With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. Image by Darzah (Ocelot) #ethicalboots #ecofriendlyboots #sustainablejungle
Image by Darzah (Ocelot)
With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. Image by Christy Dawn #ethicalboots #ecofriendlyboots #sustainablejungle
Image by Christy Dawn
With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. Image by Nisolo #ethicalboots #ecofriendlyboots #sustainablejungle
Image by Nisolo

7 Eco Friendly & Ethical Boots For Treading Lightly

*This post contains affilate links


Boots were made for walking… not destroying the planet. 

With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. 

Like everything else that enters our home, even our favorite eco friendly boots have an impact. In fact, boots probably have a bit more of a tangible one than other garments. So, to keep that impact to a minimum, we’ve laced up and looked around for the most eco friendly and ethical boots out there. 

Before you get stomping though, here’s a sneak peak of some of our faves. 

Alice + Whittles is our favorite vegan ethical boot brand for those who live in rainy climates and need a sustainable waterproof boot. If you’re not tied to vegan-only options, we’re all aboot Christy Dawn’s impressive use of recycled and repurposed materials.  

To understand how we chose the following brands head to the end of the article. To get a better idea of what sustainable and ethical fashion looks like as a whole, we’d recommend you start here

1. CHRISTY DAWN

With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. Image by Christy Dawn #ethicalboots #ecofriendlyboots #sustainablejungle
Image by Christy Dawn
About Christy Dawn

Christy Dawn is all about honoring Mother Earth through a spiritual and sustainable connection with what clothes us. We’ll let them speak for themselves about what they offer:

“Simple, easy-to-wear pieces that will work equally well for your video calls or your quieter internal moments. These are powerful times. We are all being asked to let go of old ways that no longer serve us so that a new world can spring forth.”

Their upcycled vintage (and vintage-inspired) range includes dresses, tops, bottoms, loungewear, and footwear—including sandals and, of course, vintage eco friendly boots.

Christy Dawn’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

All of their boots are made with untreated, naturally textured, upcycled deadstock leather. This comes to them as leftovers from other textile companies. Where another non-deadstock material is used (as in some of their other shoes, not their boots), it’s always organic cotton.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Christy Dawn’s eco friendly non toxic boots are produced in India and Los Angeles. Unlike other brands, intention is important for Christy Dawn and they promote slow fashion to the core:

“Speed is the last thing on their minds; we ask [our artisans] to take a deep breath, slow down and create something they are proud of.”

Every team member is treated like family.

Green business practices: 

In addition to using repurposed and recycled materials, they also have a Farm-to-Closet Initiative which includes a regenerative cotton farm—and a farming community that’s just as regenerated. They plan to have a fully regenerative fibershed soon, stay tuned.

Everything produced by Christy Dawn is designed to last—no chasing short-term trends. Just take a look at how effortlessly their prairie-house style dresses fit into urban backdrops.

Community & charitable giving: 

The brand regularly gives back through local fundraisers. Recently, they partnered with Olympia Ausset in a campaign to provide low-income neighborhoods in L.A. with fresh and healthy food.

Available:  Christy Dawn

2. ALICE + WHITTLES

Image by Alice + Whittles
About Alice + Whittles

Canada’s Alice + Whittles would like us all to #BeOutside. You know what’s better than getting outside? Doing so in shoes that are beneficial for the Planet + People.

With that in mind, Alice + Whittles has created a lofty goal for their shoes—that they’re made with 100% traceable and sustainable materials. And they’re getting close with some of the most sustainable ethical boots we could find.   

In designing “fashion essentials for the global citizen” these sustainable rain boots aren’t just totally waterproof and waste-proof, they’re also proof that a good pair of even rubber rain boots can complement any rainy day outfit. You can choose between knee and ankle high styles.

Alice + Whittles’ Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Let’s start with their eco friendly rain boots. They’re made with 100% natural fairly traded rubber (AKA they’re 100% plastic-free). The rubber comes from sustainably managed forests in Sri Lanka (and requires 80% less energy to produce than traditional rain boots). The only non-rubber component is an absorptive cotton sock lining to keep your feet from getting wet of a different sort on the inside.

It gets better.

Their eco friendly vegan boots – their Weekend Boot is virgin plastic-free. They’re made with marine plastic pollution, recycled synthetic wool, and a recycled rubber sole. These are materials that we can definitely get behind (stand on top of?).  

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Alice + Whittles uses family-operated factories in countries like Sri Lanka and Portugal to make their warm winter ethical boots. They’ve traveled the globe to find the best producers who share their values for ethics and sustainability. 

They also take the time to get to know the community and culture and go above and beyond to support the people they work with. Part of this comes from regularly auditing “most” of their supply chain (though they don’t give an exact percentage).

Oh yeah, and the Canadian-based company is run by a woman who’s also a POC.

Green business practices: 

Where Alice + Whittles really gets green is through their materials. They use natural fair traded rubber, recycled PET, reclaimed ocean plastic, and other clearly recycled materials (like post-industrial car seat scraps in their Luxa Sneakers)  throughout their whole product line. 

Everything, down to the vegan water-based glue has been thoughtfully chosen for light treading.

Available:  Alice + Whittles

3. NISOLO

With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. Image by Nisolo #ethicalboots #ecofriendlyboots #sustainablejungle
Image by Nisolo
About Nisolo

Nashville-based Nisolo is a certified B Corp with a vision to bring sustainable, intentionally designed, ethically made, and fairly priced products to more people around the globe. 

We especially love their ethical jewelry (so elegant yet most of it is upcycled) and eco friendly handbags.

Covering all-season footwear needs, they have a wide range of ethical sandals for summer and an equally-impressive selection of women’s and men’s eco friendly fashion boots for when the mercury drops. 

Nisolo’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

With a variety of boots, you’ll also find an array of materials used, too. You’ll see the standard suede and rubber combination in their ethical winter boots, and you’ll also see weather-resistant leather in some of their dressier options. 

The leather comes to Nisolo as a by-product of the meat industry and most of the tanneries they work with have been certified by the Leather Working Group. We also may start to see vegan leather from Nisolo, which could make these boots even more ethical and eco friendly.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Nisolo has their own third-party audited factory in Trujillo, Peru and partners with two other factories and groups of independent artisans in Mexico and Kenya, respectively. 

In their own Peruvian factory, they provide much-needed employment opportunities for locals and go above and beyond to ensure fair wages (always above living wages) and financial support like assisting with home loans. 

Their family-owned Mexican partner factory adheres to a strict Code of Conduct, which requires that wages are at least 14% higher than the living wage in the area. Their Kenya-based artisans receive the same rate of higher wages, as well as learning opportunities and healthcare. 

They have also started the #LowestWageChallenge, a movement to encourage brands to get really transparent by publishing the lowest wage in their supply chain so that improvements can be made and the status quo challenged.

Green business practices: 

One thing is for certain: you won’t be chukka-ing out these ethical chukka boots any time soon, as everything here is designed for durability.

Nisolo offsets their carbon emissions through a partnership with Ecosphere+. Their support goes to projects tackling deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. For more on their impact, read their full report.

Community & charitable giving: 

They also have a shoe reclamation program, which not only minimizes their contribution to landfill waste, but also donates returned or damaged shoes to Soles4Shoes. This allows micro entrepreneurs in developing countries to repair and resell them in their community. 

To benefit their employees and their families, they not only offer fair trade premium perks, but an in-house skills development training program with classes on finances, health, nutrition, English, physical education, and yoga.

Available: Nisolo

4. OCELOT MARKET

With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. Image by Darzah (Ocelot) #ethicalboots #ecofriendlyboots #sustainablejungle
Image by Darzah (Ocelot)
About Ocelot Market

Contrary to the name, Ocelot Market is not a place where you can shop for your very own ocelot.  Sorry, folks, no Babou for you.

But you can find pretty much anything else you might want there, to dress up either your person or your home.  Thanks to their partnership with tons of small brands all around the world, OM is able to bring us an incredibly diverse collection of clothing, footwear, homewares, and jewelry.

You may have read about them in our article on fair trade scarves, but don’t forget about winter attire for your feet, too.  For that, they sell all manner of ethical boots from ankle chukkas to pinstripe thigh highs.

Ocelot Market’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

For vegan ethical boots from Ocelot, Corkstyle should be your go-to choice. Handcrafted out of cork (one of the world’s most sustainable vegan leathers) in Portugal, these boots are the most sustainable boot option on the site.

Next up, we have the many many boot offerings of Cano, all of which are fairly made in Mexico of vegetable tanned leather and a natural crepé rubber sole.

Fair Trade certified brand Darzah’s 100% hand-embroidered leather mule boots shouldn’t be missed, either. If these boots are anything like their sandals, the leather comes from a local family-run leather manufacturer in Khalil/Hebron (the whole supply chain is located in Palestine), though we’ll be reaching out for more details on their leather sourcing and processing.

We’d avoid Teysha and Able because they’re made of cow leather but make no mention of either sourcing or sustainable tanning practices. The show-stopping thigh high boots by Shekudo are also unfortunately a no-go for us because, while the upper is 100% cotton, the interior is goat skin leather.

Supply chain & labour practices:

With around 100 brands available on Ocelot Market, there are lots of supply chains and labor practices to consider.  Fortunately, we know ALL of them have been checked for ethical practices by Ocelot themselves before being accepted by the site.

Each product page tells us the country of origin and any other pertinent details, like whether the brand is Fair Trade certified or the makers are part of a co-op.

Green business practices: 

Ocelot is one of our favorite sustainable online stores simply because it embodies the notion of supporting small… which in turn means fighting overconsumption and fashion waste! To further reinforce that, they have a Made-to-Order collection, though you won’t find any boots here yet.

Community & charitable giving: 

Ocelot Market exists because of its amazing artisan partners, and thus 99% of profits go directly toward sustaining the marketplace for them. Each purchase also plants a tree.

Available:  Ocelot Market

5. AMOUR VERT

With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. Image by Amour Vert #ethicalboots #ecofriendlyboots #sustainablejungle
Image by Amour Vert
About Amour Vert

We love “green love” business. And that’s what Amour Vert means in French, and it couldn’t be more accurate for the US-based sustainable fashion brand. 

Amour Vert has all your winter bases covered. From their range of ethical winter coats to their eco friendly boots made by select independent designers, they’ll keep you warm and dry as the snow and mercury begins to drop.

Amour Vert’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Their ethical fashion boots are made with materials like Italian vegetable tanned leather (all Coclico boots) and embossed leather (all Miista boots). 

For the leather that’s been vegetable tanned, it means that chrome and other toxic chemicals and heavy metals aren’t required, making it far less harmful for the artisans. However, it does still require tannins—which have to be extracted from the bark of the tree (essentially killing the tree).  

So, if you’re in love with these (or any) ethical brown leather boots, consider their impact and ensure that you’re going to be wearing them for long enough to make it worth it. Opt for the Coclico boots, too, since vegetable tanned leather is more sustainable than regular embossed leather.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Even in a time of social distancing, Amour Vert likes to keep things local. 97% of their range is produced in factories that are near their main San Francisco office. 

These factories use GOTS-approved practices and include many more production details (like gender ratio of the employees at each) of each factory and product on their website.

Their boots are actually some of the few items NOT made in San Fran, as they’re all handcrafted in Spain with leather that’s been sourced in Europe. Again, keeping the supply chain as local as possible.

Green business practices: 

Sustainability starts with eco-friendly materials—and it continues with the materials used to ship them to your doorstep.  For AV, that’s recyclable/compostable packaging and soy-based inks.

Community & charitable giving: 

With Amour Vert, you can get a tree with a tee! For every sustainable t-shirt purchase, the brand works with American Forest to plant a tree (psst, they’ve planted more than 300k so far).

Available:  Amour Vert

6. MADE TRADE

With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. Image by Made Trade #ethicalboots #ecofriendlyboots #sustainablejungle
Image by Made Trade
About Made Trade

Made Trade is a curator of ethically-sourced goods from around the globe. 

They’re one of our favorite online home goods stores for things like furniture, bedding, and curtains because they make it easier for shoppers to find the products that align with their values. You can easily filter any search to specifically look for fair trade, heritage, POC-owned, sustainable, made in the USA, vegan, and woman-owned goods. 

Made Trade’s sustainable selection goes far beyond the home, however, and they stock some of the world’s most sustainable fashion brands, too. Here you can find ethical Chelsea boots, eco friendly desert boots, ethical mens boots—and everything in between. 

Made Trade’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

With a large selection, you can expect to see a lot of different materials used in the ethical boots sold on Made Trade. Some of the big ones include Italian leather, eco-certified leather, Nubuck leather (made from deer or elk skin), and even those with upcycled airplane tire soles.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

As they work with a range of different brands, their products come from several different supply chains, information about which you can see with each product. 

While some products may do better in terms of their materials, others might have a more transparent and equitable supply chain. However, any product you see in their marketplace comes from a high ethical standard which means responsible sourcing and fair wages—at a very minimum.

If you’re prioritizing manufacturing in your search for the best fair trade boots, shop here.

Green business practices: 

Trading in quality craftsmanship for mindless consumption is the first way Made Trade protects our planet. They go beyond that by being certified Carbon Neutral and offsetting shipping carbon emissions (even for returns).

These offsets go toward the ADPML project in Pará, Brazil. This project seeks to protect the rainforest from illegal logging by educating indiginous families on proper land management techniques.

Community & charitable giving: 

MT also donates to Fibershed, a regenerative fiber company and is a member of 1% for the Planet.

Available:  Made Trade

7. MATISSE FOOTWEAR

With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. Image by Matisse #ethicalboots #ecofriendlyboots #sustainablejungle
Image by Matisse
About Matisse Footwear

Matisse is an LA-based lifestyle brand that combines craftsmanship, quality, and artisanal touches to meet the needs of the modern woman—all the while trying to use sustainable materials and working with ethical factories. 

They say, everything is designed to “bring together contemporary design while infusing attitude and effortless edge into our casual aesthetic.  Matisse styles merge versatility and comfort without forsaking trend.”

They’ve got an impressive range of boots, a sizable portion of which are ethical vegan boots.

Matisse Footwear’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

With a range so big, you surprisingly don’t see too many different materials in Matisse Footwear’s product descriptions. 

The boots are really only made with either PETA-approved synthetic vegan leather (which is PU-based, not PVC, so it’s at least the better of the plastic-based vegan leather alternatives) or animal leather (see below for how they’re minimizing impact here).

Whenever possible, they use recycled leathers or other textiles to make some of the minor components of the boots, like heel wraps, welts, uppers, and straps.

Ultimately, we would love to see even more details about both fabrics, including a filter on their website for their vegan versus non-vegan designs.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Matisse only works with factory partners (across five countries) who meet their standards with regard to fair compensation and fair working conditions. Most of the factories are family-owned, have been in the footwear business for 30+ years, and all are regularly audited.

Green business practices: 

For their ethical leather boots, Matisse works with “nominated tanneries that have worked tirelessly to be cleaner and greener” by using technological advances to lessen watershed waste.

Available:  Matisse Footwear

HOW WE FOUND SUSTAINABLE BOOTS

Like most of what clothes are made of, boots also commonly include synthetics, toxically tanned leather, and typically are made with zero or little regard for the shoemakers behind them. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. we’re excited to see that some brands are taking a stand (in durable eco friendly boots, of course) for fair fashion.  

As always, we start with our ethical fashion guide as a template for choosing these brands. Though since footwear is a little different, we sometimes need to take a few extra steps to get to the heart and sole of these brands.  

You can see these extra considerations in our other footwear articles, those on ethical sneakers, sandals, and flip flops.  

For sustainable and ethical boots, however, here’s what we checked, heel to toe: 

Materials:

Leather seems to be the most popular boot option—and we love to see when brands are using deadstock leather (the most sustainable option, in our opinion) or are sourcing theirs from responsible tanneries. While the leather industry has its own set of problems, the material admittedly is one of the most durable, ensuring your boots (properly cared for) last a long time. 

We also saw some vegan leather, which can be hit or miss. So, if you’re sold on a pair of vegan leather ankle boots, tread lightly and do your research to see if the brand can really back up those sustainable claims.

Some other materials that received high marks from us included sustainably harvested natural rubber (which is tapped harmlessly like sap from trees), upcycled rubber, and recycled polyester. 

That’s just the upper and outsole. There are other parts of the boot to consider, and those are unfortunately a little more difficult to make sustainable. First there’s the insole. Cork is the best option here, as it’s antimicrobial and biodegradable, but we didn’t find any boots made of this yet (here’s to the continuing search). 

Most boots also have some sort of lining, as straight up rubber or leather isn’t very comfortable for the foot. For that, most brands seem to be using cotton for its moisture absorbing quality, but obvious materials like organic cotton, linen, and hemp are best.

The most tricky part of the boot, sustainably speaking, is the midsole, needed to provide some cushion and comfort for those long treks to the office, but most options consisted of plastic-based EVA foam. Fortunately, boots tend to only have small layers of EVA since they don’t need to provide quite as much cushion as, say, ethical running shoes.

Supply chain and labor practices:

It’s always a boo when boots are made with zero consideration for the people making them. We noticed a trend with these brands—they all went above and beyond to consider their employees (some even referring to them as family). 

It’s always great to see when wellbeing is prioritized, especially when brands go beyond fair pay to offer additional support/benefits for their talented teams (i.e. additional learning opportunities, healthcare). 

Green business practices:

Sustainability may start with sourcing those first materials, but it shouldn’t end there. Kudos to any brand who’s using carbon offsets, farming in ways that go beyond organic, or using eco-friendly packaging. 

Community & charitable giving:

Buying boots is a much better investment when your purchase is helping a brand give back. We were jumping for joy to see that so many of these brands are doing even more to support the planet and the communities they work with. 

Through large donations, tree planting, or support for local organizations, it’s great to see that boot brands care. 


FINAL THOUGHTS ON ECO FRIENDLY BOOTS

In many areas of the world (here’s looking at you, Northern US and Canada), surviving winter without a good pair of boots simply isn’t an option. 

And since global warming has wiped any sense of predictability in our weather patterns, you might need a solid pair of sustainable boots for just about any season these days. 

Quality fair trade outdoor boots and fashion boots alike are an investment that we should take care of. Ignore the call of fast fashion and invest in boots that will last for years or decades (no matter how many snow piles you stomp through). If you can’t find a good pair of new affordable ethical boots, check out your local vintage shop or online thrift store

Does this reboot your interest in sustainable fashion or is it all old news? If you’ve been in the ethical boot game for a while, we’d love to hear your favorite earth-beneficial boot brands. Let us know in the comments below. 


With winter approaching (depending on the hemisphere or the GoT season you’re watching), there’s no better time to start considering our (literal) environmental footprint and making eco friendly and ethical boots a winter wardrobe priority. Image by Christy Dawn #ethicalboots #ecofriendlyboots #sustainablejungle

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