“I think when a surfer becomes a surfer, it’s almost like an obligation to be an environmentalist at the same time.”
Like a lot of people, I have a fascination with living a mobile, off-grid life. I love watching YouTube videos of people who are living the van life – especially those who’ve made really cool and unique living spaces by refurbishing vans, trailers, and RVs. I’ve wanted to share some of my favorite van life stories on UniGuide for a while, but there are so many great one that it’s just too many for one blog post. So, I narrowed it down a little for this post, and I promise to share more later.
Here are some of my favorite videos, stories, and Instagram posts about a special kind of van life – and that’s the surf van life. I’ve always had a soft spot for surfers because so many of them are stewards of the sea: surfers care about the environment. They know what it feels like to be in harmony with the natural rhythm of the Earth – you could even say the Universe – and they want to protect its sanctity. So, in tribute to surfers and other nomadic souls, here are some really cool surf vans.
By far, @surfer_vans is one of my favorite Instagram profiles: a page dedicated entirely to surf vans! OK, it’s true that many of these are gas guzzling vehicles, but I want to believe the people who own them are making up for that environmental negative by living in a more environmentally conscious way in other areas of their lives. If the surf van is your only home, well, I think that does it.
One of my favorite YouTube channels is Living Big in a Tiny House with Bryce Langston. In this episode, he talks to a couple from the Czech Republic who convert an ambulance into an epic surf van to tour around in on a trip through New Zealand.
Here’s another couple living as working digital nomads in their converted surf van. This video is from Dylan Magaster.
And if you can’t have anything other than a Mercedes, check out this Sprinter remodel, presented by Sam Butement:
What’s better than a great looking pair of sunglasses? Two words: recycled sunglasses. I was super excited to find so many forward-thinking, socially conscious companies making stylish sunglasses out of recycled materials. When you learn about the inspiration behind these companies’ products and brands, plus the way so many give back by supporting charitable causes, I think you’ll feel as psyched as I did when I first read about them.
As you’re probably already aware, we’re experiencing a global plastic waste crisis, so recycling plastic into other useful products helps to keep it out of our oceans and landfills. It turns out that sunglasses are an ideal use for recycled materials, as they can utilize small, leftover scraps. The innovative companies showcased here are making recycled sunglasses out of recycled plastic waste from the ocean, as well as a host of other reclaimed materials, including skateboard decks, aluminum, wood flooring, vinyl records, and more.
We humans buy a lot of sunglasses.
People all over the world wear sunglasses, and let’s admit it – many of us own more than one pair. In 2019, it’s expected that Americans alone will buy over 200 million pairs of sunglasses. (Statista.) When you combine this with the number purchased by people from other countries, you can see there’s a massive market for this accessory. After your cell phone charger, sunscreen, razor, and toothbrush – sunglasses are the most common item that you’ll forget to pack when leaving for vacation. So, what do you do? You buy a new pair.
Thankfully, recycled sunglasses and those made with other eco-friendly materials, like wood, bamboo, and bioplastic, are hitting the beaches and streets around the world. And they can’t get here fastest enough! In addition to recycled sunglasses, if you’d like to see cool shades made from other eco-friendly materials, check out my post on wood frame and bamboo sunglasses.
Blue Planet says their goals are straightforward: “to help protect the planet, change lives, and have fun.” Founded in Santa Barbara, California, the company has been hard at work since 2009 bringing socially responsible and eco-friendly eyewear to people all over the world. They don’t just stick to the basics, either. They strive to satisfy all kinds of customers, with eyewear made from a range of sustainable materials, including recycled plastic, recycled metal, wood, bamboo, and cork.
With every pair of glasses they sell, Blue Planet donates a pair to someone in need via their global sight giving partners. To date, they’ve helped over 400,000 visually impaired people around the world.
Here’s Lisa Lawenda, a VP at Blue Planet, and Matt Weinstein, the company’s brand manager, talking about Blue Planet’s Visualize Change program, which helps restore sight for people around the world.:
Blue Planet offers a variety of lenses as well. They provide standard polarized lenses and lenses with maximum UV protection for extra-sensitive eyes. In addition to their super cool sunglasses, they also make reading glasses.
Unwilling to sit back and let the eight million metric tons of plastic pollution destroy our oceans, the founders of Norton Point have made it their mission to clean up the mess and recycle ocean plastic into high-quality, durable sunglasses. Their sunglasses are all made with recycled ocean plastic and plant-based materials. Based in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, Norton Point donates 5% of their net profits to global ocean clean-up, education, and remediation practices.
Here’s a video featuring Shaun Frankson, co-founder of ThePlasticBank, an organization that helps monetize plastic waste by exchanging it for currency to help people in impoverished places. Shaun talks about how Norton Point is repurposing plastic from by ThePlasticBank into their eco-friendly shades.
Norton Point offers a large selection of men’s and women’s sunglasses, all of which come standard with solid stainless steel hinges. Their lenses feature 100% UVA and UVB protection and an anti-reflective coating, so you’ll be ready for the most intensely sunny days.
Solo Eyewear isn’t just a brand; it’s a remarkable project. Solo is devoted to service and giving back: With every pair of sunglasses they sell, they help restore the vision of a person in need, whether it’s an elderly person in an underdeveloped nation thousands of miles away or an impoverished child closer to home.
Solo Eyewear’s sunglasses are made with 100% sustainable materials, including recycled plastic and repurposed bamboo, plus they’re lightweight and durable. Their lenses are UV protected and prescription-friendly. When it comes to selection, Solo offers a variety of shapes and colors. If you want to look great and be a part of something greater, you can’t go wrong with Solo Eyewear.
A pioneer in the sustainable eyewear industry, Boise, Idaho-based Proof Eyewear has been making eco-friendly sunglasses since 2010. In addition to using sustainable materials in their products, Proof donates to charitable organization around the world. Through their Do Good Program, they donate 12% of their annual profits to these causes.
Proof integrates sustainable materials like recycled aluminum, FSC-certified wood, and recycled skateboard decks into their designs. And, they use high-quality lenses. All of their lenses are UVA and UVB protected. If you need prescription lenses, you can easily switch out their standard lenses for your own.
Here’s a video from Proof featuring their aviators with recycled aluminum frames:
Dex Shades is another brand that’s recycling used skateboard decks and converting them into high quality shades. Each pair of their eco-friendly skateboard sunglasses is subtly colorful and unique. Plus, they’re comfortable to wear and super lightweight, weighing less than 1 oz. Dex Shades have polarized lenses and spring-fit hinges for laid back comfort. And as if you need more persuading beyond how cool these sunglasses are, Dex Shades plants a tree for every product they sell.
If there’s a luxury brand of skateboard sunglasses, it has to be 7plis. They have a high price point, but these recycled shades have a sleek look that’s all their own. 7plis mixes chic design with a cool, distressed look that conveys the history of the materials. You can imagine some gnarly stunts were done on the skateboards from which these sunglasses originated. The lenses all offer 100% UV protection.
Amoloma is another eco-conscious brand that makes cool shades out of recycled and Earth-friendly materials, including used skateboards. They offer a range of color combinations, including red, green, black, brown, and blue. All of their lenses are polarized for optimal UV protection.
Sk8rings is another designer that creates unique, colorful sunglasses made with upcycled skateboards. Based in Serbia, they also make a range of other recycled items, including rings, guitars, guitar knobs, and more. The lenses on their recycled sunglasses are polarized and offer 100% UV protection.
If you’re a music fan, these cool sunglasses made with upcycled vinyl records are a must-have. San Diego-based Spexwax reclaims unplayable vinyl records and turns them into cutting edge eyewear that epitomizes urban cool. They call their sunglasses “upcycled art for your face.” I wholeheartedly agree.
11. Recycled Records Sunglasses by Vinylize
Base in Budapest, Vinylize also hand makes great looking eyewear from upcycled vinyl records.
Woodzee handcrafts their recycled wood sunglasses from reclaimed oak, madrone, and maple hardwood flooring. Each pair is unique. Their shades are comfortable and lightweight, weighing less than 1.5 oz. And their lenses are polarized with 100% UV400 protection.
For all of you wine lovers (yeah, I’m sure there are a few of you out there :o), check out these truly unique sunglasses make with recycled wine corks. Moon Shades actually uses the byproducts from the wine cork manufacturing process. This means these sunglasses are made with reclaimed, natural sustainable materials. It’s hard to get better than that on the eco-friendly scale! The lenses on these eco-conscious shades are polarized. And, as you can see in the photo, these sunglasses float, plus that have comfortable flexibly arms.
In a world of wayfarers and aviators, there is Zanziba Ri, offering sunglasses that are unlike any I have ever seen before. They incorporate upcycled African fabrics into their unique designs, creating beautiful sunglasses that will undoubtedly have people stopping you in the street and asking, “Where did you get those shades?” Not stopping at beautiful design, the company donates 10% of proceeds to educational programs in Tanzania.
Bureo collects old fishing nets that are polluting the ocean, breaks them down into tiny pellets, and recycles them into a recycled plastic that makes some very cool shades.
Bureo’s founders created a recycling program in Chile dubbed “Net Positiva,” which provides collection points where fishermen and other locals can drop off discarded fishing nets that are polluting the ocean and harming marine life. According to Bureo, fishing nets make up 10% of the plastic pollution in the ocean. The Net Positiva program gets the fishing nets out of the sea, while providing financial incentives to local communities to help with collection. Bureo also makes other recycled products, like skateboards and Frisbees. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll develop next.
Here’s a video from Bureo about the Net Positiva program:
Karün is a sustainable eyewear company based in Sweden that makes sunglasses with recycled fishing nets, recycled carbon fiber, recycled denim scraps, and other Earth-friendly materials. The company credits nature as their best “inventor and teacher.” With strong, eco-conscious values, the Karün team is focused on creating “a movement of like-minded people that trust that we can change the way we interact with our planet. We want to prove that it is possible to make the best quality products, but in a completely different way.”
Dick Moby’s sunglasses frames are made with 97% recycled acetate. Based in the Netherlands, the company puts a special emphasis on reducing plastic waste by continually recycling it. They offer a wide variety of frames shapes and colors.
Paper & Paper is a Spanish company whose philosophy is to “move away from fast-fashion to embrace the handmade movement.” They create their one-of-a-kind frames by laser-cutting upcycled paper pieces and then placing them by hand into an acetate base. The process gives their eyeglass frames a cool 3D effect. The company offers frames made from comic books, newspapers, and other types of paper.
Eco-friendly sunglasses make a fashion forward statement in today’s world, and wood frame sunglasses are some of the coolest to hit the streets in recent years. Plus, the selection of stylish bamboo sunglasses has never been better. In a way, both are the quintessential eco-conscious shades because they’re unmistakably “plant-based.”
People often refer to bamboo as a wood, as in “I’m looking for bamboo wood sunglasses,” because bamboo has the same aesthetic qualities as real wood. However, bamboo is actually a fast-growing grass – it holds the world’s record for the fastest growing plant.
In addition to being Earth-friendly, both wood and bamboo sunglasses are lightweight, so they’re comfortable enough to wear all day long. Not to mention, many styles float, making them the perfect accessory for having fun in the water on a sunny summer day.
Today, you can find wood-framed sunglasses in cherry wood, maple, pear, and other varieties. And because every tree is different, no two pairs are exactly alike. Some designers are also making sunglasses from reclaimed wood that was previously used for flooring, skateboard decks, and other products.
Aside from the aesthetics, why should you buy sunglasses that are made with wood frames, bamboo, or other sustainable materials?
All over the world, people wear sunglasses. This year, Americans alone will buy 200 million pairs. With our growing plastic pollution crisis, it only makes sense to reduce the amount of virgin plastic we buy. Purchasing sunglasses that use less virgin plastic, or none at all, is the optimal way to go.
Here are some innovative brands making cool sunglasses with wood and bamboo frames:
As the name implies, Woodies is all about wood sunglasses. Their brand has a fun retro vibe, but their materials, including polarized lenses, are all cutting edge. The company is devoted to making petrol-plastic a thing of the past. Woodies offers a broad selection of men’s and women’s frame shapes in an impressive collection of woods, including rose wood, zebra wood, walnut, and more.
Designer Paul Ven creates artisanal real wood sunglasses in walnut, ebony, zebra wood, oak, and maple. Paul Ven’s designed are created in London, and their Etsy page claims,
“People (especially in London and probably other big cities) who don’t have these wood sunglasses will express high levels of jealousy towards you. They’re a real head turner. So be noticed, and be cheeky as a fox.”
Every pair of Paul Vens is unique, and you can make them even more so (if that’s possible) by getting a custom message engraved inside the arm of the sunglasses.
They come with polarized, shatterproof polycarbonate lenses that offer 100% UVA/UVB protection, and ever pair has stainless steel spring hinges. But wait, there’s more: These babies float.
Based in Sudbury, Canada, Mitchell Made is another designer that crafts beautiful wood and bamboo sunglasses by hand. Their styles are unique, but with a vintage feel. Mitchell Made ships their sunglasses with a faux leather case.
Hammockable plants five trees for every pair of sunglasses they sell in partnership with the nonprofit Trees for the Future. The organization helps families transition from destructive farming techniques to a forest garden system that helps sustain them for the long term. Hammockable gets some of the natural maple wood for their sunglasses from unused wood scraps that are left over from the production of skateboards.
If you’ve got a party coming up and want to give your guests a fun, eco-friendly gift, check out the selection of custom wood and bamboo sunglasses offered by Etsy artisans. A number of companies, like My Personal Memories, will engrave names and slogans on the arms of the shades.
4est Shades’ wooden sunglasses are all natural and handmade out of real maple and cherry wood. The company also make styles in bamboo.
All of their eco-friendly sunglasses are polarized to provide the UV protection you’d expect from any top brand. Plus, their high-quality wooden and bamboo sunglasses are super durable. Every pair comes with an engraved bamboo case and a microfiber cloth for upkeep and safekeeping. Eco-conscious in both product and practice, 4est Shades plants two trees for every pair of sunglasses they sell.
Blue Planet is another socially conscious eyewear company whose brand means a lot more than quality eyewear. Based in Santa Barbara, California, they create sunglasses and corrective eyewear with a variety of sustainable materials, including wood, bamboo, recycled metal, and recycled plastic. You can see their recycled styles in my post “Recycled Sunglasses: Look Good While Doing Good.”
With every pair of glasses Blue Planet sells, they donate a pair of glasses to a person in need through their charitable partners. To date, they’ve improved the sight for over 400,000 visually impaired people around the world.
Here’s a video featuring Lisa Lawenda, a VP at Blue Planet, and Matt Weinstein, the company’s brand manager, talking about Blue Planet’s Visualize Change program, which helps restore sight for people around the world:
Amoloma is another brand that’s making eco-friendly sunglasses in sustainable materials like pear wood, bamboo, recycled skateboard decks, and also cellulose acetate. Their lenses are all polarized for optimal UV protection. And if you’re looking for more colorful options, check out their styles made from recycled skateboards in my post “Recycled Sunglasses: Look Good While Doing Good.”
Socially conscious brand Proof Eyewear donates 12% of their annual profits to charitable organizations around the world. They started making their wooden sunglasses from scraps in the family’s sawmill, and they eventually expanded to using recycled aluminum and bioplastics in their frames.
You may have seen their pitch on Shark Tank from a few years ago. I loved story when I heard it. Little did I imagine at the time that I would be blogging about Proof Eyewear someday.
In their wood framed sunglasses, Proof used FSC certified wood. FSC is short for the Forest Stewardship Council, which is an international nonprofit that sets global standards for forest products. These standards help to promote eco-friendly, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.
Proof’s lenses are UVA and UVB protected, and if you wear prescription lenses, you can easily swap them out in Proof’s eco-friendly frames.
Woodzee hand makes their wood framed sunglasses in a variety of sustainable and reclaimed woods, including madrone, oak, and maple. Their shades are comfortable and lightweight, and each pair is one of a kind. All of their lenses are polarized with 100% UV400 protection.
Tree Tribe is an outdoor lifestyle brand that plants a whopping 10 trees for every sale they make. They design a number of eco-friendly products, including water bottles, eco-conscious clothing, and of course – cool, sustainable sunglasses.
Their real wood sunglasses have interchangeable, scratch resistant polarized lenses that offer UV400 protection. You can easily swap out their lenses for prescription lenses, or if you’re just in the mood to change lens colors.
Here’s a video that gives you a taste of what Tree Tribe is all about:
Robin Wood is a designer I found on Etsy that handmakes artisanal sunglasses from sustainable bamboo. Every pair has polarized lenses with UV400 protection, and they come with a two-year warranty. The company also designs wooden watches that have eco-friendly cork wristbands, so be sure to check out their Etsy store.
Solo Eyewear is another brand with an inspiring give-back philosophy. They also focus on helping to restore vision for people in need.
All of their eco-friendly sunglasses are made with 100% sustainable materials, including repurposed bamboo and recycled plastic. And their lenses are UV protected and prescription-friendly. Their bamboo arm sunglasses come in a variety of frame shapes, including wayfarer, aviator, and round.
After writing a couple blog posts about strappy high heeled and wedge heeled sandals for women, my pal Cathy, who happens to be vegan and an Ironwoman triathlete a few times over, commented, “What about vegan sport sandals? I love sporty sandals!”
And who doesn’t? Sport sandals basically give you the freedom to go barefoot everywhere without hurting your feet! And does it make any sense to wear leather sandals in the water? Heck no, especially when there are so many vegan sport sandals that will outperform those made with animal skin any day.
So, this post is for all of you active guys and gals out there who are ramping up for summer fun in and out of the water.
(One caveat I’d like to make on the the shoes presented in this post: I’ve done a lot of research, including contacting the shoe manufacturers, and I have not conclusively been able to rule out if animal byproducts are used in the adhesives in some of these shoes. However, according to Wikipedia, glues that contain animal byproducts are more commonly found in products such as wooden musical instruments, gesso, and gelatin; not shoes. PETA says that animal-based glues are rarely used in shoes anymore because synthetic adhesives outperform them in consistency and flexibility. Thus, with this information, I focused on the sport sandals I could find that are made with manmade materials and do not contain animal skin.)
And now for some historical context on athletic sandals as we know them today…
The original sport sandals, Tevas were as revolutionary to the world of sandals as Nikes were to track and field shoes. In both cases, their invention was the result of an epiphany born of necessity.
Before Nikes came along, the best running shoes were the kind with metal cleats. Needless to say, those cleats didn’t lend themselves well to every kind of surface you might want to run on. The lightbulb moment came when Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman and his wife Barbara were making waffles for breakfast one morning in 1971.
They were brainstorming ideas on how to make traditional track shoes with good traction but without the use of metal cleats. As Barbara pulled a waffle off the waffle iron, Bill had an aha moment, and the famous Nike waffle soles were born. On that day, running shoes underwent a metamorphosis that would pave the way for a cultural revolution – today, sneakers have gone way beyond athletic shoes. (In other words, Air Jordans are Air Jordans not just because of Michael Jordan, but because some people like to make their own waffles.)
A Fashion Revolution Born on the Colorado River
The inspiration for Tevas originated from the same need to make something that already existed better. The year was 1982 and Mark Thatcher had a summer job working as a river guide on the Colorado River. River guides continuously make the transition from carrying rafts off of trailers, onto rocky shores, and into the river. They’re on the raft, then they’re out of the boat again, sometimes swimming, sometimes walking in the water on the riverbed, and then hauling the rafts ashore.
(As a side note, my mom is from Buena Vista, Colorado, a town on the Arkansas River, which is a mecca for river rafting and kayaking. So, you could say that this blog post about the origins and merits of semi-amphibious shoes is one that is dear to my heart and long overdue.)
At the time that Mark Thatcher was serving as a river guide in the Grand Canyon, the only real options for footwear were wearing hiking boots or a pair of lightweight sneakers you packed in your bag – both of which got heavy and clunky when wet (and not to mention, were nearly impossible to swim in, if the need arose), or else – flip flops, which had no traction on the riverbed and came off too easily in the water.
The first pair of Tevas were created when a frustrated Mark Thatcher used a couple of Velcro watch bands to attach his flip flops to his feet so they wouldn’t come off. And from that day in the Grand Canyon, sandals (indeed – summer fashion) would never be the same.
1. Teva’s Original Sandal (Is Vegan!)
The Original Teva Sandal harkens back to Teva’s roots with a flip flop-style toe strap and an adjustable ankle strap that stays secure with Velcro.
One of my favorite women’s styles, the Kayenta Sandal has a grooved yoga mat-inspired footbed for good traction and narrow, comfy straps over the front of your foot. The heel is about 1” and the front platform is about 0.5”. Plus, there’s a padded heel strap for walking comfort. This style comes in a few different color combinations, including black, purple, green, and gray.
The Tirra Athletic Sandal is one of Teva’s most popular styles and it gets top reviews from customers. It’s water- and trail-ready – for wherever your outdoor adventures take you. The tractioned heel is about 1.5” and the front platform is 0.5”. This style comes in a bunch of color combinations, including gray, galaxy blue, white-multi, hot pink, black, and more.
The Toachi 2 is designed for maximum action with padded straps and three adjustable hook-and-loop straps, plus a rear pull-up loop. The heel is about 1.5” and the platform is 1”. It’s also been treated with Microban, a zinc-based odor-resistant treatment. This style comes in black, gray, and espresso brown.
These vegan Tevas are a style that even the hardcore fashionistas can have fun with. The high-platforms come in bright colors, including yellow, red, turquoise, black, pink, orange, lavender, white, and others. The heel measures 1.75″ and the platform is 1.25″.
Chaco’s shoes are made in the U.S.A. in their factory in Michigan. They’re one of my favorite brands because they have some styles (their Ecotread line) that are made with recycled materials. You can see more Ecotread styles in my post about recycled flip flops. The company also has a repair program, which lets you send your worn out Chacos to them for repairs that extend their life. They’ll also make custom Chacos with your unique specifications.
Here’s a video with details on how Chacos are made:
Chaco’s Z Cloud Sandals come in styles with toe rings or open toes. The cushioned heel makes them comfortable for action sports or walking on rugged terrain. And, they’ve been treated with an antimicrobial application for odor control.
With a name like that, these vegan sport sandals should be hard to resist. Skechers has also gotten into the vegan sport sandals scene and offers a variety of styles that are lightweight and easy on your budget. These have super flexible soles and a buckle clip for easy on and off.
This women’s style by Skechers is available with both black or white soles, which make them perfect for boating. Like all of Skechers’ athletic sandals, they’re super lightweight. This style comes in black, charcoal, natural, and navy blue – all of which have a light-colored sole. The black style is also available with a black sole.
Merrell’s is known for making a lot of leather sandals, so I was happy to see they’re now producing more styles of athletic sandals in animal-friendly, vegan materials. The Women’s Twist Strappy Sandal has a faux leather upper and a soft microfiber lining. The soles have the signature Merrell air cushioning, making them perfect for wearing on rugged terrain.
The women’s Terran Sandal, also by Merrell, has a vegan leather straps that are padded with neoprene for extra comfort. The rubber platform is 0.5” and the white soles make these sandals perfect for boating. This style comes in black, gray and green, or red and blue – all with white soles.
Famous for their flip flops, it’s great to see that Reef offers a vegan sport sandal for women. This style has a comfortable elastic ankle strap for easy movement and an EVA footbed. The toe post and t-strap are made with vegan faux leather.
17. Oso Vegan Sport Sandals for Men and Women by Luna
Inspired by the sandals worn by the Tarahumara people of the Copper Canyon in Mexico, which were made famous in Christopher McDougal’s book Born to Run, Luna Sandals are designed for action. They have Vibram Flexmor soles and high-performance, adjustable laces for the perfect fit. The Luna Oso sport sandal is perfect for traveling, day hiking, kayaking, or just bumming around town.
Xero’s ultra-lightweight sport sandals are prefect for anyone who loves to go barefoot but wants a little extra protection. According to Xero, these sandals are 76% lighter and thinner than other sport sandals, but with all the protection and comfort you need. You can roll them up for traveling, and roll them out for sightseeing, stand up paddle boarding, outdoor yoga, and more.
New Balance offers this super comfortable athletic sandal for men with padded, adjustable neoprene straps. They have a lightweight EVA outsole and a Rapid Rebound comfort footbed. They’re available in black, navy blue, and brown.
If you need a little more protection from your athletic sandals, here are some vegan styles that will protect your toes.
20. Lightweight Amphibious Sport Sandals by Clorts
Is it a sandal or a hiking shoe? It’s both! These lightweight semi-amphibious athletic sandals by Clorts have a Lycra mesh lining, Velcro straps, and protective rubber toe caps. They’re perfect for hiking, playing on the beach, kayaking, rafting, and more.
The first time I ever saw a pair of Vibram toe shoes I was reminded of when I was a kid and my brothers and I put gloves on our feet and play Planet of the Apes. (Yes, we actually did that… hours of entertainment!)
It can be argued that Vibrams are more shoes than sandals, but I thought they deserved to be in this post. Not only are they vegan, but they’re perfect for outdoor wear in the water or on land. Vibram now has a variety of men’s and women’s styles. And all are made with the famous Vibram soles and stretchy vegan-friendly uppers.
23. Faux Leather Closed Toe Sport Sandals by Northside
If you like the look of leather, but want to go cruelty-free, Northside makes men’s and women’s sport sandals with faux leather and faux suede uppers that are designed to get wet. They’ve got neoprene padding and enclosed toes to keep your feet safe and comfortable in any activity. Plus, they have an easy on and off bungee lacing system.
“This is truly a place where nature reminds you just how little you are in this big, incredible world.” –Travel Writer Breanna Wilson in Forbes
With a mountainous desert landscape and a coastline along the Arabian Sea, the Sultanate of Oman has great opportunities for eco adventure travelers.
As the world weans itself off of oil, Middle Eastern countries like Oman are putting a stronger emphasis on tourism to fuel their economies. According to a story in The Telegraph, Oman plans to double the number of tourists visiting their nation from 2.5 to 5 million people by 2020.
Oman is an absolute monarchy. The Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has ruled since 1970 and, according to Wikipedia, he’s the longest serving current ruler in the Middle East. Needless to say, culturally Oman is different from the U.S. and other democratic countries. For example, Sharia Law is upheld in the courts, particularly for family-law matters.
Middle Eastern Hospitality That Doesn’t Disappoint
But despite these cultural differences, Oman is considered one of the safest countries in the Middle East for western travelers. Commenters on Trip Advisor shared their Oman travel experiences, and the majority say the citizens of Oman go out of their way to be friendly and welcoming to visitors.
Perhaps it’s due to their desire to be perceived as a hospitable country, but Oman has made some positive cultural shifts in recent years, notably around the treatment of animals. An article in Wikipedia mentioned that travelers had complained of seeing animal abuse on the streets of Oman, particularly of stray dogs and cats.
But in 2017, the country passed an animal welfare law that stipulates that “owners and care takers of animals should take all precautions to ensure that no harm, injury, pain, or suffering is caused to the animals. The animals are defined as ‘all types of animals, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.’”
While we always have to be circumspect about any claims of improved animal welfare, Oman’s passing of this law and openness to visitors can only be seen as a positive.
Oman is home to a diverse array of indigenous animals, including leopards, hyenas, foxes, wolves, hares, oryxes, ibexes, vultures, eagles, falcons, and others. Here are some pics of Oman wildlife shared by fellow animal lovers on Instagram:
According to Vijay Handa, the general manager of the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve in Sur, Oman, the nation’s green turtle population has increased by 5%, which has been good for tourism.
“A lot of tourists actually land in Muscat and then directly go to Ras Al Jinz because they want to see the turtles.”
Here’s a video of the reserve shared by Ewa Negra:
In addition, Oman is becoming a destination for whale watching. In particular, the Arabian humpback whale is critically endangered. It’s the most isolated and the only non-migratory species of whale in the world.
Travel writer Breanna Wilson gushed about her recent trip to Oman with a friend in her article in Forbes – “Oman Is the Best Place to Travel in The Middle East Right Now.”
“Two girls traveling alone in a part of the world that most people are completely terrified of, and we couldn’t have been more excited. The trip was setting itself up to be an experience of a lifetime.”
Here are a few of the adventurous activities you can enjoy in Oman:
Impress the baggage handlers and make your suitcase a standout on the airport conveyor belt with these unique luggage tags! We found a fun assortment of upcycled and recycled luggage tags, plus some made of cork and faux leather. Don’t let your bag get lost in the crowd. Let it go eco and cruelty-free – wherever you happen to roam.
Squiggle Chick creates unique handmade items from upcycled trash. Founder Tracy Borders was inspired on a sailing trip in Croatia when she and her husband would stop in ports and buy Croatian potato chips. The artist in Tracy took a fancy to the bags the chips came in, which she decided to keep as a souvenir. As a person who cares about our planet, she thought the colorful bags should be used again for something useful instead of ending up in the landfill, so she started experimenting. Today, her creations have expanded beyond Croatian potato chip bags to beer bottle labels, candy wrappers, and other “throwaway” snack containers, which she upcycles into one-of-a-kind luggage tags, slim wallets, and eyeglass cases.
This colorful travel tag by Spicer Bags is a great blend of the Earthy simplicity of cork and fun, bright colors. Spicer Bags creates a wide array accessories, including clutches and wallets, out of Eath-friendly cork. (They do make some items with leather, particularly their larger bags, so be sure to read the product details before you buy.)
Trade in House makes so many cool products from cork, including cork shoes, that it’s worth checking out their store on Etsy and going a little cork crazy! These cork luggage tags come in classic tan, brown, wine, and bright red. Cork is a natural, sustainable material that increases the cork tree’s ability to absorb CO2 when the it’s harvested. Its versatility for use in so many different products makes it a rockstar among eco-friendly materials. Trade in House’s products are made in Portugal, where cork is, naturally, the national tree.
Marmalime founder Heidi Stevenson makes all of her upcycled map luggage tags by hand. She uses vintage maps, recycled plastics sourced from local factories, and other post-consumer materials in her creations. Heidi makes both ready-made and custom luggage tags.
If you have a family member or friend who loves to ski or snowboard, these upcycled ski travel tags make the perfect gift (or gift tag.) Quirky Dad makes earrings, travel tags, and ornaments from reclaimed skis. If you think about it, skis are meant to take a beating, so repurposing them in to useful items once they get old makes perfect sense. These travel tags are all handmade and one-of-a-kind.
Seattle, Washington-based Haiku is known for their functional bags and purses, which use CYCLEPETTM fabrics. CYCLEPET is a thread that is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles (PET plastic.) These cute luggage tags come in five different colors.
Offchutes’ unique luggage tags and other accessories are not only one-of-a-kind and colorful, they’re incredible strong. Made from sturdy ripstop nylon fabric and cords from paraglider sails and parachutes, these luggage tags will hold up no matter were you jetset.
Lavishy makes a variety of fun clutches, wallets, and other accessories that are all 100% vegan. Who needs a leather luggage tag when you can get one that’s not only colorful and unique, but cruelty free?