Green + Shoes = Awesome Designs!

I have a confession to make—no, a proclamation: I LOVE SHOES! Let me rephrase that: I LOVE UNIQUE SHOES! Close friends and family know this well. Buying shoes is an obsession for me, and I simply can’t resist a sale! I go out of my way to find shoes that are not only stylish, but also different from the norm: not just your average cookie-cutter design. And if I’m lucky, I get them at a great price, too! I lost track of how many pairs I have, but I know I have shoes in almost every color and for almost every occasion.

I must admit that I don’t have too many pairs of eco-friendly shoes, simply because, let’s face it: they are ugly!! Ok, ok: ugly is a bit of an exaggeration. Let’s just say that the eco-friendly shoes of the 90’s catered to a specific market, with very specific tastes. Definitely not mainstream tastes. The style was usually the same: that of the duck-billed platypus shape. And the colors (or lack their of) were shades of brown, oatmeal and army green. Definitely not the color palette of a fashionista.

Well, after doing some research online, I am happy to report that there are plenty of eco-friendly choices out there for your feet, without having to sacrifice your personal style, comfort, quality or color preferences! This is great news for shoe lovers, like me. Below are the exciting brands and my top picks from each:

Walk the Line:

This is probably my favorite discovery. First and foremost, this a company with an eye for fashion. TERRA PLANA embodies the eco-minded individual of today (myself included): someone who espouses fashion forward thinking with a focus on sustainability. The company uses what they like to call 21st Century artisan: “Shoes that respect traditional shoe making, using stitched constructions to minimize glues, and modern technology to create greater levels of lightness, flexibility and durability.” TERRA PLANA employs a wide variety of eco-friendly materials in their products, such as recycled PET bottles for mesh, recycled rice husks for soling materials, recycled leather and recycled foam for footbeds. Of all the green shoe companies I looked into, TERRA PLANA has the most extensive collection of shoes, with several different lines for men, women and kids. They use very distinct lines and curves in their designs and employ a wide variety of colors and fabrics (ie: recycled Pakistani quilts). The shoes are of very high-quality and comfort is central to the design. These shoes could be worn to the office, walking around downtown or during a fun trip abroad. But you don’t have to take my word for it: TERRA PLANA won The Observer Ethical Fashion Award in 2007 and picked up an award from Drapers for Ethical Footwear Retailer of the Year in 2008. I had a really hard time selecting my favorites because I love them all!

Heart and Sole:

You don’t have to feel guilty buying shoes anymore: for every pair of  Toms shoes you purchase, the company will give a brand new pair to a child in need. Talk about putting your heart and soul into something: founder Blake Mycoskie has given over 400,000 pairs of shoes since the company’s beginning in 2006. The shoes are manufactured in Argentina, China and Ethiopia. The company requires the factories to practice sound labor conditions, pay fair wages and follow local labor standards. Toms has a huge selection for men, women, teens and children too! I had to include 2 styles, since they are so cool! They are available in both men’s and women’s sizes.

Fantastic Plastic:
Melissa Shoes

Wow, this is what I live for! Fantastic shoes with exceptional regard for design, detail and color. And they’re plastic! So cute, so unique and so now. The Brazilian-based company boasts “zero-waste” from their products. Their shoes can easily be recycled and all residue plastics from the production line are “dealt with in-house. Nothing leaves the factory without being properly treated.” In addition, the company supports many non-profit organizations in Brazil dedicated to environmental causes, blood donation, and education to underprivileged children and young pregnant mothers. The company also donates to charities for the maintenance of urban green areas. You can wear your stylish shoes and samba all the way to the bank! Your purchase looks good, feels good and does good. Plus, they have a fantastic website that is interactive and user-friendly, focusing on simple design elements, elegant lines and a clean color palette (white).

Simplicity’s Sake:
Simple Shoes

Simple has a simple manifesto: “How we make our shoes is as important as why we make them. We’re committed to making our products 100% sustainable.” Pretty simple, huh? They also employ a simple system to rate there level of sustainability for each of their products: Good, Better and (you guessed it!) Best. From their website, they have a laundry list of sustainable, recycled and eco-friendly materials they use in their products—many more than I’ve seen in any other green shoe company. Their shoes are really simple yet very fashionable. They have an sizable line of men, women and children’s shoes. Definitely worth checking out!

Everyone’s Favorite:
Keds Green Label

Keds go hand in hand with lemonade stands and sunny afternoons in the playground. Every kid growing up owned a pair or two or three. They are comfortable, cute and come in all different colors. The company as launched a line of organic shoes called Keds Green Label. They are made with organic cotton, recycled rubber, non-toxic inks and dyes, with nickel free eyelets and laces made from 100% recycled PET (water bottles). So far, the line is only available in women’s sizes. But I have a feeling that will change soon!

Cheap Chic:
Payless’ Zoe

“The most common misconception about sustainable fashion is that it comes in one color and looks one way—neutral, boxy, baggy, shapeless. The best sustainable fashion is invisible and that’s what Zoe&Zac is all about.” I couldn’t have said it better myself! The collection is the brainchild of model-activist Summer Rayne Oakes, and uses only sustainable materials: organic cotton, hemp, jute, recycled rubber, water-based and non-toxic glues, nickle-free hardware, faux suede and faux leather, and recycled elastic. For every Zoe&Zac purchase Payless will donate $1 to the Nature Conservancy‘s Plant a Billion Trees Campaign.

Need for Speed:
Brooks’ Green Running Shoe

Now even the running-enthusiasts can have a smaller ecological footstep. The uni-sex Green Silence is a step in the right direction with its patented biodegradable midsole (the first ever to be introduced to running shoes). 75% of the shoe is made with post-consumer recycled material and all dyes are non-toxic. Plus, the packaging is 100% post-consumer recycled to boot! Brooks’ has also dedicated a part of their R&D to environmental stewardship with their Green Room.

So who says wearing green shoes necessarily means loosing all sense of style? Clearly not these guys! These companies are coming up with revolutionary ways to use recycled and eco-friendly materials in distinctive, creative and innovative ways, and incorporating style, fashion and comfort! If you are interested in finding out other eco-friendly shoe brands, I came across the following 2 blogs: Vegan Pumps and Great Green Shoes. Green Shoes + Shopping = Happy Feet!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

3 Responses to “Green + Shoes = Awesome Designs!”
  1. annerfiff says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  2. annerfiff says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


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  1. […] reusable bag purchased. This bag will be a great way yo take home your Zoe&Zac shoes (see my post on green […]

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