The most important item to have for your sustainable travel adventures? Shoes! They literally get you from here to there. Whether you are trekking off the beaten path in Mexico, hiking in the lush forests of Oregon, dancing the night away in Cuba, or on a relaxing date at an Eco Friendly Vineyard, you are sure to need a practical and stylish pair of sustainable shoes from any of our featured ethical shoe companies below.
Investing in a new pair of eco friendly shoes not only supports your sustainable lifestyle because of how they are made, but also because they are made to last, through fast fashion trends and your on-the-go lifestyle. From sandals to flats and boots to loafers any of these 11 brands will let you strut your stuff and not feel guilty about it!
Why buy eco friendly and sustainable shoes?
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Americans throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes each year, most of which are made from plastics and rubbers that pile up in our landfills without decomposing efficiently. We don't have to do the math for you, that’s a lot of waste.
Also, don't forget that taking good care of the pieces in your wardrobe is another sustainable practice. That means that if your favorite fair trade boots have a worn out sole, you don't have to throw them out (even if they are biodegradable) because there are many skilled cobblers who can make them feel like new again. As someone who cares about the planet, investing in high quality, environmentally friendly shoes, is a great way to wear your values.
What makes a shoe sustainable?
There are a number of types of sustainable shoes to help get you started. You can look for vegan work shoes, fair trade sandals, recycled plastic sneakers, sustainably sourced leather boots, or organic wool slippers, to name a few. There is something out there just for you! Plus, when you are done with your shoes there are plenty of brands with recycling programs that turn your old shoes into new ones!
We encourage you to do your own research as well, as there are so many eco friendly shoes out there, and there’s no better way to complete your sustainable clothing look than with a pair of shoes to match!
Based in: New Zealand/USA
Ethics: Workers’ rights, 75% sustainably sourced natural and recycled materials
Best for: The ultimate comfort sneaker
Product range: Men’s and women’s sneakers and slip-ons
Allbirds have made quite a dent in the shoe game, creating a new buzz around ethical sneakers. From treating their workers with dignity and fairness, to committing to 100% carbon neutrality, sustainability is front and center in their process. Their website charts their progress and goals and they pride themselves in being transparent about their sustainable shoes.
If you are looking for the perfect travel companion for your next adventure, a pair of Allbirds should do the trick. They have a classic, stylish look that can be worn with a modern twist of street style or used as your lightweight, ethically made running shoes.
Based In: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Ethics: 100% natural materials, Climate Neutral Certified, Workers’ rights
Best for: Comfortable wool slippers
Product Range: Men’s and women’s house slippers
Need a cozy pair of slippers for this fall/winter? Well, Kyrgies might be just what you’re looking for. Produced in only eight steps, the Kyrgie artisans use wool from the most happy, free range sheep (look up photos of Kyrgyzstan fields, you’ll see what I mean) and combine it with water, soap, leather and natural thread to create traditional house slippers for both men and women.
Kyrgies also works with other organizations such as: 1% for the Planet and One Tree Planted to continually help promote a healthier environment.
Based In: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Ethics: Circular fashion, upcycled and recycled materials, sustainably sourced leather, 100% carbon neutral, workers’ rights
Best for: Leather boots
Product Range: Women’s: boots, mules, sandals, sneakers, flats, slides, Oxfords. Men’s: boots, Oxfords, loafers, sneakers, sandals
Nisolo is the perfect place to find a range of stylish fair trade boots for both men and women. Working with artisans in Peru they have brought to market sustainably sourced leather goods that keep up with today’s trends. They also take a circular approach to their shoes by looking at their impact from beginning of life to the end. Nisolo continues to improve its process, and makes information readily available on its website for their customers to investigate.
When you are done with your Nisolo shoes, you can send them back to be donated to a program called Soles 4 Souls, which gives your used shoes to artisan cobblers who reclaim and repair them and sell them to their communities. So, you know your shoes are getting a second life where they will be valued just as much as in their first.
Based In: Portland, Oregon, USA
Ethics: One-stop-shop for brands that support values such as fair trade, made in the USA, POC owned, Earth friendly materials and production, vegan materials, and women owned businesses.
Best for: A wide variety of brands with many style options
Product Range: All shoe types for both women and men
If you are having a hard time choosing between which brands to shop, Made Trade is like a mini eco friendly department store, they choose the brands they work with for their values as well as vet them before offering their products on the Made Trade website. With a large collection of shoes that will fit into all kinds of wardrobes, Made Trade makes it easy to find your perfect pair.
While shopping on Made Trade’s website, you can filter your selection to find brands whose ethics emphasize various causes such as supporting BIPOC companies and vegan products. They have curated a selection of amazing brands who support each one.
Based In: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Ethics: Women owned and operated, sustainably sourced leather (a meat industry byproduct), 100% recycled and recyclable packaging
Best for: Women’s leather sandals and boots
Product Range: Women’s sneakers, sandals, boots, mules
If you want quality leather goods but are unsure how you feel about the leather industry, Able can ease your mind. All their leather hides are byproducts of the meat industry, which would normally be discarded and waste away in a landfill. They also use sustainable tanning practices making the leather less toxic in both its production and deconstruction. Able is completely owned and run by women! They employ, educate, and empower women around the world as a solution to end poverty in their communities.
Some people think that shopping sustainably means you can not be up to date on fashion trends and curate your unique personal style. Well, Able is here to prove them wrong. From turquoise snake print boots to polkadot mules, you can find all kinds of sustainable styles that could easily be seen in NYC fashion week.
Based In: London, England
Ethics: Family owned brand going against fast fashion, sustainably sourced cotton, and complete production transparency
Best for: Classic cuts and styles with funky twists
Product Range: Men’s and women’s sneakers, boots, sandals, flats, loafers
Boden has been in the fashion game for over 30 years and is continuously working towards bettering their processes and products for the good of the people and the planet. This includes using recycled materials, sustainable cotton, reducing their use of petroleum-based fabrics and water usage. They also pride themselves in their transparency, giving the public an inside look at their sustainable efforts on their website. Boden is known for their fun bold patterns and color combos that stand on their own against fast fashion trends.
Based In: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Ethics: Promotes healthy waterways, GOTS-certified factories
Best for: Athletic and outdoor shoes, hiking boots, and ethically made running shoes
Product Range: Men’s and Women’s hiking boots, sneakers, athletic sandals
It’s all in the name for United By Blue, bringing brands together that have one common goal, to preserve and promote a clean and healthy ocean. On their site you will find an array of outdoor shoe styles that will partner with all your sustainable camping gear. Plus, for every product purchased, United By Blue removes one pound of trash from the oceans and waterways, and has removed over 3.5 million pounds already!
Have you been looking for a way to get involved with your eco-friendly community? Well here’s the chance to put on your sustainable hiking boots and get to work. You can join United By Blue in their waterway cleanups, take a look at their website for more details!
Based In: New York City, New York, USA
Ethics: Extreme transparency, circular system, fair trade and human rights advocates, regenerative farming practices, and organic materials.
Best for: Minimalistic and comfortable Oxfords and mules
Product Range: Women’s boots, sandals, sneakers, mules, slides, slippers
You may have heard of Eileen Fisher before, she’s been around for a while (almost 40 years) and she has rarely veered from her path of making timeless clothes that fit all body types. The same can be said about her shoes. Classic styles are turned into modern masterpieces and you're bound to find a few choices that will coordinate well with your wardrobe.
Eileen Fisher works to make its production and supply chain transparent to consumers, so you know exactly where your shoes are coming from and ultimately where they will be going.
Based In: New York City, New York, USA
Ethics: recyclable and sustainably sourced materials, ethical treatment of workers, closed loop system.
Best for: The classic white sneaker
Product Range: Men’s and Women’s Sneakers
The simple, classic white sneaker is a wardrobe staple. Thousand Fell has perfected this one! With their motto being ‘one part lasting aesthetic, one part wearability, two parts sustainable’ they’ve been able to design an antimicrobial, plant based, recycled plastic, water resistant, and stain proof shoe.
Thousand Fell has also created a closed loop system for their sneakers. This means, when it’s time for a new pair of kicks, they will take back your old pair, not only recycle them for you, but also recapture as many of the materials as possible to put back into their own supply chain. For this you earn a $20 credit for your next pair!
Based In: New York City, New York, USA
Ethics: Vegan, compassionate labor practices, recycled materials
Best for: High-end women’s vegan boots
Product Range: Women’s boots, sandals, flats, heels
When you first look at Bhava’s timeless boot styles, you would be surprised to know they are 100% vegan. Their Italian vegan leathers do not contain toxic chemicals like PVC, formaldehyde, or azo-dyes, and are so soft to the touch they really don't compare to other plastic based vegan options.
These ultra lux women’s boots are not only classy and timeless but are durable too! Handcrafted by ateliers in Spain and Mumbai these boots are really a work of art that you can look good in and feel good wearing. We dare say, the perfect Fall boot!
Based In: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Ethics: Promotes human rights, fair trade certified, vegan, organic and recycled materials
Best for: Men’s and women’s retro sneakers
Product Range: Men’s, women's, and children’s sneakers
If you are a fan of old school high tops then Etiko’s sneakers are perfect for you! Plus, these are a pair that you can feel good about wearing. Made with 100% organic fairtrade cotton and recycled rubber the Etiko sneaker lives up to its name, deriving from the Greek word for ‘ethical.’
Sold in an array of colors this eco friendly sneaker will be a perfect addition to your sustainable wardrobe. They have a classic look that is never going to go out of style, meaning you will be able to pair them with your favorite jeans for a casual look or elevate them with dressier clothes for years to come!
Disclaimer: Hey reader! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase using any of these links, we'll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Hidden Lemur is committed to promoting sustainable travel, and we only partner with brands that we believe contribute positively to that cause.