Did you know that more than 23 billion pairs of shoes are produced each year? That’s like three pairs of shoes per person in the world! Sadly, more than 300 million pairs of shoes end up in the landfill each year, and the average shoe takes 30 to 40 years to decompose. Fortunately, some brands are starting to make more eco-friendly sneakers and running shoes that will boost your performance while protecting the environment.
Here are my top pics for ethical running shoes and sneakers that are better for the earth and will leave you feeling accomplished.
My Favorite Brands To Shop For Eco-Friendly And Plastic Free Sneakers
Good News truly lives up to its name by bringing good news to the shoe industry in the form of sustainable options. They use recycled rubber to create their soles, organic cotton, and other recyclable materials to reduce their carbon output and reduce their processes. They also donate their deadstock to refugees in need to prevent unsold inventory from going into the landfill.
Allbirds’ goal is to completely eliminate their carbon footprint. By nature, an Allbirds shoe manufacturing produces about 5 kg less carbon than the average shoe, but they want to do more. From running shoes to everyday wear, they use all-natural materials in their production, including wool and recycled cardboard, to keep items out of the trash.
The only 100% compostable sneaker, Waes is doing big things for sustainability. They have an entire collection of zero-waste sneakers, each of which is made using sustainable materials and organic processes. They also offer free shipping and returns so you can shop with confidence.
Etiko’s line of vegan shoes is every bit as fashionable as they are ethical. They work with certified fair trade suppliers and have high standards for the partnerships they create. In addition to manufacturing ethical running shoes (and other sports gear), they’re also focused on human rights. They pay fair wages that help to lift their workers out of poverty and create a better life for themselves and their families.
Native Shoes are as down to earth as they come. Their plant-based shoe is a true engineering marvel, using components from pineapple, linen, kenaf, lactae hevea, and cotton. They’re also active proponents of shoe recycling. They are working on a program that will allow them to manage the entire life cycle of every pair of Native Shoes.
Reebok might not be the first name to come to mind when you think of eco-friendly sneakers, but the design team has produced a plastic-free shoe that’s both comfortable and visually appealing. Made from cotton and corn (yes, corn!), the Cotton + Corn shoe is the first-ever shoe that’s at least 75% certified by the USDA. It’s super comfy and will make you feel confident about what you’re wearing. The company has admitted that the shoes aren’t as sustainable as they possibly could be, due to the process it takes to break them down after use, but they are a big step in the right direction. One item of note: the shoe is available as a unisex option, so pay close attention to sizing to get the right fit.