Of the different shoes I present on UniGuide, flip flops are a shoe-in for the highest echelons of vegan and eco-friendly shoes. Today, you can find a variety of really cool vegan flip flops that are also gentle on the planet. There are styles made with recycled plastic, upcycled tires, cork, hemp, and more. Other eco-friendly materials include natural rubber, recycled polyester, and upcycled industrial hoses.
If we could wear them every day, we probably would. Why? Because flip flops feel like sunshine, warm weather, the beach, and relaxation. But if your flip flops are made from materials that are not Earth- or animal-friendly – like plastic, certain types of foam, suede, or leather – it erodes their feel-good vibe.
According to Wikipedia, flip flops transcend cultures, as they’re worn by people all over the world. The earliest record we have of a flip flop-style sandal was the type worn by the ancient Egyptians in 1,5oo B.C. But the modern flip flops that we all know and love today were probably inspired by the Japanese zōri, which American soldiers brought back to the U.S. after World War II.
So, if you’re getting ready for summer, going on vacation somewhere warm, bumming around town, or walking from the shower to your locker at the gym, look no further – you’ve come to the right place to find some cool flip flops that are also easy on the Earth. (And it goes without saying – on UniGuide, any flip flops you see will be vegan.)
It’s estimated that 80% of the debris that pollutes our oceans is plastic. This is why I’m a huge fan of the collaboration between adidas and Parley. Parley for the Oceans is an organization that sets out to intercept waste on the beach and in coastal communities before it reaches the ocean. They recycle this waste into threads that adidas then uses to make not only flips flops and sneakers, but also a new line of yoga and active wear. The sustainable cork foot bed in these sandals makes them even cooler. The adidas Eezay Parley Slide is available in men’s and women’s styles.
Indosole is a certified B Corporation, which means it’s a for-profit company that is certified by the nonprofit B Lab for maintaining rigorous social and environmental standards. Indosole is helping to solve a significant environmental problem by repurposing some of the billions of discarded tires that would otherwise pollute important places, like riverways, other natural habitats, and even cities, into useful footwear. Their socially conscious vegan flip flops are super popular with UniGuide visitors, so be sure to check out a pair for yourself!
SOLÉ takes corporate social responsibility and environmental stewardship seriously, which led them to using cork, an all-natural and sustainable material, in their vegan and eco-friendly sandals. Plus, they incorporate other Earth-friendly materials, like hemp and recycled polyester, into their designs. SOLÉ focuses on reducing CO2 by running a business that is carbon negative. They achieve this by planting cork trees, harvesting the bark, recycling wine corks, and purchasing carbon offsets.
I can’t believe I just discovered this brand! Rider is all about making socially conscious and eco-friendly sandals. Their flip flops are made with 15-30% recycled materials, and 99% of the industrial waste generated from their production is either re-used or recycled. On a monthly basis, the company recycles 960 tons of materials. And when your Rider flop flops wear out, you can send them back to the company and they’ll recycle them into something new, like the flooring for children’s playgrounds. Warning: They have so many cool, vibrant color combinations that it’s going to be hard to choose.
Gumbies Flip Flops have their own unique look. Company founder Michel Maurer is a freedom-loving adventurer who never wanted to be boxed in to a traditional way of living. Gumbies’ design reflects that philosophy. Maurer tinkered with different materials to be used in his sandals, and eventually settled on a sole made with recycled rubber, cut into little squares, and woven together with jute. The company puts an emphasis on using the “most practical, natural, recycled, and planet friendly materials possible.”
Patagonia is the granddaddy of eco-friendly product companies because after over four decades in business, they just get better and better at producing super high-quality products that are infused with environmental consciousness and low-impact materials. It’s not easy being the front runner, so I’m especially grateful to catch a ride on the momentum Patagonia’s been building since 1973.Price: $56.00
San Clemente, California-based Rainbow Sandals has a line of hemp flip flops that have a natural aesthetic. And they get the cool frayed look once they’re worn in a bit. Rainbow Sandals does make some leather versions, so be sure to check the product details. But I salute them for giving to a number of charities, with a special emphasis on education. I can’t argue with that! They offer men’s and women’s styles, and their hemp sandals comes in natural, brown, and black.
Husband and wife team Josh and Heather Carpenter started Landfill Dzine when they saw a lot of useful materials come through the family’s recycling center, which served the agricultural industry. Self-described recycling fanatics, The Carpenters saw style and innovation where others just saw trash. Landfill Dzine makes a variety of products for men, women, and kids – including belts, shoes, and bags – all made from upcycled and recycled materials.
Owned by Deckers, the Sanuk brand has a variety of shoes made that are made with vegan and natural fibers. Deckers carries some non-vegan brands, but they do put out an annual corporate social responsibility report and focus on worker safety along their supply chains.
Founded by podiatrist Dr. Sylvie Shapiro, Planet Flops are made in Brazil from natural Brazilian rubber. Unlike synthetic rubber, natural rubber comes from rubber trees and is an eco-friendly material. The rubber harvesting process involves tapping into the tree to remove the sap from the bark, which does not harm the tree, yet creates an extra reason to keep them alive and thriving.
Made in the USA, Okabashi‘s sandals contain 20% recycled materials. Okabashi has their own recycling program – when you’re done with your flip flops, you can mail them back and Okabashi will use the materials to make more of their products.
Chaco’s textured footbeds have an “Ecotread” sole that is made with a 25% recycled rubber compound. Ecotread’s construction makes these sandals 15% lighter than Chaco’s other styles, while still being durable.
Made from hemp, one of the most versatile and sustainable natural materials available today, Nirvana 8′s hemp sandals are imported from Nepal, where they are all handmade by local artisans in the Kathmandu Valley.Price range: $28.79 – $31.50
Feelgoodz makes men’s and women’s flip flops with natural rubber. They also use all-natural dyes and non-toxic ink. You’ll find a variety of colors at a great price point. (For you vegans, they do make some styles with leather, so be sure to read the product details!)Price: $19.99 – $24.99
“Live, Protect, and Respect” is the philosophy that Ocean Minded lives by. They use recycled and sustainable materials in their products whenever possible. These eco-friendly and vegan sandals have recycled PET plastic in the webbing on the straps, and the midsoles are made with 25% post-industrial recycled foam. (Ocean Minded does make a few styles with leather, so be sure to read the product details before you buy.)
OLLImakes Fair Trade flip flops with natural rubber sourced in Sri Lanka. The company was founded by two sisters, The Olli Sisters, found the chemicals used in traditional flip flops to be unacceptable. So, they set out to make a better flip flop with natural rubber, but soon realized the treatment of workers on many rubber plantations was also not acceptable. The result of their innate sense of decency was to create these socially conscious, Fair Trade flip flops (plus other cool, Fair Trade products.)
The North Face’s Camp Lite Flip Flops have webbing that is made with 100% recycled PET plastic.
If you want an even more natural aesthetic with some ethnic fabric flair, these handmade sandals by Siam Tip will do the trick. The footbed is made with woven natural bamboo grass and the soles are natural rubber. The straps are made with vegan-friendly faux leather and upcycled fabric from skirts made by the Hmong tribe of China.
Musewear prints whimsical sayings, inspiring quotes, and zodiac signs on their flip flops, which are made from natural Brazilian rubber. With each pair you buy, they donate 15% of the price to nonprofits, such as Best Friends Animal Society and the Nature Conservancy. They also have a recycling program for their flip flops when you’re done wearing them.
Waves makes flip flops for men and women with 100% natural rubber.
Probably the closest style you’ll find to the original Japanese zōri, these flip flops have a seagrass footbed and padded fabric straps.
If you’re looking for a vegan sandal that’s a bit more adventure-ready, check out this post: