The 14 Best Sustainable Shoes of 2022

Veja’s comfortable and versatile Marlin LT V-knit is our overall best shoe.

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The 14 Best Sustainable Shoes of 2022

Cariuma / Allbirds

Finding shoes that are both stylish and sustainable can seem overwhelming, but many footwear brands — classic and new — are now implementing eco-friendly practices and materials into their lines. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to environmentally sound footwear, but, generally speaking, prioritizing longevity, choosing recycled materials over synthetics, and supporting brands committed to non-pollutive manufacturing are good first steps.

We spoke to Kathy Kearns, sustainable fashion strategist at Third Law, about creating an eco-friendly shoe closet. “Our deepest issues have arisen from the overproduction and overconsumption of clothing,” Kearns tells Travel + Leisure. “Sustainability in fashion is about stopping the cycle. For individuals, this means buying less and investing in items you truly love and will use for a long time.”

When you do need a new pair of kicks, companies making an effort to promote circularity consumption and reduce pollution should be at the top of your list. You’ll also want to look for shoes made of less impactful materials like recycled ocean plastic or bottles. “Anything derived from oil—ahem, plastics — are the least sustainable,” Kearns adds. She suggests the fashion brand rating company Good on You as a go-to for guidance.

To help you make strategic choices when bringing in new items, we’ve curated a list of our favorite sustainable shoes. Comfort is one key factor we took into account, because wearing a pair of shoes well and often (versus the purchase that gets worn once and never sees the light of day again) is an important aspect of conscious consumerism. Our best overall sustainable shoe brand, Veja, is great for travel thanks to its comfort, versatility, and durability across the board. Whether you seek an eco-conscious casual, sporty, outdoor, or occasion shoe, read on for more brands and styles that are committed to helping us put our collective best foot forward.

These are the best sustainable shoes to shop in 2022.

Best Overall: Veja Marlin LT V-knit

Veja Marlin LT V-knit Ouro Pierre

Veja

Why We Love It: The Veja Marlin LT V-knit Ouro Pierre is a lightweight everyday travel shoe and elevated sneaker that can be dressed up or down.

What to Consider: Technically, all pairs of Veja sneakers are unisex, so pay attention to sizing.

After years of research and development, Veja has released its first eco-friendly running shoe, combining innovation with bio-based and recycled materials. Kearns is a big fan of Veja because of the versatility of the unisex sneakers, not to mention their comfort and durability. “It’s a great everyday travel shoe and elevated sneaker with a variety of color combinations and styles,” Kearns says. “They use natural materials like organic cotton and contract directly with farmers in advance of production to ensure farmer stability.” Kearns lauds Veja’s “economically equitable practices throughout their production chain,” and we appreciate how these attractive sneakers give household waste a second life.

Other raw materials employed include sugar cane, Amazonian rubber, ricinus oil, and rice waste, while recycled polyester (called Alveomesh) lends breathability, flexibility, and lightness. Veja is the rare sneaker brand that primarily uses natural materials or ones crafted entirely from recycled polyester and recycled plastic bottles. They're designed in Paris, made in Brazil, and great for globetrotting—you might not be able to leave the house without them.

Price at time of publish: $195

Material: Recycled polyester, sugarcane, Amazonian rubber, ricinus oil, rice waste, latex | Sizes: 5-10

Best for Running: Nike Air Max 90 SE

Nike Air Max 90 SE

Nike

Why We Love It: These are the beloved ‘90s-era running shoes, just updated for the 21st century with recycled canvas, insole, and laces.

What to Consider: Nike is making strides toward sustainability and circularity, but the brand’s promise that this line of shoes is made of “at least 20 percent recycled content” could be improved.

It’s always encouraging when legacy companies step up and make improvements to their sustainability practices. In recent years, this leading athletic gear brand has introduced eco-friendly materials, including recycled fibers, to its line of running shoes and more. According to Good on You, Nike implements water reduction initiatives in its supply chain and has set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as eliminate hazardous chemicals by 2025. Hence our recommendation of the comfortable, eco-conscious, and evergreen style of the Nike Air Max 90 SE. This old-school yet uniquely constructed performance running shoe is durable, extra cushy, and made with a recycled canvas upper, recycled EVA foam insole, and recycled laces. Plus, you can feel confident about both eco-friendly and ethical practices while taking your own best steps forward: Nike encourages diversity and inclusion while ensuring a living wage for its employees. Note: This shoe comes in both women’s and men’s styles, including 20 combined color designs.

Price at time of publish: $104

Material: Recycled canvas upper, recycled EVA foam insole | Sizes: 5-12

Best Slip-on: Thousand Fell Women's Slip-on

Thousand Fell WOMEN'S SLIP ON | GREEN

Thousand Fell

Why We Love It: When you’re “done” with these slip-ons, you can send them back to the company for recycling.

What to Consider: Though it gets high marks for eco-friendly materials, the brand’s labor-related practices are unclear.

Slip into your next adventure with this sustainability-focused, Brazilian footwear brand that makes super comfy everyday sneakers crafted from eco-friendly and recycled materials including coconut, rubber, sugarcane, palm, and aloe vera. Thousand Fell avoids animal-based fibers and limits chemical use along with the amount of water and wastewater involved in shoe production. The company boasts you can “live in” these “ride or die” sneakers. Breathable and durable, they are also stain- and odor-resistant, making them perfect for daily wear. Plus, the soft-touch mesh liner and cushioned insole pretty much guarantee comfort. We applaud the brand for its recycling program (just send them back when they’re worn out). This particular pair comes in 12 different heel color details, both women’s and men’s sizes, and arrives in plastic-free packaging.

Price at time of publish: $145

Material: Rubber, mesh, coconut, sugarcane, and palm | Sizes: 5.5-10

Best Sandals: Chaco Bodhi Sandals

Chaco Bodhi Sandals

Chacos

Why We Love It: Lightweight with a secure, “all grip, no slip” fit, the Bodhi is an attractive active sandal made of recycled polyester jacquard.

What to Consider: These sandals are best worn for watersports and may need some breaking in before they’re comfortable enough to walk distances.

Water-friendly and eco-friendly? Yes and yes. This Chaco sandal is made with recycled polyester jacquard, a popular synthetic fiber that’s moisture-resistant and quick-drying. As of spring 2022, the company started integrating Repreve fiber, which is created using cleaned, broken down, reprocessed, and recycled plastic bottles, into its shoes. The Z-strap design is also new compared to the brand’s more traditional hiking sandals. The Bodhi also gets high marks as beachwear and has an adjustable toe loop. Featuring a lightweight, sleek outsole that stays securely on your feet due to its molded ladder-lock buckle, this sandal is an easy-to-pack, multi-purpose vacation shoe. The brand is known for having great arch support, meaning they’re both fashionable and functional. Available in six total colors in women’s or men’s sizes, we appreciate how Chaco keeps pushing forward with a commitment to sustainability.

Price at time of publish: $100

Material: Recycled polyester jacquard, Repreve, nylon, rubber | Sizes: 5-12

Best Flats: Naot Okahu Shoe

Naot

Naot

Why We Love It: The shoe’s cork and latex footbed is covered in suede and will mold to the shape of your foot, like a handprint in the sand.

What to Consider: The sole contains polyurethane, a type of plastic—albeit one that’s eco-friendlier and less wasteful than most other kinds of plastic.

This handmade Israeli shoe brand not only boasts vegetable-tanned fine Italian leather, a cork footbed sourced in Portugal, hand-sewn Strobel construction, and recycled polyurethane to minimize environmental impact, but it also offers vegan styles and arrives in a shoe box made of recycled materials. Impressive! Naot is a new brand given high marks by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) for promoting foot health. The anatomic Okahu is a great choice for everyday wear (or dashing through an airport), as it includes a removable footbed. As mentioned, the polyurethane sole is long-lasting and better for the environment than most thermoplastic-crafted shoes. Plus, this type of plastic doesn’t create toxic soil or water. The Okahu comes in three colors: black, brown mauve, and slate grey. Whether you’re seeking a travel shoe or one for daily errands around the house or ‘hood, we tested this shoe and found it stylish, high-quality, flexible, and extremely comfortable.

Price at time of publish: $160

Material: Polyurethane | Sizes: 4-12

Best for Long Walking Days: Cariuma Catiba Pro

Cariuma Catiba Pro

Cariuma

Why We Love It: This Brazilian sneaker brand offers ultra-comfortable organic canvas, leather, and suede styles — and for every pair purchased, it plants two trees in the Brazilian rainforest to help combat deforestation.

What to Consider: These white staple sneakers resemble skater shoes, with both high and low-top styles, and have been compared to Nike Air Force 1 and the Adidas Stan Smith.

Cariuma is a sustainable footwear company based in Brazil that gets high marks from Good on You for its environmentally friendly designs and practices. Although it uses leather, Cariuma’s tanneries are audited by LWG (Leather Working Group), and its sustainability efforts extend to more eco-friendly materials including organic cotton canvas, ethically sourced rubber, bamboo, sugarcane, and more. Additionally, all the plastics used in Cariuma shoes are recycled and 65 percent of its products are all-vegan. Beyond all those Earth-friendly factors, the shoes are our top pick for long walks or jogs, walking the dog, and travel excursions when you’re on your feet for many hours at a time. The Catiba Pro sneaker “breaks in” quickly, gives great daily support, feels roomy, and is versatile enough to wear with jeans, leggings or skirts and maxi-dresses. It’s a luxury sneaker look and feel with an affordable price point, all while minimizing environmental waste, tracing its supply chain, and ensuring payment of a living wage to employees. Nearly all pairs come in equivalent men’s designs and sizes.

Price at time of publish: $139

Material: LWG-certified leather, cotton canvas, rubber, cork | Sizes: 5-13

Best Dress Shoes: Alterre Gold Lo Platform + Marilyn Strap

Alterre Gold Lo Platform + Marilyn Strap

Alterre

Why We Love It: Designed with recycled plastic and chrome-free leather, the Gold Lo Platform looks fabulous, fits well, and the detachable “Marilyn strap” makes it a versatile and vampy occasion shoe.

What to Consider: These heels come in at a higher price point than other pairs on this list, but most luxury and quality evening shoes tend toward the more expensive side.

Yes, even dress shoes can be made sustainably. We are oohing and ahhing over this disco-inspired gold platform from the lauded eco-friendly and ethically-minded brand Alterre. Crafted with soft and supple chrome-free leather from Brazil, this pair will quickly become your favorite party shoe. They’re comfortable enough to dance all night, plus the ingenious add-on Marilyn strap allows you to mix and match to create a bevy of bedazzling looks. As striking as the shoes are, so too is Alterre’s commitment to eco-conscious practices and partners. The company utilizes recycled versus virgin plastic in the majority of its heels, as well as recycled denim for shoe thread, plus it uses reclaimed deadstock (leftover) fabric, traces and reduces its carbon footprint and chemical waste, supports ocean plastic cleanup, and employs fair labor practices and wages while donating to multiple nonprofits. For those who prefer a low-heeled dress shoe, the Gold Glitter Ballet Flat is vegan, made with recycled plastic, and can also be paired with the Marilyn strap.

Price at time of publish: $225

Material: Calf leather upper, synthetic rubber sole, recycled plastic | Sizes: 6-10

Best Breathable Shoe: Allbirds Wool Dasher Mizzle

Allbirds Wool Dasher Mizzle

Allbirds

Why We Love It: Designed for all-weather breathability, this performance running shoe is made from the brand’s famous Merino wool and newly boasts a water-repellent finish.

What to Consider: Allbirds and the Dasher Mizzle shoe, in particular, are eco-friendly, but the company’s ethical labor practices are unclear.

Crafted from the soft, breathable, lightweight, and itch-free Merino wool that made the brand famous, the Allbirds Dasher Mizzle is a quality running shoe for all weather conditions thanks to its water-repellent, bio-based Puddle Guard technology. Not only does the material keep feet dry, but the traction grips also protect you from slippery streets and surfaces. We also appreciate the reflective details for visibility. This durable, flexible shoe is also carbon neutral — made from the world’s first carbon-negative green EVA (a recyclable plastic) — thanks to the company’s sustainable production initiatives, which also include using natural fibers and funding high-impact carbon projects. Allbirds has stated it plans to cut its “footprint in half by 2025…then reduce it to near zero by 2030.” In addition to the outer fabric, the sole is sugarcane-based, the outsole is FSC-certified natural rubber, and the insole foam is castor bean-oil-based. The Dasher Mizzle comes in five colors, and six for men’s designs. It’s also worth noting this popular, cozy sneaker company has more recently expanded to include eco-friendly sandals.

Price at time of publish: $145

Material: ZQ-certified Merino wool, sugarcane-based green EVA, FSC-certified natural rubber outsole | Sizes: 5 –11

Best Slides: Franco Sarto Bordo Slide Sandal

Franco Sarto Bordo Slide Sandal

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: Eco-friendly materials give this classic slide a sustainable update in 11 pretty colors.

What to Consider: Though these slides can be styled as casual or dressy, be careful about wearing them in wet weather as the leather is not water-resistant and may stain.

Comfy, stylish, and affordable with a wide range of casual and dressier styles, Franco Sarto has recently made a deeper commitment to sustainability. Using responsibly sourced eco-leather via Leather Working Group, as well as faux leather derived from recycled materials like raffia and other planet-friendly fibers, the brand gets extra greenie points for its recycled, reduced-footprint shoebox too. The Bordo comes in nine shades of leather, as well as one faux snakeskin and one multi-colored fabric slide. We appreciate the slip-on fit, open square toe, and petite, 0.59-inch heel for a slight lift, as well as its eco-conscious, soft-on-your-soles lining. Fans compare their feel to slippers and say they’re a solid travel or vacation shoe since they’re lightweight, easy to pack, and good for walking.

Price at time of publish: $99

Material: Responsibly sourced leather | Sizes: 5-10

Most Versatile: Dr. Scholl’s Rumors Block Heel Pump

Dr. Scholl’s Rumors Block Heel Pump

Dr. Scholl’s

Why We Love It: This loafer’s upper body and lining are made with ReFiber, a fabric produced from recycled plastic bottles.

What to Consider: The classic brand is making eco-friendly strides, but it is not yet transparent about labor practices or animal policies.

We’ve always appreciated Dr. Scholl’s efforts in terms of foot health and comfort, so it’s exciting that this “old school” brand is making strides on the sustainability front. The slip-on “Rumors” loafer is a must-own for its versatility — either dressed up or dressed down, the trendy square toe, metallic-studded accent strap, and 2.75-inch arch supportive block heel make this a fully functional day-to-night footwear option. Plus, the anti-microbial and anti-odor Susterra foam insole is made of 11 percent bio-based materials and has built-in arch support. The fact that this style is also shipped in a recyclable box made with biodegradable, soy-based ink is an added bonus. This loafer comes in three attractive and office-appropriate colors: black, dark brown, and burgundy.

Price at time of publish: $80

Material: ReFiber (recycled plastic bottles) | Sizes: 6 - 11

Best Rain Boot: Merry People Darcy Mid-calf Rainboot

Merry People Darcy Mid-calf Rainboot

Merry People

Why We Love It: This 100 percent waterproof gumboot is lined with 4-millimeter neoprene, making it a warm, cozy, and stylish option for rain, sleet, or snow.

What to Consider: Merry People doesn’t label itself “sustainable fashion,” but it does create vegan, long-wearing products with timeless style and high-quality construction.

Australia-based and unisex, these quality vegan gumboots are effortlessly sleek. Colorful and warm, they’re made of natural rubber and lined with neoprene. The company is female-founded with a keen sense of fashion and function, resulting in a natural fiber product that’s made for all-day wear in the city or countryside. The company traces most of its supply chain, and its animal rating is great. We liked the look and feel of the boots when we tried them on; they were snug yet flexible. Merry People is committed to minimizing waste and its environmental impact. The company carefully monitors sales and sizes to make accurate production forecasts. Although they sometimes sell out or go into pre-orders, fewer overall shoes end up in landfills. The Darcy Mid-calf is classic in black, and we also recommend the sprightly Bobbi rainboot for kids.

Price at time of publish: $150

Material: 100 percent natural rubber and neoprene | Sizes: 6-11

Best for Hiking: Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2 Gore-tex Hiking Shoe

Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2 Gore-tex Hiking Shoe

Adidas

Why We Love It: These versatile, waterproof hiking shoes have an upper made from 50 percent recycled materials and allow for trekking through high, low, dry, or wetlands.

What to Consider: While the brand has an animal welfare policy, it does employ leather and wool in some designs.

These high-performance hiking shoes have an upper created with plastic that Adidas helped prevent from ending up in the ocean through their partnership with Parley for the Oceans. Combining a lightweight sneaker with the stability of a mid-height hiking boot, these shoes are ideal for hikes, scrambles, and climbing. They are highly cushioned, employing water-resistant Gore-Tex and an all-condition rubber grip to allow for wet trail explorations and stream crossings. The Terrex Free Hiker 2 is an attractive, highly functional outdoor shoe for women (and has a worthy men’s counterpart). T+L commerce editor Lydia Price was impressed by her pair’s supportive feel and ample cushion. “These are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned,” Price says. “The sole feels so cushioned it’s almost bouncy. I also love that the toe box is on the roomy side. And since they’re fully waterproof (they’ve kept my feet bone-dry in complete downpours), they’re one of the most convenient pairs to throw on for any outing, not just hiking.” As eco-conscious brand initiatives go, Adidas has set out to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, conducted research into the impact of microplastics, and traces much of its supply chain to the final stage of production.

Price at time of publish: $112

Material: Parley Ocean Plastic, EVA, Gore-Tex membrane, rubber outsole | Sizes: 5-11

Best Vegan Shoe: Nae Freda Black Chelsea Ankle Boot

Nae Freda Black Chelsea Ankle Boot

Nae

Why We Love It: These cool ankle boots are innovative and ethical, as well as a high-quality, breathable match of comfort and style.

What to Consider: While the label has a good overall environmental rating, its labor policies and practices are unclear.

First and foremost, we admire how this all-vegan Portuguese brand incorporates unique recycled materials and fibers, including car tires, natural cork, pineapple leaf fiber, and many more innovative fibers into its footwear designs. These beautifully crafted, classic, and durable boots have a minimalist design and are made of hypoallergenic materials. They’re breathable and antibacterial with a moisture-wicking footbed, padded with cozy EVA foam. You can wear this versatile pair of vegan leather shoes day to night — from office to park to party — as the footbed is ergonomically designed with a combination of organic cork and rubber for optimal support, stability, and comfort. You’ll feel confident wearing these timeless yet edgy modern booties with a funky, ridged chunk heel and effortless elastic slip-on-slip-off style.

Price at time of publish: $109

Material: Vegan leather made with sustainable microfibers, EVA | Sizes: 5-10

Best for Kids: Teva ReEmber Dinoster

Teva ReEmber Dinoster

Teva

Why We Love It: Made of a batch of earth-friendly, 100 percent recycled materials and water-resistant to boot, these playful dino booties are an adorable choice for petite adventurers.

What to Consider: Though its tanneries are audited by the Leather Working Group and it’s a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, Teva could make a greater effort to trace its supply chain waste and support workers.

Got a Jurassic tot? These ferocious yet eco-friendly slip-on booties are made of a long list of sustainable materials: 100 percent recycled ripstop upper, 100 percent recycled polyester microfiber lining, 50 percent recycled polyester collapsible heel, EVA sock liner, and 30 percent recycled rubber outsole to name but a few. The Regrind (granular form of recycled plastic resin) soles are also notable, making them a cozy, cushioned choice as a little kid’s everyday kicks. Whether they’re for school, the playground, bouncing around town, or relaxing at the campground, the shoes are durable, comfortable, and waterproof — three must-haves when it comes to dressing miniature humans. Though the company is committed to lessening its water usage, reducing excess packaging, and recycling shoes via its TevaForever program, it still has a way to go with its ethical initiatives, including addressing the use of animal fibers. It does use down accredited by the Responsible Down Standard and claims to source wool from non-mulesed sheep, but there is room for improvement. Still, the ReEmber Dinoster is a fun shoe choice for children (and their parents!) who dig planet Earth.

Price at time of publish: $60

Material: Recycled ripstop, recycled polyester microfiber lining and heel, EVA sock liner, recycled rubber | Sizes: 8-13

Tips for Buying Sustainable Shoes

Start with a game plan

A multitude of factors goes into evaluating the sustainability of a particular shoe or footwear brand. Kearns tells T+L that it can be difficult to boil down, but there are a few practices that consumers can focus on to help them make better choices. First and foremost, keep your wardrobe — shoes included — organized and make good use of what you already own before buying anew. Once you’ve identified a key staple that is “missing” or in need of replacing, be aware of your individual style and comfort preferences instead of purchasing the next trendy pair you see. As noted above, Kearns recommends Good on You’s brand directory as one of the best rating systems for clothing and shoes. Good on You takes into account public data across all certifications, indexes, and company reports, supplying a detailed aggregate overview of sustainable and ethical practices.

Additionally, buying quality shoes from a local consignment store or a “pre-loved” pair online are great options, and a growing number of brands now include circular marketplaces (see: Allbirds ReRun) or a built-in recycling program (see: Thousand Fell). Finally, Kearns recommends taking good care of your shoes and keeping them in use for as long as possible, “either by you or subsequent owners.” Maintenance may include visits to your local cobbler, dyeing leather shoes a new color (tip: try nontoxic black Rit dye), or simply cleaning them and using insoles (think: Arm & Hammer Soft Step) to extend the life of your shoes.

Look for biodegradable, recycled, and ethically sourced fabrics

When considering sustainable footwear fabrics, there are a variety of factors to look for in terms of overall environmental impact. These include how the source crop material is grown, the production process that transforms the crop into fabric, if the material is synthetic, and whether it’s made from a recycled product, such as ocean plastic or recycled plastic bottles, instead of creating a new “virgin” fabric. Since shoemaking often involves water waste, chemical pollution, microplastic pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, worker treatment, and wage issues, as well as contributing to already heaping levels of landfill waste, choosing brands that are committed to clean production practices and biodegradable, recycled, and/or ethically sourced fibers is a worthwhile individual sustainable shopping goal.

Investigate a brand’s labor practices

Kearns encourages shoppers to do their own homework by visiting company websites and seeking out sustainability information. If you want to go deeper, she recommends looking for things like the fair treatment of workers and transparency in waste reduction efforts across the supply chain. Once again, she recommends Good on You as a good resource for discovering details about a brand’s labor practices, noting the app’s rating system is incredibly thorough. Look for a company’s “People” rating, which assesses the impact it has on workers throughout the supply chain, including policies and practices regarding child labor, worker safety, union rights, gender equality, diversity, and fair living wages. Good on You helps provide the latest updates about worker empowerment, supplier relationships, and whether the company has policies that protect workers from public health impacts, such as Covid.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What makes shoes sustainable?

    The most sustainable materials are ones that already exist, so the shoes you currently own or those sold secondhand are more eco-friendly than newly made ones. “This is because there is no manufacturing process that needs to take place,” Kearns explains. “When shopping for new items, you want to look at how materials were sourced, manufactured, and produced.” Sustainable brands are typically transparent brands, providing information about their practices on the company’s website. “They are honest about where they are in the process to embed more sustainable practices into their business,” Kearns says.

  • What are the most sustainable materials?

    Some eco-friendly materials include plant fibers like cotton, rubber, and hemp, ideally organic or recycled. “Animal fibers are up for debate,” Kearns tells T+L. “But responsibly sourced wool and recycled leather can be great options. A number of vegan leathers have popped up made from apple, cactus, mushrooms and much more, which can be good replacements for animal leather, however, they may not be as durable in some cases.” 


    Here’s a brief list of more common sustainable materials:

    • Plant materials: cotton, hemp, bamboo, linen, cork, rubber, ramie, nettle
    • Animal fibers: leather, wool, silk 
    • Artificial materials: Made from natural raw fibers, these fabrics are created with chemical processes that may impact the environment. They include viscose (or rayon), lyocell, modal, cupro, seaweed, and agricultural waste byproducts such as fruit and vegetable leathers (pineapple, apple, orange, cactus, mango, grape, coffee, and mushroom).
    • Recycled synthetic materials: “Virgin” fibers that don’t exist in nature, such as polyester and nylon, are the least sustainable because they’re derived from petroleum. However, recycled plastics, including recycled nylon and recycled polyester, are considered sustainable because they are produced in a closed loop, thus preventing plastic waste from polluting our waters, oceans, and adding to landfills.


  • Are sustainable shoes more expensive?

    As far as new shoes go, Kearns says they may be more expensive, generally speaking, if the brand is investing in high-quality materials and paying workers a fair wage. And that’s a good thing! In most cases, sustainable shoes fall in a relatively affordable mid-level price range. Fortunately, many established footwear companies are beginning to catch up on this front, while a new generation of shoe brands are walking the eco-walk and not just talking the eco-talk. Our favorite overall brand on this list, Veja, has a no-advertising policy, thus keeping shoe prices on par with big brands. Still, the company is able to pay more for fair trade and organic raw materials.


    “We don’t have a single vision of sustainability, but instead, we embrace all possible paths and follow every avenue,” says Sebastien Kopp, co-founder of our best overall sustainable shoe choice, Veja. “Seventy percent of the cost of sneakers from major brands is advertising … we’ve eliminated ads, marketing costs, brand ambassadors, and billboards. This allows us to invest in our production, our team, raw materials, and factories. While Veja sneakers are five times more expensive to produce, they cost the same price as other brands.”


    Young designers like Kopp are not only passionate about the concept of sustainability, but they’re also doing the work of seeking out sustainable materials, innovative fibers, and experimental business models while implementing ethical and Earth-friendly practices.


    Finally, keep in mind when purchasing shoes via a resale platform, pairs that are lightly worn or like-new can usually be found for a reduced price. We also recommend doing your homework on brands with built-in recycling programs and circular resale markets.

Why Trust Travel+Leisure

​​T+L writer Saryn Chorney used her personal experience, professional expertise, and tester’s recommendations to research and select the best sustainable shoes. She has a Master of Arts degree in Animal Studies, within the Environmental Studies department at New York University. Here, she used her eco-conscious fashion, lifestyle, and travel knowledge to curate a list of footwear brands to fit every “green” traveler’s activity plans and budget.


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