Ultimate Guide: Eco Friendly Trainers & Shoes

We’ve put together this ultimate guide to eco friendly trainers & shoes so that when the day comes that you must throw away your old footwear, you’ll be doing so with sustainable footwear that isn’t going to harm the environment. We all know that a good shoe is a timeless investment. And while we’re not normally ones to advocate spending too much money on regular footwear, there are certain shoes that will last you a very long time if you’re willing to shell out the funds for them. In fact, some of these pairs may even outlast your child! Plus, buying high-quality shoes from trusted brands means they won’t fall apart after only a few wears or have to go through extra processes in order to be recycled at the end of their life cycle.

What is a sustainable shoe?

Sustainably made shoes are those that use materials and practices with a lighter environmental impact. Some brands even plant one tree for every pair of shoes purchased, states Jessica Pinaki, Certified Wellness Coach for Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Company.

This is an important factor to consider when looking at your next shoe purchase. Obviously, most pairs of shoes aren’t going to be vegan or eco-friendly because leather and animal skin will still be used in the construction process. However, choosing footwear that has been created by companies that take steps to reduce their carbon footprint can make a huge difference in the long run.

A few tips before you shop

There are several factors to look out for when seeking out sustainable shoes, according to Pinaki. Some brands, for example, have an eye toward detail and craftsmanship rather than going with a cheap material that will tear or fall apart quickly.

You should also consider the materials being used. Leather is a popular choice, but you can find quality footwear in a plethora of different options such as suede, canvas, and synthetic fibers. In fact, some vegan sneaker companies are even making faux leather from recycled products! You can also check if your favorite brand offers organic cotton styles designed for both men and women.

Another way to ensure you’re buying responsibly-sourced shoes is by looking at the company’s practices. Does it provide fair wages and safe working conditions? What about oversight in the supply chain? Do they have a charitable component or partner with another organization to give back? If they’re not supporting environmental sustainability, that’s typically a sign that their business is not sustainable.

What makes a shoe sustainable?

Sustainable shoe materials:

Leather is typically not a sustainable choice because it comes from the skin of animals that are often mistreated. However, companies that offer quality leather options, like Vegetarian Shoes, still adhere to strict guidelines when it comes to their products.

Natural fibers:

When it comes to conventional footwear, the three most common shoe materials are typically leather, synthetic fibers (often a type of plastic), and rubber. Synthetic soles are petroleum-based, but companies like TOMS have perfected their methods for making shoes that contain more plant-derived than petroleum-derived components. Canvas is another great option because it’s made from 100% cotton, which isn’t as taxing on the environment as other fabrics.

Repurposed materials:

This is another example of how companies are trying to reduce their environmental impact. Unused, unlabeled, or discontinued materials like this can be repurposed into something that’s still fully functional.

Transparent working conditions:

Working conditions are a huge factor in business today. Just because a company is sustainable doesn’t mean it treats its employees well or they follow the law when it comes to labor practices. If a brand isn’t forthcoming about its working conditions, that might be a red flag.

Eliminate plastic from the shoe:

This is another way that companies are trying to go green. While plastic has its benefits, it isn’t very biodegradable. Removing the single-use material from your shoes can help reduce ocean pollution and landfills around the world.

Make a sneaker range that can compete on the high street:

The best way to make a shoe that’s sustainable is by marketing it as the most comfortable, functional, and versatile option. If you can create sneakers that are stylish yet eco-friendly, customers will be more inclined to buy your products.

Manufacture the shoes in a certified ethical factory:

One of the most powerful ways to ensure your shoes are sustainable is by manufacturing them in a factory that has fair working conditions, offers quality products, and creates exceptional customer relationships. If you can do this, it will be very difficult for your competition to keep up.

Use fashion to create a positive social impact:

This goes hand in hand with “Eliminate plastic from the shoe.” But, if you can create a fashion trend that aligns with your company’s values and it reduces waste, and creates community, there’s a good chance you will be able to see success in the long term.

Help businesses combat climate change:

This is a new development in the business world. Companies are realizing that if they don’t take climate change seriously, it can hurt their bottom line. Helping companies reduce their carbon footprint and transition to renewable energy sources will help them thrive during uncertain times.

Environmentally-friendly production process:

One way to tell how sustainable a company is is by looking at its production process. Do they use recycled materials, organic components, or recyclable products? This goes for the entire process, not just in the manufacturing stage.

Use eco-friendly packaging:

Eco-packaging is another emerging trend in the business community today. It’s important when it comes to marketing your product and when customers are considering purchasing something they need to know that you care about their planet too.

How much do sustainable shoes cost?

When it comes to the cost of sustainable shoes, they are typically more expensive than your average shoe made with synthetic materials. This is another reason why marketing is so important. If you’re able to showcase how sustainable shoes are better for both the planet and your wallet, you can win over a lot of customers who will want to buy your products.

Best sustainable trainers for men:

CLAE Bradley Vegan Sneakers:

This is another great example of how companies are trying to eliminate single-use plastics from their shoes. Not only do these sneakers look stylish, but they’re also made with recycled materials so they can be more eco-friendly too.

SAYE Black Modelo ’89 Sneakers:

These sneakers are made from 95% recycled materials, including the sole. They’ve even got a padded tongue and collar, so wearing them is incredibly comfortable too.

Uniform Standard Triple Carbon Suede Series 4 Sneakers:

These sneakers are made with suede, which is an incredibly sustainable material. They use cotton strings instead of cotton so they can be more eco-friendly too.

ETQ Amsterdam Court LT 01 Vegea Sneakers:

These sneakers are made with the most sustainable materials possible. They use vegetable-tanned leather, recycled polyamide (made from recycled Nylon 6), and Vibram outsoles which are made of 70% reclaimed rubber.

Comovita Vegan Court Sneaker:

This sneaker is made from sustainable materials, including a ¼ wedge of d2w rubber. It’s got a full-grain vegetable-tanned leather upper and a biodegradable cork insole which make it one of the most eco-friendly options on the market today.

Veja SDU Rec Alves Mesh Sneakers:

These sneakers are made with 100% organic cotton and the sole is made from wild rubber. They’re extremely sustainable because there isn’t a single piece of synthetic material in them.

Yatay Neven High Sneakers:

These high-tops are made with aloe, which is a material made from 100% recycled water bottles. They use organic cotton laces and they’re vegan, so no animals were harmed in the making of these shoes.

How to clean sneakers:

Now that you know about all of the different sustainable sneakers and trainers on the market today, it’s time to talk about how to keep them looking as good as new.

If you have white shoes:

One thing you can do is put black shoe polish on your sneakers to make them look fresh again. Of course, you want to make sure there isn’t a single speck of dirt left on them before doing this. You also need to remember that this will only work if the shoes are made from fabric instead of suede or leather because those materials won’t take kindly to polishing.

For suede shoes:

You don’t want water getting anywhere near these types of shoes because it will damage them. However, it’s also important to make sure you can get all of the dirt and grime off your suede sneakers before wearing them again. Use a dry brush and gently brush away any dirt or dust.

For leather shoes:

Again, you don’t want moisture anywhere near these types of shoes because that will ruin them as well. Once you’ve cleaned them as much as possible with a dry cloth, give them a quick polish with some black shoe polish if they need it. Then, just let the shoes air out overnight so they can be ready for use in the morning without causing damage.

Final Thought:

Sustainable sneakers and trainers are becoming more popular because people want to be environmentally responsible. The good news is you can find plenty of stylish, eco-friendly options for any budget these days.

When it comes down to it, sustainable shoes aren’t just great for the environment because they don’t pollute the planet like other materials do. They’re also better for your wallet too, which makes them a win-win option in every single way.

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I'm just your average guy with an appreciation for above average goods. My goal is to introduce you to products that will see you through thick and thin, and then some.

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