Believe it or not, many sneakers out there aren’t vegan or sustainable – they are made with animal products such as leather, wool padding or might even be proofed with beeswax. You might be wondering: which shoes are plant-based and eco-friendly then? We’re here to help with some of our top picks so you can choose ethically and sustainably without having to compromise on comfort or style.
1) Adidas Originals Samba
As a part of the brand’s Our Icons Go Vegan initiative to veganise some of its most popular designs over the years, Adidas Originals has launched an animal-free version of its popular Samba shoe. The iconic design from the 1980s ditches leather for a PU-coated recycled polyester upper, following on from the company’s promise in January that it will use at least 50% recycled materials and plastic waste in its products manufactured in 2020 onwards.
2) The Roger
Tennis legend Roger Federer has partnered with Zurich-based footwear brand On to create the The Roger Centre Court 0-Series. The first limited-edition shoe debuted in the collection, called The Roger, are made using animal-free leather, which is 30% less carbon-intensive to produce compared to traditional cow’s leather and are cruelty-free. It is also designed to minimise material consumption, weighing in at just one third of the weight of typical sneakers thanks to its lightweight Cloutec sole with a hidden “Speedboard” feature developed by On. Unfortunately, fans are going to need to wait to purchase a pair, as these were quickly sold out!
3) Nike Space Hippie Collection
Nike has created an entirely new collection of eco-friendly plant-based sneakers this year. Called the Space Hippie Collection, the range has four vegan-friendly sneakers featuring 85% recycled flyknit upper parts made from recycled plastic bottles, t-shirts and yarn scraps from factory waste. The cushioning is made using 15% grind rubber and 100% reprocessed foam, making it Nike’s lowest-ever carbon footprint shoe to date.
4) Reebok Forever Floatride GROW
Reebok’s Forever Floatride GROW shoe is the brand’s first completely plant-based performance running shoe. It’s made using no petroleum plastics at all and uses 100% natural plant materials such as sustainably-sourced eucalyptus trees, castor beans, natural rubber and algae foam harvested from invasive growth areas.
5) Puma First Mile Collection
Puma also makes it on the list for its First Mile collection, a range of eco-friendly shoes made in collaboration with the British waste recycling company First Mile, whose portion of profits go to charities supporting a number of low-income communities in Haiti, Honduras and Taiwan. Every shoe in the collection A (plus tees, shorts, pants and jackets too!) is made with at least 83% recovered ocean plastic waste. According to the company, over 190,000 plastic bottles were used to make the sustainable yarns used in the products.
6) Adidas Continental 80
Adidas makes it on the list again, this time for its vegan Continental 80 Originals shoe. It swaps out leather for recycled PU fabric, and also features an eco-friendly algae-based EVA foam in its midsole. According to the company, the algae used in each pair of its shoes has helped to clean an estimated 30 litres of polluted lake water.
French sustainable sneaker brand Veja deserves a spot on this list with at least one in three of its products in its entire collection being vegan-friendly. Its vegan sneaker options are either made from canvas or ditch leather for an alternative made from a certified organic cotton fabric covered with a corn-based coating, while the sole is made from natural rubber. To further underline its green commitment, the brand recently opened a Test Hub store, where customers can get their Veja pairs cleaned, repaired or recycled.
8) Allbirds x Adidas Low Carbon Performance Shoe
Eco footwear brand Allbirds has joined forces with Adidas to create the lowest ever carbon footprint recorded for a sport performance shoe. Though technically, this sustainable plant-based sneaker has yet to launch on the market, the project has been underway for nearly a year. It will first have to go through Allbird’s life cycle assessment tool to analyse its carbon footprint, as per Allbirds’ pledge to make public the carbon information of every single shoe in its sneaker collection online.
Lead image courtesy of Nike.