For too long the situation with the environment has been worsening, and it has inspired people from across the globe to become incredibly innovative.
This includes the fashion industry, which is one of the world’s leading contributors to global pollution.
One area of fashion that has seen a large increase in eco-conscientiousness is footwear.
Whether it is reducing pollution factors or streamlining manufacturing processes, many footwear brands have taken the initiative to come up with footwear made of recycled, upcycled, or sustainable materials.
As plastic has become such a huge problem in terms of ocean pollutants, some footwear brands have focused on doing what they can to rectify that.
Nearly 8 million metric tons of plastics go into the oceans per year, adding to the estimated 150 million metric tons that are currently already there.
Prompted by those alarming numbers, some footwear designers have decided to tackle the problem the only way they can: by making durable, fashionable, comfortable shoes out of recycled plastic.
We’ve done our research and found 14 brands that utilize recycled plastic to make stylish, versatile footwear, and for your convenience we’ve listed them all below.
Shoes Made from Recycled Plastic
Allbirds has committed itself to reducing climate change, and they make shoes through decidedly eco-friendly methods. Aware that even with these steps, their company contributes to global contribution, they tax themselves for the carbon they emit by investing in carbon offsets and funding projects that work toward neutralizing their carbon footprint.
Allbirds provides a range of footwear for men and women, including sneakers, boat shoes, slip-ons, and high tops. Both their size and color selections are vast, making it very easy for shoppers to find something they like.
Our Pick: Men’s Tree Dashers – These shoes are made from a variety of eco-friendly materials, including recycled cardboard, castor bean oil, and merino wool from sustainable agricultural sources. Recycled plastic bottles are what account for the laces in these shoes – one bottle accounts for one pair of laces.
Converse is doing its part toward a more eco-friendly future for fashion, too. The brand’s famous sneakers are available in the Converse Renew line, which are still as stylish as their other lines, but instead feature translucent midsoles and flecked outsoles. While recycled rubber is the main material used here (including scraps from their own factories), there are other recycled materials used as well, including plastic.
Converse has an impressive amount of footwear available for women, men, and kids. There are sneakers for skateboarding, basketball, high tops, low tops, and shoes made custom to order. In terms of color, there is a veritable rainbow for you to choose from.
Our Pick: Summer Daze Chuck All Star Crater – Marketed as being Converse’s most sustainable sneaker yet, this shoe made from recycled materials is as trendy as it is comfortable. They are available in two different summer inspired colors and would make the perfect addition to a warm weather wardrobe.
By 2030, Reebok aims to go for the “Earthshot” with the goal of all of their products being sustainable. It is clear they are already working toward that end by taking a look at some of their product lines:
- [Ree]Grow, which are made with at least 50 percent plant based materials
- [Ree]Cycled, where at least 30 percent of the upper is recycled materials
- Better Cotton
- Organic Cotton
- Color With Care
With so much focus on sustainable footwear, they are well on their way to their 2030 goal.
Reebok has long been one of the most popular and reliable shoe brands, and they continue to hold that title by providing athletic and everyday shoes for men, women and children. Regardless of your preference for design and color, you are sure to find something you like.
Our Pick: Zig Kinetica II Shoes – With a bold design and plenty of cushioning, it is amazing to think that these are actually shoes made from recycled plastic bottles and rubber. They are designed to support you through even the most tiring bouts of activity and are a great choice for those who like to hit the pavement for a run everyday.
Sperry has a line called SeaCyled, which features shoes made from recycled ocean plastic. Each pair crafted helps to reduce the amount of plastic waste currently polluting the ocean. In fact, one pair of SeaCycled shoes equates to about five recycled plastic bottles. By 2023, the company aims to have 50 percent of all their products be part of the SeaCycled collection. The company has also eradicated unnecessary packaging in order to reduce plastic waste.
Sperry’s SeaCycled sneakers are for women and men and are minimalistic in style. They are simple, casual shoes that are great for summer outings or for everyday indoor use.
Our Pick: Men’s Striper II CVO SeaCycled Sneaker – With uppers made from recovered plastic waste from the ocean, these sneakers let you look good while providing you with increased traction.
5. Stella McCartney
This brand knows and recognizes that it is an agent of change and has worked hard to become an activist for ethical values and environmental protection. Their products are proof that footwear can still be beautiful and striking without leaving behind a huge negative impact on the environment. The company is transparent about their manufacturing process and also makes it a point to report their impact.
Stella McCartney’s shoes cover a lot of bases: casual, elegant, and athletic. What’s more, they create vegan shoes, sustainable shoes, and shoes made from recycled materials. Their selection is for women and kids and they have sandals, wedges, boots, and sneakers.
Our Pick: Loop Square Mesh Sneakers – Vibrant, athletic, and trendy, these sneakers are made from recycled materials without any sacrifice in the quality department.
6. Adidas Parley
Adidas’s partnership with Parley has led to a very successful collaboration that keeps plastic out of the ocean. Parley works hard to intercept all manners of plastic waste before it reaches the ocean. That waste is then converted into threads, and Adidas then uses the threads to create recycled shoes.
There are quite a few Adidas Parley shoes to choose from in different colors and styles. The shoes are engineered to provide the utmost in comfort and support regardless of whether you’re active or just hanging out with your friends.
Our Pick: Ultraboost DNA Shoes – Available in three different colors, these shoes are meant to enhance movement and are incredibly versatile. The design is seamless and compliments workout clothes just as well as it enhances casual wear.
Nike has started the “Move to Zero” initiative, which means the company is working toward zero waste and zero carbon during their manufacturing process. Not only are their shoes made from recycled ocean plastic, they also reuse other textiles like polyester and yarn. Nike Flyknit material is made with 60 percent waste as opposed to that of traditional footwear upper manufacturing. What’s more, each shoe made from Flyknit accounts for 6 to 7 plastic bottles.
There are quite a few shoes to choose from in the Flyknit collection, including running and basketball shoes. Vibrant colors combined with a sleek design ensure an eye-catching pair of shoes that you will love to wear.
Our Pick: Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit – Available from size 7 all the way up to 15, these runners are meant to carry you through long runs. They are breathable and help to transfer energy through every step you take.
Vivobarefoot is a bit different from other shoe brands in that its founders believe that traditional shoes, with foam and other materials made from petrochemicals, are actually hindering our health. Their belief that we are meant to go barefoot is what prompted them to design their very unique footwear that puts as little between your foot and the ground as possible. In line with their natural beliefs are their desires to put as little pressure on the environment as possible, which is why they make shoes made from plastic bottles and sustainable materials.
Vivobarefoot offers active shoes, outdoor shoes, casual shoes, and shoes for everyday wear. The designs are simple yet sophisticated, and each pair has a couple of different colors you can choose from.
Our Pick: Tracker Forest Esc Women’s – These hiking shoes are meant to help you connect to the environment no matter whether the path you take is rugged or simple. They look far less bulky than traditional hiking shoes but are more than capable of letting you make it to your destination with ease.
This brand stands for the reduction of single-use plastic, and to that end, they create eco-hip accessories and footwear made from upcycled, recycled, and sustainable materials. MOVMT also supports eco-minded organizations such as 5 Gyres, which works hard at reducing oceanic plastic waste. The upcycled plastic used by MOVMT comes from bags cleaned from the ocean in Bali.
MOVMT has a small selection of shoes that sport a minimalist yet refined design. They are comfortable and vegan knit with rubber bottoms that offer you the best support for long days spent on your feet.
Our Pick: Blake Black – A quality, specialty cushioned footbed in these shoes makes them performance ready, and they also provide a lot of comfort.
Cariuma believes in “making things in a way that is better for people and the planet”. That’s why they have designed all of their sneakers to be not only sustainable, but of the highest possible quality. All of their materials are responsibly sourced and designed with a timeless silhouette to ensure they can be worn for years to come. Among the materials they use are cork, sugarcane, organic cotton, and recycled plastic bottles.
Cariuma has sneakers for men and women, and they come in slip-on, high top, and low top styles. The aesthetic is classic and simple with solid color designs. There are plenty of sizes, so it should be easy to find the perfect fit.
Our Pick: Stone Black Knit – This high top men’s sneaker fits snug without being too tight, and offers a comfortable, supported step. It’s ideal for a day spent on the go or just for casual wear.
In a concentrated effort to do right by the environment, Rothy’s has ensured that nearly every material they use in the fabrication of their shoes is either sustainable or recycled. In order to keep plastic from reaching landfills, they divert the cargo and then turn those bottles into their signature thread. That thread is then used to make durable bags, shoes, and accessories. They also turn plastic taken from the ocean into machine washable bags.
To look at them, you wouldn’t be able to guess that Rothy’s shoes are made from recycled plastic bottles. They have flats, sneakers, loafers, Mary Janes, sandals and more for women and kids alike. Airy patterns and light colors make any of these shoes a great addition to a summer wardrobe.
Our Pick: White Rainbow – With the bold rainbow striping, these sneakers are sure to draw compliments no matter where you are. They are comfy and machine washable, making them great for day-to-day use or for just chilling around the house.
Etnies makes a variety of different kinds of skate shoes, including vegan. The eco-friendly twist on these shoes is that they are made from recycled materials for the insoles, recycled rubber for the outsoles, and recycled plastic for the canvas uppers. What’s more, if you buy from the Vegan Eco collection, you will be contributing to the company’s reforestation effort: “Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree.”
Etnies has a full lineup of shoes for women, men, and kids. If you want something bright and bold, they have you covered, and the same goes if you’d prefer something a little more subdued. These shoes are built to cushion your foot and are crafted to last a long time, so be prepared for the pair you buy to become your new favorites!
Our Pick: Jameson 2 Eco – This is the company’s most popular shoe silhouette and one of the Vegan Eco line. It’s a low top shoe with an STI Foam Lite 1 insole to ensure that your feet will be cozy and comfortable even after hours spent on your feet.
13. Nothing New
The amount of recycled materials that goes into a pair of Nothing New’s shoes is quite impressive. Recycled fishing nets are used for the heel counters, the bindings are made from recycled cotton, and the outsoles from recycled rubber. The laces, uppers, and labels are all made from recycled plastic. Every pair of sneakers made by Nothing New accounts for 5.6 plastic bottles and 160 gallons of water saved.
Nothing New’s sneaker selection is for both men and women and available in high top and low top styles. With numerous colors to choose from, it should be easy to find your new everyday pair of eco-friendly shoes to wear.
Our Pick: Women’s High Top – With a clean, precise silhouette and your choice of solid color, these sneakers are hip enough to be worn with almost any outfit.
14. The North Face
This brand has committed itself to the goal of becoming 100 percent responsibly sourced by 2025, and in order to meet that goal they have started using renewable, regenerative, and recycled materials in their shoe fabrication. They currently use recycled PET (plastic bottles) in their shoe construction, and also have a program called Clothes the Loop which takes unwanted footwear and clothing and repurposes it.
Whether you’re looking for hiking footwear (fast or light), trail running footwear, sneakers, boots, slippers, or sandals, you will be able to find them at The North Face. Constructed with longevity in mind, this footwear is built to endure rugged conditions, but will do just as well for hanging out at home or with your friends.
Our Pick: Men’s VECTIV Infinite – With a bold yellow and black pattern, these sneakers are a responsive and fast trail shoes that offer incredible cushioning and great traction. These are the perfect shoe people who love to explore the outdoors on foot.