8 Best Eco-Friendly Shoes to Buy for Men & Women in 2020

eco friendly feature image

Need a little help navigating the complicated world of eco friendly shoes?

You’re not alone. But we’re here to help!

Eco friendly fashion in general is a murky world of terminology such as ‘sustainable’, ‘vegan’, ‘ethical’, ‘natural’, and ‘conscious’ among others.

That’s a lot to take in when all you’re looking for is a great quality, fashionable, and long-lasting pair of kicks that are good for you and the environment.

So, how does a consumer cut through the noise and find eco friendly shoes and brands worth supporting?

Well, with guides like these of course. We’re passionate about living a zero waste lifestyle by making eco friendly decisions about everything from our choice of grocery store to our choice of fashion, and we carefully reviewed these shoes to give you a variety of options to suit your lifestyle choices.

Keep reading for a head-start in the right direction because we’re going to give you 8 of the best eco-friendly shoes to buy for men and women, as well as our top list of eco friendly shoe brands.

Eco-friendly shoes for men

Etnies Jameson 2 Eco

Eco-friendly shoes
Image via Zappos.com

‘Buy a shoe, plant a tree’ – that should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the Etnies ethical shoe brand. The Jameson 2 Eco is one of their best-sellers and is a fantastic skate shoe that works hard on a skateboard, but looks as fashionable as a casual canvas shoe.

Most reviewers commented on the great fit and comfort, making it a great choice for those who are looking for a comfy, fuss-free, shoe that still looks great.

What makes it an eco friendly choice?

  • Made with recycled materials such as plastic and rubber, as well as vegan material.
  • For every pair of Jameson 2 Eco shoes sold, Etnies plants a tree as part of the Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree Reforestation Project which has contributed to over 1.8 million trees being planted.

Note: Take at least 2 weeks to properly break them in as they do have a bit of stiffness in the beginning, but it’s worth it. This shoe will last for ages.

Zappos rating: 4/5

Price: Usually $60.00, but you can score these $42.99 on sale!

Adidas Outdoor Terrex Two Parley

Adidas Outdoor Terrex Two Parley
Image via Zappos.com

Performance meets comfort with the Outdoor Terrex Two Parley from Adidas. This running shoe features a breathable inner lining, Primeknit uppers, and a reinforced toe bumper for lightweight support and protection. We also like the fact that the Terrex Two just looks so good!

Note: The shoe has a built in sock-like inner for extra support, but this can be a little tight for the first few wears. Allow sufficient time to break them in before you hit the long trails.

What makes it an eco friendly choice?

  • As part of their collaboration with Parley, these running shoes are made using yarn from Parley Ocean Plastic which is recycled plastic collected from beaches.

Zappos Rating: 5/5

Price: $125.00

“…it’s time to start thinking more about sustainability and how we can all make small changes to benefit the environment. Firstly, as consumers we should be buying less, and buying smarter.”

runnersworld.com

Chaco Z/Volv

Chaco Z/Volv
Image via Zappos.com

This is one of the most popular eco friendly sandals around. With its unique contoured arch support, it’s no surprise that this incredibly comfortable sandal has been awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association).

The adjustable webbing straps make the Chaco Z/Volv an even more comfortable fit because you can customise it just the way you want.

Why is this an eco friendly choice?

  • Outsoles are made from ‘Eco-Tread’ which is their own compound of recycled rubber.
  • Chaco offers a great repair service called ReChaco so that you can continue to enjoy the shoes for much longer, therefore reducing waste.

Zappos Rating: 5/5

Price: $99.95

Pair those eco friendly shoes with ethical clothing brands for a more eco conscious wardrobe this season.

Eco Friendly Women’s Shoes

Kamik Olivia Boots

Kamik Olivia Boots
Image via Zappos.com

This might just be the perfect pair of rain boots!

The Kamik Olivia boot features a 100% synthetic rubber upper, a removable footbed, and funky coloured outsoles. These stylish eco friendly rain boots are handcrafted and made without any animal materials, making it a great choice for a guilt-free purchase.

What makes it an eco friendly choice?

  • Vegan-friendly construction using only synthetic rubber.
  • 100% Recyclable. In fact, you can send your boots back to Kamik to be recycled when you no longer need them, so they avoid the landfill and go straight back into their production process.
  • Liners are made out of recycled materials such as plastic bottles.
  • Made in a zero waste factory.

Zappos Rating: 4/5

Price: $44.95

 

Veja V-10

Veja V-10 Eco-Friendly Shoes

This is the perfect pair of sneakers to run around in, and they look great with just about any casual or athleisure wear.

Veja is a very popular sustainable shoe brand, known around the world, so if you’re finding it hard to get an eco friendly option when browsing online, look for the Veja brand.

Trivia: If the brand sounds a little familiar, you might’ve seen them on the feet of none other than Meghan Markle who wore a pair of Veja Esplar Sneakers during a trip to Australia!

Why are these an eco friendly choice?

  • Veja is a certified B corp and uses only leather sourced from the Leather Working Group (LWG).
  • Linings and insoles are made with organic cotton.
  • Soles are made with wild rubber sourced in Brazil where the shoes are made (lower carbon footprint from source to factory).
  • Uppers are coated with resin made from corn waste.

Zappos rating: 4/5

Price: $150

JambU JBU Bamboo

Jambu JBU Bamboo
Image via Zappos.com

These adorable Mary Janes are also very affordable, making it a great option when you’re watching your budget.

Unlike many other eco friendly shoes, the JBU range from Jambu & Co provides both style and comfort, we loved the intricate floral design and great the fit of these shoes.

The Jambu JBU Bamboo eco friendly shoe is also APMA-approved, meaning that it has received a seal of acceptance from the American Podiatrist Medical Association, so you can rest assured that they’ve been reviewed by the experts!

What makes these an eco friendly choice?

  • Use of partially recycled rubber in the outer soles.
  • 100% vegan construction.
  • Use of Microban antimicrobial treatment to prevent stains and odours so you’re less likely to dispose of your shoes as often as you do with others that become discoloured.

Note: The cut might run a bit wide, so consider taking a smaller size of your feet are a little narrow.

Zappos rating: 4/5

Price: $64.50

Birkenstock London

Eco-friendly shoes
Image via Zappos.com

There’s nothing like a good pair of well-worn Birkenstocks and the London shoe has everything you love about the brand. Expect premium leather and wool, suede lining, high quality heels and soles, and an anatomically correct cork footbed.

We love the minimalist look and the variety of uppers available such as patent leather, suede, or oiled leather in various natural shades.

Some people might not like the typical look of these shoes, but we highly recommend the Birkenstock London for those who rate comfort and arch support high on their list when it comes to shopping for a great pair of shoes.

What makes these an eco friendly choice?

  • Made with natural materials and recycled materials.
  • The cork footbed is made from 100% renewable, sustainable cork.
  • Made to last. These shoes will take the place of several fast fashion short-term wears and will give you years of comfort and durability in just one pair.

Note: These shoes should not be left out in direct sunlight or exposed to extreme heat to avoid damaging the cork footbeds. But, other than that, you’re good to go.

Zappos rating: 4/5

Price: $169.95

Dr. Martens 1490 Cherry Red Cambridge Brush Vegan Boots

Dr Martens
Image via Zappos.com

You can’t go wrong with an iconic pair of these cherry red Dr. Martens. And best of all? They’re 100% Vegan. Featuring man-made synthetic leather uppers, Airwair air-cushioned outer soles, and a cushioned footbed; you can expect both style and comfort in these eye-catching boots.

If you’re looking for a pair eco friendly shoes to match a stand-out personality and unique style, the Dr. Martens 1490 is calling your name!

What makes these an eco friendly choice?

  • Made with 100% vegan methods and materials.
  • A great option for a zero-waste lifestyle as these are made to last a long time.
  • A timeless design means that you’ll also not feel the urge to buy fast fashion brands, and opt for an iconic boot that has stood the test of time.
  • The synthetic leather is easier to maintain than leather, so you don’t have to use additional cleaning products.

Note: The look and feel of synthetic leather does take a little while to break in and get used to, don?t expect it to be an exact alternative to real leather, but it?s a really worthwhile decision to go cruelty-free with your next pair of shoes.

Zappos rating: 4/5

Price: $112.50

If you are looking for an eco friendly, water repellent and sealant for your shoes – check out our beeswax guide here for DIY guides.

Shopping Eco Friendly Shoe Brands

Eco friendliness covers quite a broad range of factors and we believe that you should be able to make the choice that suits your lifestyle. So whether you prefer vegan-only shoes, natural and sustainable leather or if recycling is at the top of your list; there’s always an eco conscious choice that you can make.

To be honest, it can be difficult to find eco friendly shoes that tick ALL the boxes, but the manufacturing process is changing and we’re excited to see more and more brands choosing this route.

Other Eco Friendly Shoe Brands We Love

Apart from our top 8 list for men and women, we’ve included our other favourite eco friendly shoe brands here, so you can continue your conscious shopping journey by discovering some new names and exploring established brands who are making an effort to change.

Timberland

That’s right! Timberland’s famous rugged boots also feature a eco friendly range with laces that are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.

Sorel

This eco friendly shoe brand is big on social and environmental responsibility. Their famous boots feature responsibly sourced down feathers, recycled materials, and faux fur.

Dr. Scholl’s

Comfort is key with this brand. We really like their range of sneakers and casual shoes that are certified sustainable. Their sneakers are made from recycled plastic bottles, sustainably-sourced leather from LWG (Leather Working Group), and 100% cotton.

Sanuk

The puffy boots, yoga sandals and casual loafers are loved by local surfers and artists alike for their dedication to protecting the coastlines around California. Their offices are LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and their shoes are made with responsibly-sourced cotton, hemp and other plant-based materials.

PS: It’s quite easy to search for the criteria of shoe that you prefer on Zappos by the way. Their filters are great and allows you to really pin-point the ideal type of shoe for you. All you need to do to pick your style such as heels, loafers, flats etc, then scroll down to the ‘features’ section and choose from filters such as:

  • Vegan
  • Handmade
  • Recycled material
  • Sustainably certified

Resources:

Sustainable shoe brands taking a walk on the eco side: https://eluxemagazine.com/fashion/sustainable-shoe-brands/

Five pairs of eco friendly footwear: https://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-fashion/5-pairs-eco-friendly-footwear.html

Sustainable alternatives: Dr. Martens: https://indiegetup.com/vegan-boots-sustainable-alternatives-dr-martens/

 

“I’ve starred in a lot of science fiction movies and let me tell you something, climate change is not science fiction. This is a battle in the real world and it is impacting us right now”.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
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