The fashion industry is evolving, and with that comes the need for sustainable options to reduce waste. Shoes, in particular, can have a significant impact on the environment when they end up in landfills. However, finding ethically-made shoes that fit well can be a challenging task, especially for men.
Fortunately, there are a few brands that are making strides towards creating sustainable men’s shoes without sacrificing style. These brands are committed to slow fashion principles, ensuring that their products are eco-friendly and ethically-made. In this article, we will explore some of the top sustainable shoe brands for men, providing insight into their unique features and how they are making a positive impact on the industry.
Ethical & Eco-Friendly Men’s Shoes We’d Wear Any Day of the Week
When it comes to choosing footwear, it’s important to consider ethical and eco-friendly options that are both stylish and sustainable. Here are 11 brands that offer men’s shoes made from sustainable materials, recycled materials, and organic cotton, among others.
1. Thousand Fell
Thousand Fell is a New York-based brand that creates men’s shoes made from recycled bottles with a recycled rubber outsole. The interior of the shoes uses materials like sugar cane, coconut husks, and palm leaf fiber from food scraps. The shoes are sent back for donation, taken apart to reuse certain materials, or simply biodegrade after reaching the tested 2.4 million steps. Materials are locally sourced in Brazil where a family-owned factory is responsible for production. Thousand Fell offsets carbon emissions and water use, ships in FSC-certified cardboard boxes, replaces tissue paper with organic cotton reusable tote bags, and delivers locally in NYC via bike.
8000Kicks creates sustainable shoes for men made from hemp fabric, making them antimicrobial, antibacterial, and naturally water-repellent. The soles come in two materials: recycled rubber or Bloom Algae, which blends harmful and invasive algae with foam to create a biodegradable cushion. 8000Kicks has two main factories (one in China and one in Portugal), carefully selected for quality of production and reputation. Besides using sustainable materials, all products come in recycled cardboard and corn starch, biodegradable mailers. These eco-friendly men’s shoes are 95% natural, but they are currently working on a shoe recycling program.
Allbirds is a brand that offers men’s shoes made from ZQ-certified merino wool uppers or FSC-certified TENCEL™ lyocell uppers. Their SweetFoam™ midsoles come from sustainably-sourced sugarcane, the laces from recycled plastic bottles, and the insoles (partially) from castor bean oil. Allbirds produces ethical men’s shoes in two factories that employ water and energy-saving practices: one LEED-certified in Hai Phong, Vietnam and the other WRAP-certified in Shenzhen, China. Wool reduces energy consumption by 60% compared to synthetic fabrics. Already a carbon neutral business with goals to be carbon net zero by 2030, Allbirds shoes are shipped in 90% post-consumer recyclable cardboard.
4. Brave GentleMan
Brave GentleMan is a vegan lifestyle menswear brand that offers everything from sandals and casual sneakers to eco-friendly men’s dress shoes and boots. The majority of their sustainable vegan men’s shoes are made with weather-resistant, polyurethane microfiber that’s made in Italy. They also use recycled cardboard for their packaging and have a made-to-order system that reduces waste.
Cariuma is a brand that creates men’s shoes made from sustainable materials like organic cotton, recycled materials, and cork. They also use Brazilian sugarcane to create their SweetFoam™ soles. Cariuma’s shoes are designed to be comfortable, durable, and stylish, and they come in a variety of colors and styles.
6. Kane Footwear
Kane Footwear is a brand that creates men’s shoes made from recycled plastic bottles. They also use natural cork in their insoles and recycled rubber in their outsoles. Kane Footwear’s shoes are designed to be comfortable, durable, and stylish, and they come in a variety of colors and styles.
Baabuk is a brand that creates men’s shoes made from sustainable materials like wool and recycled plastic bottles. Their shoes are designed to be comfortable, durable, and stylish, and they come in a variety of colors and styles.
Nisolo is a brand that creates men’s shoes made from sustainable materials like vegetable-tanned leather and recycled plastic bottles. They also use merino wool in their insoles and recycled polyester in their shoelaces. Nisolo’s shoes are designed to be comfortable, durable, and stylish, and they come in a variety of colors and styles.
Orba is a brand that creates men’s shoes made from sustainable materials like hemp and recycled cotton. They also use recycled plastic bottles in their insoles and outsoles. Orba’s shoes are designed to be comfortable, durable, and stylish, and they come in a variety of colors and styles.
Sanuk is a brand that creates men’s shoes made from sustainable materials like recycled plastic bottles and hemp. They also use a material called Yoga Mat Comfort™ in their insoles. Sanuk’s shoes are designed to be comfortable, durable
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How We Found The Best Sustainable Shoes For Men
When it comes to sustainable fashion, men’s shoes have often been overlooked. However, there are now sustainable men’s shoe brands that are taking the lead in the industry. But what exactly makes a men’s shoe brand sustainable?
The most eco-friendly materials for men’s shoes include natural materials such as organic cotton, linen, hemp, lyocell fabric, cork, and natural rubber. Leather uppers are also common, but ethical leather must be either recycled or byproduct leather tanned with vegetable-based substances. Synthetic fabrics are nearly unavoidable in sustainable shoes, but recycled material shoes or those that blend synthetics with biobased materials are preferable.
Certifications such as Leather Working Group (LWG), OEKO-TEX® 100, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Global Recycle Standard (GRS), and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) can help ensure the sustainability of the materials used.
Supply Chain & Labor Practices
Sustainable men’s shoe brands should have codes of conduct and a transparent, traceable supply chain to ensure fair treatment, pay, and conditions for all suppliers in the production of their goods. Certifications such as B-Corporation, Fair Trade, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), and International Labour Organization (ILO) can help prevent greenwashing among men’s ethical shoes.
Green Business Practices
Eco-friendly shoe brands for men can also implement green business practices such as product recycling or carbon offset programs, and low waste shipping methods. These practices can further reduce the environmental impact of shoe production.
Community & Charitable Giving
Sustainable men’s shoe brands that give back to their communities and prioritize people over profit are also worth supporting.
Final Thoughts On Ethical Men’s Shoes
With over 90% of shoes ending up in landfills, it is crucial that shoe brands focus not only on style but also sustainability. By using eco-friendly materials, implementing fair labor practices, and adopting green business practices, sustainable men’s shoe brands are on the right track. It is important to research and support these brands to reduce the environmental impact of the footwear industry.
While the most sustainable men’s shoe brand may be the ones already on your mudroom floor, it is important to properly dispose of old shoes and invest in sustainable options when it’s time for a new pair. By sharing this information and supporting sustainable shoe brands for men, we can all tread lighter on the planet.