Weekly Tip 93 – How About Sustainable Shoes?

Sustainable Shoes Make Happy Feet

Sustainable change can take many forms, but it all starts with education.

With that in mind, Play It Green’s weekly tips help you make more informed decisions and signposts to more sustainable products.

This week’s tip is all about your footwear and more specifically your shoes!

Shoes are something we all wear and probably have numerous pairs of, but, have you thought about the impact of your shoe collection?

So that you are empowered to make more sustainable decisions the next time you need a new pair, this week’s tip looks at sustainable shoes!

Reduce Repair Regive

When Shoes Stopped Being Sustainable

The history of sustainable shoes dates back to ancient times when shoes were made from natural materials such as animal hides, plant fibres, and wood.

These materials are durable, biodegradable, and could be sourced locally, making them a sustainable choice.

As societies evolved and trade routes expanded, shoes are made from a wider variety of materials, including leather, silk, and eventually synthetic materials like rubber and plastic.

The mass production of shoes, which began in the 19th century with the development of the assembly line, has continued to grow in scale and efficiency.

However, this mass production is having negative environmental and social impacts, such as the use of fossil fuels in the production of synthetic materials.

As well as this there are negative effects on local communities due to centralised factories.

Efforts are being made to address these issues and create more sustainable shoes.

These efforts include the use of sustainable materials, fair labour practices, and more efficient manufacturing processes.

Sustainable 5500 year old shoe
5,500-year-old leather shoe that was found in 2008 in Armenia

By choosing sustainable shoes, consumers can help to reduce the negative impacts of mass shoe production and support more environmentally and socially responsible practices.

The Environmental Impact of Shoes

The production and disposal of shoes have a significant impact on the environment and the materials used to make shoes often have an environmental cost.

For example, the production of synthetic materials like rubber and plastic often involves the use of fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change.

Sustainable Shoes Tanning
Tanning leather for shoes can be environmentally harmful

Additionally, the tanning of leather can have negative impacts on water quality.

The transportation of shoes from factories to retail stores and eventually to consumers also contributes to carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the disposal of shoes has an impact on the environment.

Many shoes are made from non-biodegradable materials, which means they take hundreds of years to break down in landfills.

This leads to the accumulation of waste and contributes to environmental problems such as litter and habitat destruction.

Of the billions and billions made, 22 billion are thrown into landfill each year!

This scale can exacerbate the environmental impacts of the materials used and the transportation involved.

The environmental impact of shoes should not be underestimated.

Moreover, it’s important to consider these impacts when making choices about what shoes to purchase and how to dispose of them.

Thinking About Sustainable Shoes

There are several ways to make shoes more sustainable.

Firstly, choosing shoes made from sustainable materials is an important step.

Natural materials such as rubber, organic cotton, and recycled plastic are more environmentally friendly to produce and dispose of than synthetic materials like plastic.

In addition to being better for the environment, these materials are often more comfortable and durable.

Another way to make shoes more sustainable is to purchase from companies that are committed to sustainability.

These companies use more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, such as reducing energy use and carbon emissions, and they also use more sustainable materials.

Supporting these companies helps to drive demand for sustainable products and encourages more companies to adopt sustainable practices.

Additionally, taking care of your shoes can help to extend their lifespan and reduce the need for new shoes.

Choosing sustainable shoes
Choosing shoes made from sustainable materials is an important step

This can include proper storage and cleaning, as well as having shoes repaired when necessary.

By extending the life of your shoes, you will reduce the environmental impact of shoe production and disposal.

By making sustainable choices, we can all help to create a more environmentally responsible shoe industry.

Sustainable Shoes We Love

Allbirds Wool Runner Sustainable Shoe
Allbirds Wool Runner Sustainable Shoe


A relatively new company, Allbirds is a sustainable shoe company that uses natural materials.

Their materials include merino wool, eucalyptus tree fibre, and recycled plastic bottles.

Allbirds is committed to reducing its environmental footprint.

With that in mind, it implemented a number of sustainability initiatives, including using renewable energy and planting trees.

As well as this, they are partnered with organisations that work to protect natural resources.

They offer a wide range of comfortable and stylish shoes for both men and women.

Dr Marten's

You will most likely have heard of Dr Marten’s – the company is a well-known shoe brand that has recently started to prioritize sustainability.

They recently introduced a range of shoes made from sustainable materials such as recycled polyester and natural rubber.

In addition to using eco-friendly materials, Dr Martens is also committed to using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.

On top of this they have set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Dr Marten's Sustainable Shoe
Dr Marten's Black Patent Lamper
Vegan Leather Sustainable Shoe
Good Guys Don't Wear Leather Vegan Ankle Boot

Good Guys Don't Wear Leather

The company, Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather is a vegan shoe manufacturer that aims to create environmentally and ethically responsible products.

The company uses a variety of sustainable materials in its shoe production, including recycled rubber, organic cotton, and bamboo.

They also donates a portion of its profits to organizations that work to protect animals and the environment.

To help you be more sustainable, you can currently get 10% off Good Guys’ shoes by heading over to their website and subscribing to their mailing list.

That’s everything for this week!

We hope that the article has made you think differently about what you put on your feet.

In addition, you hopefully have some more information to make more sustainable buying decisions in the future.

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