Footwear is responsible for between 16% and 32% of total environmental pollution in the fashion industry. The impact of shoe manufacturing on the environment can vary depending on the material. Leather, for example, requires raw materials. Tanning can also involve toxic chemicals.
While textile-based shoes can use a lot of water to make, synthetic-based footwear is made out of plastic. When a pair or shoes has reached the end of its useful life, they usually end up in a landfill. It can take more than 1,000 years for them to decompose.
What’s the alternative? Shoes made from recycled and upcycled materials
Why should you buy recycled shoes?
Did you know that 300 million pairs are discarded each year in the UK? Additionally, footwear made of mixed materials such as metals, plastics, and leather is more difficult to recycle.
Some synthetic materials can take more than 1,000 years to be disposed of in landfills. Shoes are subject to seasonal trends, just like the rest of fashion. Sneakers are one of the most common culprits. The hottest fashion trends are being re-released by top brands, which means that many must-haves will be discarded or destroyed.
It’s time for us to reconsider our shoe-buying habits in a world that is consuming shrinking natural resources and a surplus of plastics and chemical-waste.
Are materials from our shoes still usable?
Perhaps we could consider footwear from brands that reduce pollution and innovate with natural resources. These brands make it easy to choose sustainable shoes. These brands are proving that recycled footwear is 100% possible with their cutting-edge design and innovative use of materials.
17 Recycled Shoes That Are Creative To Save The Planet
- Clarks Origin
Clarks’ new Origin range focuses on simplicity. It only contains five components and can be assembled without glue. The result? Less plastic, more waste, and a greater positive impact on the environment.
This range is part their Made to Last philosophy that ensures a comfortable, well-constructed shoe that will stand the test of time. Simple materials – unlined leathers of a Gold-rated tanning facility that reduce water and energy. They are soft, breathable, and extremely lightweight.
There are three colors to choose from: white, black, and light pink.
Norm, a Belgian sustainable sneaker brand has launched a new recycling program called ‘Circle’. This will close the loop on the wasteful trend to throw out old shoes. You can send an old pair of Norms to the brand free of charge if they look worn.
It doesn’t really matter how beat up your sneakers are. If there isn’t much damage, they will clean it up and donate it to a charity. Once the sneakers reach that point they will be crushed and made into outsoles. No matter where your shoes end up, they will be given a new lease on life.
Vionic is the best option for a summer shoe that’s lightweight and vegan. Vionic’s Pismo is the perfect pair of sneakers for city escapes and beach holidays. They are supportive, comfortable, and thoughtful of the planet.
The lace-up version for women is made from eco-conscious canvas sourced from ethically produced cotton. They contain 50% post-consumer recycled Polyester, 80% rubber, and 20% soybean base-compound-outsoles.
To keep them looking great for longer, wash them in the washer if they get too dirty. We love the fact that this shoe comes in a variety of styles and colours.
- Beyond skin
Are you looking for vegan shoes? Beyond Skin, PETA approved, hand makes all styles of trainers and heels in Spain using eco-friendly materials. Beyond Skin is a brand that makes shoes like any other, using only leather and no PVC.
The conscious designer brand also offers a 100% faux leather lining and a vegetable polymer coating on all of their shoes. There are many styles and types of heels and flats to choose from. This is enough to keep even the most dedicated shoe-shopper satisfied. Plus, 5% profit is donated to grassroots environmental and social causes.
Even the skate shoe got an ethical makeover. Langbrett leather products from German brand feature chrome-free leather. They are lined with organic cotton fleece and upcycled materials, and have recycled cork soles. All products are manufactured in Europe, mostly Portugal, and have fair working conditions.
Langbrett goes above and beyond when it comes to sourcing materials. They own their own sheep flock for wool production and the profits they make go towards developing their own skating community in Germany.
Astral’s casual road shoe is ready to take you on an adventure. The Donner style is made from recycled polyester and hemp. It’s durable, breathable, and, thankfully, resistant to rot.
Astral shoes were created by a biodynamic farmer and are low-eco-impact. However, they are high tech enough for anyone who wants to spend weekends in the wild.
- Collection & Co
Collection & Co is a new British brand of vegan shoes. It offers a variety of trendy-lead boots and heels that are PETA approved. They also have a low price.
The shoes are made in Portugal in small family-owned factories using recycled and waste materials. You can think power courts, gorgeous brogues, graphic blocks heels, and mustard ankle boots.
Also, a men’s collection was released featuring faux leather boots and unisex Pinatex(r), sneakers, and Chelsea boots.
Rens is running headfirst into the next generation of vegan shoes. They created their innovative technology to make stylish, sustainable sneakers as a result of their mission to reduce the fashion industry’s waste.
This material is a mixture of recycled plastic and old coffee grounds. It’s waterproof, odourless, and lightweight. Six recycled plastic bottles and 150g of coffee waste are used to make a pair of Rens sneakers. How can we make the fashion industry more sustainable by eliminating food waste and plastic waste? This sounds like a great idea.
Tropicfeel is the ultimate shoe for travel that’s PETA-approved. A rucksack full footwear is not what you want when you embark on an adventure that includes hiking, swimming, sightseeing and more. These versatile and vegan sneakers are your answer.
Tropicfeel shoes have the appearance of a day shoe, but the strength and comfort of a hiking boot. They only work with suppliers who can be traced back at every stage of the supply chain.
Cosmo and Bloom Foam have also partnered to ensure that their 100% plant-based footwear is made from recycled and eco materials. This includes plastic water bottles.
VIVAIA aims to not contribute to the environmental disaster the fashion industry is in. They instead create seasonless wardrobe essentials out of sustainable materials. These stylish, ethically made shoes can be worn from one season to the next.
They are timeless, elegant and classic. The variety of bright and stylish colours available is a testament to their style. VIVAIA’s footwear is sustainably made from a mix of natural and recycled materials.
The shoes are knitted from recycled plastic water bottles. Natural latex foam made from rubber resin is added comfort. These shoes have flexible, odour- and fungi-resistant rubber outsoles made of carbon-free rubber.
- Ponto Footwear
The ultimate multi-purpose shoe. Ponto Footwear offers the versatility of a trainer with the elegance of a classic dress shoe. Ponto can take you from the boardroom to your bar and back again.
This shoe is made of recycled leather trimmings that were gathered from tannery floors. This material would have been sent to landfill. The bottom of the Pacific is made of an algae-based foam and the insole of the recycled foam is lined with Tencel fabric, which is biodegradable and odour-killing.
It is lightweight, breathable, sweat-resistant, and can be adjusted to your feet. Ponto has eliminated many harmful practices in their manufacturing process and now produce the Pacific with recycled water. One pair is equivalent to 120 bottles of filtered water being returned to the environment.
The superfine merino wool trainers are made in New Zealand from where Allbirds were created. They require 60% less energy to produce, transform discarded ocean plastics into laces, and come packaged in recycled cardboard.
They are super lightweight and have no logos – they also fit like a glove. We’re obsessed.
- Two Degrees
Shoes for boat that aren’t just for boats Say hello to Two Degrees. Two Degrees was founded last year by two guys who aimed to save 1,000 square feet of habitat.
These are extremely comfortable, whether you’re at the beach or on the deck. They come in five colors from olive to charcoal and are made to last. For a smaller environmental impact, each pair is made from recycled rubber soles and waste bio-leather. Perfect.
Say hello to the 100% sustainable sneakers of Sweden’s Tretorn. These casual trainers were inspired by the sleek tennis shoes from the 1960s. They are fully recyclable and can be recycled.
- KUMI Sneakers
KUMI Sneakers is launching a new range of sneakers that they call “sneakers to adventure people”. KUMI was founded on three principles: Respect for animals, a sustainable fashion industry and local production. They use recycled materials, including plastic bottles, to make their shoes.
Six different sneaker designs are available, but there is currently only one. Their Kickstarter campaign allows you to pre-order your pair.