Recycled shoes used to be hard to find, but now, both new and established brands are coming out with more styles made from recycled materials. P.E.T. plastic, which is the plastic used to make disposable plastic bottles, can be melted down and then spun into fibers, which can then be woven into flexible materials used in shoes, as well as clothing, dog collars, and other products.
The plastic pollution problem is now a global crisis. According to the nonprofit Surfers Against Sewage, in 1950, there were 2.5 billion people in the world consuming 1.5 million tons of plastic annually. Fast-forward to 2016 and the world’s 7 billion people are consuming 320 million tons of plastic. And the horrifying statistic is that this number is set to double by 2034.
The best thing we can do is to avoid using plastic as much as possible. In addition, purchasing goods that are made from recycled plastic helps to keep plastic out of the ocean and landfills. Making the decision to buy from brands that are actively trying to solve the plastic waste problem helps to create a market for recycled plastic over virgin plastic.
Here are some innovative brands that are making cool shoes made from recycled plastic and other recycled materials. If you are looking for flip flops made from recycled materials, you can see those in my Recycled and Vegan Flip Flops Guide.
adidas and Parley for the Oceans have created a successful collaboration that’s helping to keep plastic out of the ocean. About 80% of the debris that pollutes our oceans is plastic, which kills marine life. Parley intercepts coastal plastic waste before it gets into the ocean. Then, they convert the reclaimed plastic into threads, which adidas uses to make recycled shoes and active wear You can see adidas Parley flip flops in my recycled flip flops post.
Started by surfer Kyle Parsons, San Francisco and Bali-based Indosole repurposes discarded tires and uses them in the soles of their vegan footwear line. Billions of used tires are discarded every year, which pollute waterways and other natural habitats.
Indosole is a certified B Corporation, which means it’s a for-profit company that’s certified by the nonprofit B Lab for maintaining rigorous social and environmental standards.
Here’s a video about Indosole’s production process in Bali:
You can see flip flops by Indosole in my recycled flip flops guide.
Nike’s Flyknit material reduces production waste and helps to keep plastic bottles out of the ocean and landfill. They developed their flexible Flyknit material at the request of runners who wanted a shoe that fit like a sock.
Saolo makes cool street wear style shoes out of recycled materials, organic cotton, and harvested algae. Their recycled shoes are comfortable and lightweight, plus they’re cushioned with sustainable cork insoles. Every pair of their shoes keeps 3-4 plastic bottles out of the landfill and ocean. Their shoes are also 100% vegan.
The North Face is another major brand that is now incorporating recycled P.E.T. plastic into their shoes and clothing. These puffy camp slippers are lightweight, warm and comfy, perfect for camping trips or after a day or skiing or snowboarding. (For my vegan friends, they do use leather in some of their styles, so be sure to check the product details.)
The People’s Movement (MOVMT) is another socially conscious company that was founded by a surfer who couldn’t stand the amount of pollution he was running into in the ocean.
MOVMT shoes are made from recycled plastic and other eco-friendly materials like organic cotton canvas, and they’re casual and comfortable.
Here’s CEO Kevin Flanagan talking about the mission behind the People’s Movement:
Vivobarefoot is all about going barefoot while still wearing shoes. Their shoes are made with flexible, eco-friendly canvas that’s made from 40% recycled P.E.T. plastic.
Etnies creates classic skate shoes with an eco-friendly twist. Their shoes are made with recycled rubber outsoles, and the padded insoles are made with recycled materials too. Taking it a step further, their canvas uppers are made with recycled plastic.
Bhava is an ethical footwear brand that was started by Francisca Pineda, who wanted to create a new standard in the footwear industry. Bhava’s artisanal shoes 100% vegan and they’re also made with organic and recycled materials.
Beyond Skin’s founders set out to make a line of luxury shoes that were also kind to animals. They incorporate recycled polyurethane (PU) vegan leather into their designs. Beyond Skin’s shoes are designed in Brighton, UK and made in Alicante, Spain.
To date, Rothy’s has already repurposed 20 million plastic water bottles and recycled them into their popular and stylish flats. With some heavy hitter investors and fans like Meghan Markle, Rothy’s promises to bring recycled and sustainable footwear to the masses. A truly circular company, Rothy’s will recycle old shoes into new styles if you send them back to them.
See more recycled shoes in: