The Best Ways To Find Sustainable Footwear

The Best Ways to Find Sustainable Footwear

Most of us are more environmentally conscious these days, and in many cases it's gotten easier to uphold that consciousness while shopping. For example, energy-efficient LED lightbulbs were a novelty 10 or 15 years ago; now you see more of them than the alternatives. But the sustainability movement in fashion (which is responsible for 10% of the planet’s carbon emissions each year) is still materializing –– and in footwear it’s still quite new.

So how can you find sustainable shoes & sneakers?

Learn what makes a sustainable shoe.

The manufacturing process certainly comes into play where sustainability in footwear is concerned, and materials are just as important. And learning what materials are used will give you the knowledge to make informed decisions about shopping for sustainable apparel.

One of our favorite resources, EcoWorld, details a comprehensive list of ethical materials used in the production of shoes and sneakers. The traditional process of producing footwear has typically involved heavy use of materials with high environmental costs. But thislist reveals that alternative options such as cork, fish skins, hemp, mushrooms, and even apples are now being used to create much more sustainable fabrics with which designers are choosing for accessories like handbags and footwear. Once you have these materials in mind, you can better assess your options to ensure responsible purchasing.

Follow sneaker influencers & communities

To keep up to date with the latest information and remain accurately informed, following sustainable fashion influencers on social media and joining like-minded communities online are great ways to stay in the loop. On the influencer front, you never know exactly what you're going to get, but rest assured there are people involved who will share any and all news on relevant footwear –– which will help you to learn right away when new sustainable options are being released.

As for joining like-minded communities, this is a new(-ish) trend by which groups of sneaker lovers are getting together on what are effectively their own social networks. The SoleSavy brand has established their model in this space by setting up a virtual gathering place for any and all people interested in sneakers (and to some extent footwear more broadly). Community discussion forums have a multitude of knowledgeable members, who effectively serve a similar role to that of influencers. They'll clue you in to any new information on the sustainable footwear front.

Learn what brands are known for sustainability

There are more and more companies emerging that offer responsibly produced, eco-friendly footwear. To give a prominent example you may have heard of (particularly if you listen to podcast ads) Cariuma, who set a great example as the first ever skate shoe brand to be B-corp certified. This is essentially a recognition of environmental performance, and helps to set an important standard for popular sneakers.

Employing similar ethics and production processes, Thousand Fell sneakers are recyclable and made from vegan, sustainable materials like corn waste, coconut husk, and recycled bottles. Alongside this contribution to the environment, they and many other brands offer store credits for the return of used and unwanted footwear; as roughly 97% of shoes end up in landfills, this initiative goes some way toward reducing that number by seeing the shoes refurbished and gifted to people in need.

Many have also introduced a “giving back” program, pledging revenue percentages to non-profit organizations that are making sustainable changes or contributing towards reforestation. A simple internet search can provide you with a generous selection of brands that choose to employ good practices and in return offer valuable initiatives to make sustainable shopping a more empowering experience –– and most importantly, take better care of the planet.


There’s an awful lot to learn and discover about sustainability in the fashion industry, and we hope this was informative and useful for those considering more conscious shopping habits with regard to shoes. As sustainability continues to become a bigger part of the footwear and fashion industries, we’ll do our best to share any meaningful developments or intriguing brands here at Dooeys.