People are seeking out ways to minimize the harmful effects fashion has on the environment and becoming more conscious about how their clothes are produced. When it comes to footwear for everyday travel and adventure, vegan shoe companies are providing more style, quality and comfort options without the adverse effects to animals and the planet. But why are vegan shoes gaining more popularity as an eco-friendly option?
Are vegan shoes more environmentally friendly?
Vegan shoes are generally classified as products made without the use of animal-derived products, such as fur, leather, wool, and even some glues. Many vegan shoes don’t often tick the environmentally-friendly box when they are made of ‘plastic leather’, either from a PVC (polyvinyl) or PU (polyurethane).
The over-use of these toxic materials in footwear have driven eco-conscious vegan shoe companies to strategize solutions within textile and production manufacturing by ensuring fair-trade practices, using plant-based leather and upcycling plastics from oceans and landfills. There are many vegan shoe companies that not only create cruelty-free products but source raw materials sustainably, and produce long-lasting shoes under fair and ethical working conditions.
The alternatives to animal leather and ‘pleather’ are eco-friendly, breathable, lightweight cruelty-free vegan shoe materials that are created from plants such as cotton, apples, coconut, rubber, cork, and even pineapple. For your next trip, we’ve compiled a list of animal and earth-friendly vegan shoes that help reduce environmental impacts without compromising on comfort, quality materials and style.
The best vegan boots
Po-Zu’s VIM boots
Po-Zu’s collection of footwear has you covered for a shoe that is 100% vegan. Their innovative and renewable, low-impact materials create funky designs that are flexible and long-lasting. Their natural coconut husk sole is comfortable as they are fit for long days exploring a new city or nature-loving walks through beautiful landscapes.
Po-Zu are continually innovating. They shared with Matador Network, “Mushroom leather is the latest innovation material for the industry and we look forward to working with it on up and coming collections.”
We recommend their GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified cotton and fair-trade rubber VIM Boots.
Price: From $120.89
Vivobarefoot TRACKER II FG
If you are considering off-road or hiking adventures, then Vivobarefoot vegan range has thermal, trail and waterproof options to choose from in their signature minimalist shoe sole. A bonus is how lightweight their boots are to travel with. The company uses post-consumer plastic waste and is designed to be “remade and reworn.” They aim to keep their vegan footwear out of the landfills and upcycle the materials to create even more eco-friendly hiking options. Browse through their collections to choose the perfect style choice that suits your environmental and vegan standards.
Price: From $197.00
Astral Pisgah waterproof boots
Astral footwear designs vegan adventure shoes fit for the outdoor traveler. These vegan shoes are a great option for trekking through mountains or enjoying the scenery of forest trails. Astral developed a high-quality rubber grip for their patented Sticky G® Outsoles. The company also uses recycled polyester and aims to source sustainable materials where possible. The founder, Phillip Curry, explains “We were deeply committed to building the best performing products for wilderness athletes, and we focused on building them in the least toxic, lowest impact way. I loved creating a company where cool, creative people could work together to benefit nature.”
Price: From $150.00
Novesta Chelsea rubber boots
European brand Novesta was established in 1939 and since then they have been making hand-made sustainable shoes. Their vegan shoe designs are durable, washable, and made with natural rubber, sustainably sourced and certified from forestry plantations. For a completely waterproof boot option, go for their no-waste Chelsea rain boot. They also have a great vegan shoe collection for kids.
Inov-8 Hiking boots
Shoe companies like Inov-8, are transparent with their sustainability strategies through their entire supply chain and ensure their hiking shoes are 100% vegan. Even their shoeboxes are recycled cardboard using water-based ink. Their boots are super vegan shoe options for light and fast travel in either dry or wet terrain.
Price: From $142.00
The best vegan sneakers
NAE vegan sneakers
Recyclable PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is still a popular choice when creating a vegan shoe because of its lightweight and durability. With NAE (No Animal Exploitation) vegan shoes, you can choose a recycled plastic or natural fabric design for a sneaker, boot or sandal. This company uses recycled PET in many of its sneaker designs from post-consumer plastic or used plastic collected from the ocean. The company is GRS (Global Recycled Standard) certified which means their recycled materials are traceable and labeled correctly along with safe and equitable working conditions used in the production line. GRS certifications are definitely something to look out for in fashion in order to avoid companies that may inflate their sustainability claims commonly known as ‘greenwashing.’
UIN’s slip-on sneakers
UIN has some of the most unique vegan slip-on shoe collections around, featuring bold designs inspired by nature and travel. Their artistic sneakers are designed for the free-spirited explorer to walk comfortably on a flexible sole, in super-light style and free of fur and animal derivatives. With over 50 brightly painted designs inspired by global destinations, you’ll find the perfect match for you that may even be inspired by your next trip.
Price: From $75
The sustainable fashion duo, Alexandra and Sergio, kickstarted KUMI sneaker company in 2021. Their passion for traveling and their love for animals inspired them to design a comfortable vegan shoe that would meet eco-sustainable values in six different colors. They crowd-funded their fashion project “to create a community of globe-trotters that seek to leave a sustainable footprint with every step they take and that are committed to change the society they live in.” They have factored sustainability into every detail, from the shipping, shoe bag to even the eyelets of the shoe.
Price: From $150
Thousand Fell sneakers
With over 300 million pairs of shoes ending up in US landfills every year, Thousand Fell created a ‘full circle footwear’ that is focused on durability and comfort. They use recycled yoga mats as the shoe insole and when you buy your pair of sneakers, you can get paid to recycle them back into their circular economy. Their thoughtful vegan designs have been tested for 2.4 million steps to ensure durability and long-lasting comfort. Although their sneakers are white, they are thoughtfully made as stain-proof with either biodegradable, recycled or materials that can be upcycled in another pair of shoes.
Price: From $120.00
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