world.
Save money and save the Earth! Browse the Shoe Carnival eco-friendly collection to find your new favorite sustainable kicks.
All items in stock as of time of publication.