The fashion industry has been taking steps towards sustainability over the past decade, with eco-friendly fashion becoming increasingly popular. One area that has seen significant growth is the production of eco-friendly flip-flops.
Traditional flip-flops are the most popular style of footwear worldwide, with the global market valued at approximately $18.59 billion in 2019. However, the cheap plastic versions that flood the market are causing significant environmental damage. They are so flimsy that they often only last for a single summer, resulting in tons of plastic waste washing up on beaches around the world.
To combat this, there has been a rise in the production of eco-friendly flip-flop alternatives that are more durable and sustainable. Investing in a pair of these alternatives not only benefits the environment but also ensures that the footwear lasts much longer. For those looking for more stylish summer footwear, sustainable sandals are also a great option.
Our Top Sustainable Flip-Flop Sole Mates
When it comes to sustainable flip-flops, there are many options available, but some brands stand out from the rest. Here are our top picks for sustainable flip-flops that are eco-friendly, stylish, and comfortable.
Indosole is a B Corp that specializes in recycled tire flip-flops. The company’s founder, Kyle Parsons, was inspired to create sustainable footwear after purchasing a pair of sandals made from recycled tires in Bali. Indosole’s flip-flops are designed for all-terrain use, with arch support, waterproof quality, and a non-slip textured top sheet. The straps are made from “ENVRO” fiber, which uses little water in the manufacturing process and gives off a leather-like feel. Indosole’s supply chain is mostly within Indonesia, from the sourcing of tires from garages and tire brokers to the final manufacturing by local artisans. The company is committed to maintaining top-notch ethics throughout their manufacturing processes and supply chains, and they organize and support various charitable events to cultivate a community of Good Humans.
- Materials: Recycled tire flip-flops, cruelty-free, and 100% waterproof.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Certified B Corp, yearly audits, workers are paid fairly and work in safe environments when producing non-toxic flip-flops.
- Carbon commitments & green practices: Keeps carbon footprint to a minimum by sourcing materials locally and uses less water and dye.
- Community & charitable giving: Organizes and supports various charitable events to cultivate a community of Good Humans, and partners with Soles4Souls to give back to displaced families through a disaster relief program.
Okabashi’s eco-friendly latex-free flip-flops are 100% recyclable and made of bio-based soy material that is free from any BPAs, latex, and phthalates. The company creates shoes from Buford, Georgia, which has a long history of footwear manufacturing since the days of World War II. Their manufacturing facility runs under the guidance of a mostly female team, and “goes above and beyond stringent US standards to create opportunity and community for our diverse 200 employees”. Okabashi’s flip-flops feature a slip-resistant design, toe rest, and gentle massage beads, and they are designed to provide support for foot health. The company partners with US nonprofits Two Ten Footwear Foundation and Souls4Soles and has donated over 8,000 pairs of shoes for people in disaster relief areas, veterans, and more.
- Materials: 25% recycled materials and bio-based soy material that is free from any BPAs, latex, and phthalates.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Creates shoes from Buford, Georgia, manufacturing facility runs under the guidance of a mostly female team, and “goes above and beyond stringent US standards to create opportunity and community for our diverse 200 employees”.
- Carbon commitments & green practices: Saves an estimated 134,000 gallons of fuel per year by not shipping products from Asia to the USA.
- Community & charitable giving: Partners with US nonprofits Two Ten Footwear Foundation and Souls4Soles and has donated over 8,000 pairs of shoes for people in disaster relief areas, veterans, and more.
Gumbies is an Australian-inspired brand that offers a range of sustainable footwear, including upcycled cork and recycled rubber flip-flops. Their Corkers biodegradable flip-flops are the most sustainable, with an upcycled cork fabric top layer, salvaged cotton strap, and recycled rubber outsole reinforced with jute for strength. The Islander Canvas line features recycled rubber outsoles, recycled cotton canvas toe posts and strap linings, 100% cotton insole, and an EVA midsole (which is not biodegradable). The Duck Bills feature a textured EVA top layer, recycled PET strap, and rubber outsole, while the Cairns non-slip flip-flops feature outsoles made from recycled rubber and jersey textiles that provide a super soft touch for the soles of your feet. Gumbies partners with VERDN and plants a mangrove tree in Africa for every purchase, providing jobs and income to local communities. The company is also a proud member of the European Outdoor Conservation Association.
- Materials: Cork, upcycled cork fabric, recycled rubber, recycled cotton canvas, EVA midsole, recycled PET strap, and jersey textiles.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Manufacturing locations in the USA, UK, and China.
- Carbon commitments & green practices: Ships from areas closer to customers to reduce container and shipping emissions.
- Community & charitable giving: Partners with VERDN to plant a mangrove tree in Africa for every purchase, providing jobs and income to local communities, and is a
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How We Selected the Best Natural or Recycled Flip-Flops
To determine the best eco-friendly flip-flops, the team at [insert publication name] considered various sustainable fashion criteria. The primary focus was on materials, supply chain and labor practices, carbon commitments and green practices, and community and charitable giving.
The team looked for eco-friendly materials that could biodegrade at the end of their lives, especially through composting. Natural fibers such as organic cotton, hemp, jute, bamboo fabric, linen, and cork flip-flops were highly regarded. Natural rubber is technically natural, but it does not biodegrade fast enough to be considered compostable.
Recycled materials, even if they are synthetic, were also considered a close second because they make use of waste that already exists. This could mean recycled plastic flip-flops, recycled tire flip-flops, and even flip-flops made of recycled yoga mats.
Supply Chain and Labor Practices
The team also considered corporate social responsibility and ethical sourcing of materials, which encompasses many things. Companies must treat and pay their workers fairly, and certifications such as B Corporation (B Corp) and fair trade were highly regarded.
Carbon Commitments and Green Practices
The manufacturing and shipping methods of flip-flops matter almost as much as the materials used. The team looked for brands that use carbon offset programs, renewable energy, non-mechanized methods of production (handmade for life!), and minimal, responsible packaging.
Community and Charitable Giving
Companies that give back to the communities they sell to, the environment, or the world in general were highly regarded. While the team understands that new flip-flops cannot be priced astronomically, they appreciate smaller companies that are proactive with their charitable work.
Overall, the team at [insert publication name] chose the best natural or recycled flip-flops based on a combination of sustainable fashion criteria. They considered materials, supply chain and labor practices, carbon commitments and green practices, and community and charitable giving to ensure that the flip-flops were not only eco-friendly but also ethical and durable.
Final Thoughts on Eco Flip-Flops
When it comes to finding eco-friendly summer shoes, flip-flops and sandals are a great option. Traditional flip-flops are often made from harmful plastics like PVC, but sustainable alternatives are available. Repairing or buying second-hand flip-flops should be the first choice, but if that’s not possible, there are ethical brands that offer zero-waste and recycled options.
Properly recycling broken plastic flip-flops is also important. Terracycle provides recycle boxes in various sizes, making it easy to dispose of them responsibly. By choosing eco-friendly flip-flops, individuals can help reduce their impact on the environment and support ethical brands.
Overall, eco-conscious consumers can make a difference by choosing sustainable summer shoes and properly disposing of old ones.