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.
1. 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.
2. Timberland ThreadTM Recycled Canvas Collection
For a brand that’s most known for their rugged leather boots, it’s groundbreaking for Timberland to offer new styles that are made with not just canvas – but canvas that’s made from recycled plastic bottles. Timberland teamed up with ThreadTM, a Certified B Corporation that reclaims plastic bottles collected on the streets and in the canals of Haiti and recycles them into what they say is “the most responsible fabric on the planet.”
By partnering with Thread to use a tough recycled canvas material in their boots and hightop sneakers, Timberland is taking a big step towards environmental sustainability, while also supporting Thread in creating “social value and impact in the form of cleaner neighborhoods and meaningful new job opportunities.”
3. Converse Renew Recycled Chuck Taylors
Recently Converse has also gotten into the recycling game with a new twist on their classic Chuck Taylors. Dubbed Converse Renew, the classic high tops and low tops are made with 30-40% recycled manufacturing waste, namely scraps from Converse’s own factory. Plus, the soles are made with recycled rubber.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.)
9. 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:
10. Vivobarefoot Shoes
11. Etnies Recycled Rubber and Plastic Shoes
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.
12. 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.