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. One example is P.E.T. plastic, which is the plastic used to make disposable plastic bottles. It can be melted down and then spun into fibers, which can then be woven into flexible materials used in shoes, as clothing, dog collars, and other products.
Plastic Pollution Crisis
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 were 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 avoid using virgin plastic as much as possible. In addition, purchasing goods that are made from recycled plastic helps to keep at least some of that 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. And if you’re looking for sandals, check out my post on Recycled and Vegan Flip Flops Guide.
1. Converse Renew Recycled Chuck Taylors and Other Styles
Converse has also gotten into the recycling game with a new twist on their classic Chuck Taylors and other styles. Dubbed Converse Renew, the line is made with 30-40% recycled manufacturing waste, including scraps from Converse’s own factory. Plus, the soles are made with recycled rubber. There are tons of color combos, including custom multi-color to choose from.
2. Sperry Bionic Recycled Shoes
If you love the ocean, then you’ll appreciate Sperry’s wide selection of boat-style shoes that are made with plastic that’s been reclaimed before it enters the sea, and recycled into Sperry’s classic topsiders, sneakers, and even duck boots. Every pair keeps at least five plastic bottles out of the waste stream.
Cariuma is a new, environmentally-conscious footwear brand from Brazil. For every pair of shoes they sell, they plant a pair of trees in the Brazilian rainforest. With a focus on sustainability, Cariuma founders David and Fernando source eco-friendly materials for their shoes, such as natural rubber, bamboo, cork, and organic cotton. Plus, they incorporate recyled PET plastic into their shoes and ship them in recycled packaging. (Just a note for my vegan visitors, they do use leather in some styles, so be sure to check the product details before you buy.)
In recent year, Reebok has really upped their games when it comes to sustainability. The company is now coming out with a wide variety of styles made with natural, eco-friendly materials, such as eucalyptus bark, algae, and natural rubber, and recycled materials, like recycled polyester. Visit Reebok to see the whole collection.
5. adidas Parley Recycled Plastic Sneakers
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.
6. Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney has been instrumental in bringing a higher level of consciousness to the high fashion industry. And her range of styles, from haute couture to street fashion to athletic wear, offers something for everyone. Via her partnership with adidas and Parley, she also offers great-looking athletic shoes that are made with recycled materials.
7. Indosole Recycled Tire Shoes
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.
8. Nike Flyknit Recycled Running Shoes
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.
9. Saolo Recycled and Vegan Shoes
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.
10. The North Face Recycled Shoes
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.)
11. MOVMT Recycled and Organic Cotton Shoes
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:
12. Vivobarefoot Shoes
13. Etnies Recycled Rubber and Plastic Shoes
Etnies creates classic skate shoes with an eco-friendly twist. They make their shoes with recycled rubber outsoles, and the padded insoles are made with recycled materials too. Taking it a step further, they make the canvas uppers with recycled plastic.
14. Rothy’s Recycled Plastic Bottle Shoes
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.
15. Nothing New Recycled Shoes
Nothing New is a new brand on the scene that makes classic tennis shoes with recycled materials, including fishing nets, bottles, recycled cotton, and recycled rubber. Even the laces are made with recycled materials!
Price: ~$95.00 – $108.00