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Sustainable Shoes: A Complete Guide and 30 Ethical Brands

CEO Tinh Phung
Every step we take has an impact on the environment and the people involved in the production of our shoes. From the materials used to the manufacturing process, the shoe industry has long been associated...

Every step we take has an impact on the environment and the people involved in the production of our shoes. From the materials used to the manufacturing process, the shoe industry has long been associated with environmental degradation and social injustices. However, there is a growing movement towards sustainable and ethical footwear, with brands striving to make a positive difference. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the world of sustainable shoes and highlight 30 ethical brands that are leading the way.

Sustainable Shoes: An Introduction

Shoes have always held cultural, religious, and political significance. They enable us to navigate the world, symbolize transformation and hope, and carry powerful magical symbolism. However, behind the smoke and mirrors lies a deeply complex and unsustainable world. The shoe industry's relentless pursuit of profit feeds human rights violations and ecological crises.

People running on pier in sustainable shoes Image: Sustainable shoes by AllBirds

Some facts for eco-friendly shoe brands: What’s in a Shoe?

The footwear industry is responsible for 1.4% of global GHG emissions and infamously known for its extraction of raw, non-renewable materials and production of hazardous waste. Shoes are made to last an ephemeral existence, with components that are difficult to recycle. Textiles treatments and dyes contribute to water pollution, while leather production has both ecological and social implications.

Our List of Sustainable Footwear Brands

While the road to a truly sustainable footwear economy is long, many ethical brands are putting their best foot forward. These brands challenge the sartorial status quo and prioritize slow fashion, sustainable materials, and ethical production. They aim to make a positive impact on people and the planet, and inspire conscious consumption.

Here are 30 sustainable footwear brands that deserve recognition:

Done By Matea

Done by Matea shoes

"Creating unique handcrafted shoes for unique people."
Based: Melbourne, Australia
Shoe range: Slides, sandals, heels, boots, and custom designs
Price range: $350 - $2,600 (varies if custom made)
Ships to: Worldwide
Ethos: Slow fashion, custom-made, artisan, handcrafted, sustainable materials, ethical supply chain

Done by Matea is a slow artisan shoe brand that creates dreamy, fun, and beautiful styles while staying committed to slow, sustainable, and ethical processes. Each pair of Done by Matea footwear is a true work of art, handcrafted with ethically made shoes composed of sustainable materials.


couple sitting in cafe wearing colorful ethical shoes

‘All the qualities of wool, from its traditional heritage to its technical properties to its environmentally responsible attributes, make it a fiber with no equal.’
Based: Renens, Vaud, Switzerland
Shoe range: Sustainable slippers, sneakers
Price range: €59 - €125
Ships to: Worldwide
Ethos: Sustainable materials, social impact, fair working conditions, handcrafted, family business, ethical production

Baabuk utilizes the extraordinary natural qualities of wool to make comfortable, durable, and sustainable footwear. Wool has unique properties that make it both renewable and biodegradable, with fewer shoes ending up in landfills.

This is just a small sample of the sustainable footwear brands that are making a difference. By choosing ethical and sustainable shoes, we can make a positive impact and support a more responsible industry. So, take a step in the right direction and make a conscious choice when it comes to your footwear.