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10 steps to find the best sustainable sneakers

Are you ready to dive into the realm of sustainable sneakers? Learn what they are, what makes them different, and 10 steps to finding the best ones.

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What’s a footwear that is both a timeless classic and also the trendiest piece you’ll see in a footwear collection?

Now, I don’t know what you’re thinking but there’s only one thing that comes into our minds… and it’s Sustainable Sneakers!

They’re so practical, super trendy, and take at least a couple of years off your age with their hip look. Plus, by being sustainable they even do good for the environment. What’s not to like, right?

So are you ready to dive into the realm of eco-friendly sneakers? We’re going into detail about what they are, what makes them different, what they’re made of, and how you can find the best ones.

So let’s get started!

What are sustainable sneakers?

Whenever your chic “kicks” are designed and manufactured with special consideration for the environment, they can be termed sustainable sneakers.

To elaborate, these sneakers are made out of eco-friendly materials, undergo a non-polluting manufacturing process, follow all ethical guidelines, come in environment-friendly packaging, are durable and long-lasting, and can be disposed of responsibly.

We know that is a long list of things you need to consider to buy just one pair of sneakers. It can get overwhelming. That is why we have put together a comprehensive guide to help you make the best choice for yourself and your planet.

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What are eco-friendly sneakers made of?

According to Wikipedia, most contemporary sneakers are made of synthetic materials like PU, PVC, Nylon, foam, rubber, or polyester. These materials and their processing produce almost 14 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

The best way to curb the carbon footprint is by using natural or organic materials. This is where sustainable sneakers come into the picture.

Eco-friendly sneakers are made of various materials that are chosen for their minimal environmental impact.

Here are some common materials used in the production of eco-friendly sneakers:

Recycled Materials: Many eco-friendly sneakers incorporate recycled materials such as:

  • Recycled polyester: Made from post-consumer plastic bottles or recycled polyester fabric scraps.
  • Recycled rubber: Obtained from recycled tyres or other rubber sources.
  • Recycled plastics: Utilized for various components such as outsoles, midsoles, or even upper materials.

Organic Cotton: Organic cotton is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilisers, reducing environmental pollution and promoting soil health.

Hemp: Hemp is a versatile and sustainable material that requires less water, pesticides, and land compared to traditional crops like cotton. It can be used in various parts of the shoe, including uppers and laces.

Bamboo: Bamboo is a fast-growing and renewable resource that can be used to create fabrics for shoe uppers. It requires minimal water and no pesticides for cultivation.

Cork: Cork is a natural and sustainable material obtained from the bark of cork oak trees. It is lightweight, durable, and biodegradable, making it suitable for insoles, midsoles, or even outsoles.

Recycled Leather: Some eco-friendly sneakers use recycled leather from discarded leather goods or scraps from the leather industry, reducing the demand for new leather production.

Plant-Based Materials: Some innovative eco-friendly sneakers incorporate plant-based materials such as:

  • Piñatex: A leather alternative made from pineapple leaf fibres.
  • Mycelium leather: A vegan leather alternative made from mushroom roots.
  • Bio-based plastics: Derived from renewable sources such as corn or sugarcane.

Natural Rubber: Sourced from rubber trees, natural rubber is biodegradable and can be used for outsoles or other components of eco-friendly sneakers.

Water-Based Glues and Dyes: Eco-friendly sneakers often use water-based adhesives and dyes instead of solvent-based ones, reducing harmful emissions and pollutants.

By utilising these materials, eco-friendly sneakers aim to minimise their environmental footprint while still providing consumers with stylish and comfortable footwear options.

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How are sustainable sneakers different from the contemporary ones?

Let’s rewind all the sustainability considerations we discussed while explaining what makes sustainable sneakers sustainable. Those values are exactly how these sneakers are different and frankly, much superior to the ones we have worn our entire lives.

Not sure what we mean?

Here’s a lowdown of the entire thing:

1. Materials

Sustainable sneakers prioritise eco-friendly materials, such as recycled polyester, organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, cork, and plant-based alternatives like Piñatex or mycelium leather. In contrast, contemporary sneakers may rely more heavily on synthetic materials like PU leather, nylon, and traditional leather, which can have higher environmental impacts due to their manufacturing processes and resource usage.

2. Sourcing

Sustainable sneakers often source materials responsibly, considering factors such as organic certification, fair trade practices, and reduced environmental impact. This involves using recycled or upcycled materials, as well as ensuring that materials are sourced from suppliers with ethical labour practices.

In contrast, contemporary sneakers may not always prioritise these considerations in material sourcing.

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3. Manufacturing

Sustainable sneakers are typically produced using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, such as water-based glues and dyes, energy-efficient production methods, and waste-reduction strategies. Manufacturers may also prioritise renewable energy sources and carbon offsetting initiatives to minimise their carbon footprint. In contrast, contemporary sneakers are manufactured using conventional methods that generate more waste and emissions.

4. Labour Practices

Sustainable sneaker brands often prioritize fair labour practices throughout their supply chains, ensuring that workers receive fair wages, safe working conditions, and other benefits. This includes transparency and accountability in supply chain management to prevent issues such as exploitation or unsafe working conditions.

While many contemporary sneaker brands also adhere to labour standards, sustainability-focused brands may place a stronger emphasis on social responsibility.

5. Durability and Reparability

Sustainable sneakers are designed to be durable and long-lasting, with an emphasis on quality construction and materials that withstand wear and tear. Some sustainable brands also offer repair services or replacement parts to extend the lifespan of their products, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

In contrast, contemporary sneakers are usually high on fast fashion and may prioritise style and trends over durability, leading to shorter product lifespans and increased waste.

6. Packaging

Sustainable sneakers often come in minimal, recyclable, or biodegradable packaging to minimise waste and environmental impact. Packaging materials should be sourced responsibly, and brands may implement initiatives to reduce packaging waste throughout the supply chain.

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10 Steps to the best eco-friendly sneakers

With the market flooding with options, choosing the best natural sneakers that match your style preferences and sustainability values can be a challenge. But we’ve curated a step-by-step guide to help you make the best choice and get the most out of your hard-earned money.

Here are 10 steps to shop for the best eco-sneakers:

Define your style preferences:

Take some time to reflect on your personal style preferences. Consider factors such as colours, patterns, materials, and silhouettes that you typically gravitate towards in footwear.

Research sustainable sneakers brands:

Start by researching sustainable sneaker brands that prioritise eco-friendly materials, ethical labour practices, and transparent supply chains. Use online resources, sustainability-focused publications, and social media platforms to discover brands that align with your values.

Identify key sustainability values:

Determine which sustainability values are most important to you. This could include factors such as eco-friendly materials, ethical sourcing, fair labour practices, durability, and transparency. Prioritise these values as you evaluate different sneaker options.

Explore material options:

Look for sneakers made from sustainable materials such as recycled polyester, organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, cork, and plant-based alternatives. Consider which materials resonate most with your sustainability values and offer the aesthetic and performance features you desire.

Check certifications and standards:

Verify if the brands you’re interested in have any certifications or adhere to specific sustainability standards. Look for certifications like Fair Trade, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and Bluesign, which indicate that the brand follows stringent sustainability criteria in its production processes.

Consider durability and quality:

Prioritise sneakers that are durable and well-made to ensure longevity. Evaluate the quality of construction and materials to determine if the sneakers will withstand wear and tear over time. You can also look for brands that offer repair services or replacement parts to extend the lifespan of their products.

Evaluate style options:

Explore the style options offered by sustainable sneaker brands. Consider factors such as silhouette, design details, and colourways to find sneakers that complement your personal style preferences. Whether you prefer classic, minimalist designs or bold, contemporary looks, there are sustainable options available to suit your taste.

Assess fit and comfort:

Ensure that the sneakers provide the comfort and support you need for your daily activities. Look for features such as cushioning, arch support, and breathable materials to enhance comfort and performance. Consider trying on sneakers or reading reviews to assess fit and comfort before making a purchase.

Read reviews and recommendations:

Seek out reviews from other customers and recommendations from friends, family, or online communities who have experience with sustainable sneakers. Their insights can provide valuable feedback and help you make an informed decision.

Make your selection:

Based on your research and considerations, narrow down your options and select the sustainable sneakers that best match your style preferences and sustainability values. Make your purchase with confidence, knowing that your footwear choice reflects your commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

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Looking for the best women’s sustainable sneakers? Start here

Introducing: Borås – Grape Leather Classic Sneakers by 1People
Minimalist design, clean finish, made-to-last, and eco-friendly materials… the Boras sneakers are setting a new standard for conscious fashionistas everywhere.

What makes these sneakers truly revolutionary is their innovative biomaterial, VEGEA. Derived from 100% organic cotton and coated with bio compounds extracted from post-wine-making waste, VEGEA not only showcases environmental ingenuity but also delivers unparalleled quality and performance.

Handcrafted with care, these sneakers feature a plant-based outsole made from the milk of the Hevea tree, an organic cotton lining, an ecological suede heel counter, recycled polyester laces, recycled cork + PU foam + BIO-ECO microfibre insole, and a recycled polyester thread embroidery brand logo.

Versatile in design, these sneakers effortlessly transition from casual outings to urban adventures, making them the perfect choice for the conscious woman on the go. Whether you’re strolling through city streets or embarking on weekend getaways, these sneakers are designed to withstand the test of time, season after season.

Packaged in attractive, foldable packaging made from 100% post-consumer waste paper, these sneakers not only arrive in style but also offer a sustainable storage solution for your eco-conscious lifestyle.

Available colours:
Black, Multi, White

Care instructions:
Embrace mindful care with these sneakers, storing them in a dry area away from direct sunlight and cleaning them with recycled fabrics after each use.

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Making Sustainable Lifestyle Transformation Easy

SiS is more than a simple e-commerce platform. Our mission is to encourage, help, and inspire people to look for sustainable sourcing, reduce production waste, carbon footprint, and make conscious choices.

Whether you’re on the hunt for sustainable clothingclean beauty, or ethical homeware, our team has done the hard work for you, carefully screening brands before ever being displayed at SIS.

So all that’s left for you is to shop with peace of mind.