The Ultimate Guide to Eco-Friendly Shoe Shopping

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The footwear industry often receives criticism across environmental, human rights and animal welfare categories. In 2020, 20.5 billion pairs of footwear were produced globally. It can be challenging to find sustainable footwear among this large production in the era of fast fashion, where style triumphs over everything else. 

Finding the perfect pair of sustainable shoes can still be tricky if you don’t have adequate knowledge. Fortunately, some companies are putting in the effort to create eco-friendly footwear to protect the environment. Use this guide to learn how to shop for eco-friendly shoes and get some steps closer to a greener earth.

Research the Material List

The materials used to create shoes play a significant role in determining whether they are ethical. Check out these eco-friendly shoes and read about the natural resources they use to make their products. An ethical organization will fulfill its promises to protect the environment by transparentizing its product materials.

Most eco-friendly shoe companies will use organic cotton or recycled materials in their production. A study found that less than five percent of the world’s end-of-life shoes are recycled due to the materials used to create them. So, ethical shoes use recyclable material to reduce global waste and contribute to a greener environment. 

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Find Out the Working Conditions

The way the company treats its employees is another indicator of whether or not they are operating ethically. Take your time to find out the working conditions of employees in the company that sells shoes you might purchase. Consider factors such as the wage they receive, working hours, age of employees, and any race or gender discrimination.

When a company is ethical, it will be transparent about the working conditions since there is nothing to hide. Although it can be challenging to find out every company’s working conditions, do your best to conduct thorough research before purchasing.

Get Familiar with Symbols

Shoes often have pictograms letting you know what materials the company used in production. You can avoid shoes made from genuine leather or animal skin if you want to avoid shoes with those symbols. Some symbols will also let you know that the shoes are vegan, more likely to be eco-friendly.

When you’re familiar with the symbols, you can make an informed decision about which shoe better suits your lifestyle. One of the most harmful shoes is created with leather as it requires animal skin for its production. It is also toxic for the environment as it would require chemical use to stop the skin from decaying.A picture containing indoor, table, person, window

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Look for Certifications

Some companies may claim to be eco-friendly or sustainable even if they don’t possess the required certifications. If a shoe company claims to be certified, find out which entity certified them and do your research to determine if their claim is legit.

An eco-friendly company can receive certifications from various organizations, such as Leaping Bunny, PETA-Approved Vegan, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

When you learn to identify eco-friendly footwear, your shopping spree will be a breeze. Use this guide to handpick the best pair of shoes that you can be proud of with every step.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.