So you’re in the market for some sustainable men’s shoes. You might well have found that the high street stores aren’t offering what you’re looking for. In fact, you’ve probably found they don’t provide any info at all on the sustainability of their shoes. Or perhaps you’ve spied the word “sustainable” bandied around but have a gut feeling that it’s more of a marketing tactic than a genuine attempt to tackle the climate crisis.
Fear not – we’re here to help. In this blog post, we dive into what to look for when it comes to sustainable footwear and list our favourite brands for men’s and unisex shoes – these folks are doing all the right things when it comes to sustainability!
What to look for
Shoes are made up of lots of different components, so figuring out what makes a sustainable shoe can be a bit of a challenge. Here are a few things to consider:
As we all know, traditionally, shoes are made from leather. And whether or not you care about the poor cows, leather’s pretty bad for the planet too. All those cows create a lot of gas. Ahem…
The good news is that there lots of great vegan alternatives out there. However – vegan doesn’t necessarily mean good for the planet. Often companies simply use plastic as a faux leather, and I’m sure you don’t need telling about all the problems with plastic. So that’s something to bear in mind when picking your kicks. Quite a few of the vegan companies we’ve listed below use leather alternatives that are planet friendly.
So what are the alternatives? There are loads of really cool new materials out there that look and feel like leather but are made of crazy stuff like pineapples and cactus. Quite the fruit salad.
High street retailers often use lots of harmful chemicals and non-biodegradable materials in their shoes, so natural, non-toxic alternatives are something to look out for. Where fabrics like linen and cotton are used, companies should be using organic fibres that are grown without harmful chemicals.
Buy to last
One key part of solving the climate crisis is reducing our overall consumption – because this reduces the number of resources we use and the amount of waste we create. So when picking your new shoes, try and go for ones that’ll last. That might mean spending a bit more on better quality (if you’re able to) or going for a timeless style rather than a passing trend. More and more companies are also offering free repair services for the lifetime of their products, so that’s something to look out for too.
Best sustainable men’s footwear brands
Heads up – a couple of the links below are affiliate links. This means we get a small commission if you click on one of the links and buy a product. But we’ve vetted all of them for sustainability and you can trust that they’re genuine Beagle recommendations.
Allbirds use a variety of sustainable, responsibly-sourced materials such as TENCEL (made from trees), sugar (for an eco-friendly alternative to rubber) and recycled bottles to make trendy shoes for men, women and anyone in between!
Alongside clothes and accessories, Everlane offer a range of trainers and boots that are ethically made and built to stand the test of time.
Vivo Barefoot is the place for outdoor and performance footwear. They’re a B Corp who are becoming a regenerative business, with the highest standards for environment and ethics.
Blackspot boots are political – they set out with the goal of challenging Nike (and their child company Converse) with a sustainable alternative – an act of resistance.
Will’s Vegan Shoes
Will’s leather alternative does contain some plastic – so it’s not biodegradable, but if saving the animals is your jam then these ones might be for you. Plus, you can return them for recycling at the end of their life!
Vegan and plastic free, Po Zu’s shoes are made using renewable resources like pineapple, cactus and cork. They offer sneakers and sturdy boots made from their innovative materials.
Animal-free, handmade boots, trainers and sandals for men. Freerangers also sell belts, bags and even Celtic sporrans, if you’re looking to complete your kilted look.
You’ve probably seen a few pairs of these knocking around, because they’ve become a bit of a hit with vegans and non-vegans alike. Comfy sneakers with a trademark V on the side, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Vejas.
While they don’t score as highly as some of the other brands, when it comes to high street offerings, Birkenstock are pretty good on sustainability compared to the rest, using sustainable raw materials like natural cork and latex.
Shop shoes with simplicity
Phew! Wrapping your head around the ins and outs of sustainable materials and which brands are doing what takes some energy, right? Don’t forget that installing Beagle Button in your browser takes the legwork out by offering you excellent ethical alternatives! We’ll help you sniff out your new shoes in no time.
Sniff out even more sustainable brands
Figuring out which brands are doing all the right things can be exhausting – we get it. But Beagle Button is here to help! We’ve created a handy little browser extension that shows you ethical and sustainable alternatives when you’re shopping online. Why not try it out on your next online shopping session?