In the spirit of walking towards a greener future, we’ve been on an ethical and sustainable shoe kick lately. So it seemed like the right time to dive into eco-friendly and ethical sandals. Perfect for when sustainable flip flops are a little too function-not-fashion for you.
Let’s step into talking about these sustainable sandals, strap-backs, and more. We’ve divided them into vegan sandals and other sandals (that typically use leather but do incredible things for local communities invovled in their production) for easy browsing.
To know more about how we picked these brands of eco-friendly sandals, keep reading beyond the main brand list (or jump down to the end of the article).
VEGAN SUSTAINABLE SANDALS
1. EATING THE GOOBER
About Eating the Goober Recycled Sandals
Eating the Goober is an Athens-based creator of upcycled bags, clothing, and slide sandals. The name comes from the “super goober” magic peanut that would change beloved cartoon character Goofy into a superhero. They write:
“Metaphorically, “Eating the Goober” represents the effort to reveal our very own superhero alter ego. We believe that everybody has their own distinctive ‘super goober’. It’s just a matter of realizing it and eating it”. Choosing ethical fashion is a great way to do it!
Their Ethical Magic Sliders with interchangeable upper straps were a winner in the 2019 ‘Etsy Design Awards’. Choose from over 45 changeable uppers which attach to the base via a simple snap button.
Variety often comes at a cost to sustainability, but not with these sustainable shoe sandals. Change your look to suit your mood, without ever having to change your shoes. Since you won’t need to buy more sandals for extra looks, they are a more affordable sustainable sandal, too. If we love anything, it’s a more sustainable bang for our buck!
Eating the Goober’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: Each Magical Slipper base consists of a recycled tire rubber outsole, cork insole, recycled motorbike inner tube upper, and cork fabric strap liner. The interchangeable uppers are made from scraps of vegan recycled fabric. Current fabrics include sequenced vintage fabric, burlap coffee sacks, and cork.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Production is locally based in Greece. Everything is made “by craftsmen that work in safe and fair conditions, are treated with dignity & respect and are paid fairly for their work”. Plus, everything they make is 100% vegan and almost entirely upcycled.
About Indosole Recycled Tire Sandals
Since 2009, “Indosole represents a lifestyle of resourceful creation”. CEO Kyle Parsons was inspired to form the company on a trip to Bali, where he first bought upcycled tire sandals. Indosole now specialize in these flip flop, slide, and cross strap style sandals. Kyle also speaks publicly about mindful consumerism.
All their ethical sandals have arch support and are available in men’s, women’s, and kid’s sizes. Plus, they are waterproof, texturized, and designed for outdoor, all-terrain use.
Indosole Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: Indosole is in the business of turning #TiresToSoles. Both the slide and cross sandal lines feature recycled tire outsoles combined with cushioning natural rubber midsoles.
For the upper sandal straps they use Enviro Fibre which is a PU alternative material. It’s made from coconut fibre and latex (a mix of water and rubber) and requires far less water to manufacture than traditional PU. A handful of shoe companies use it.
If you’re interested in their vegan flip flops , they also use the same tire tread outsole. The bicycle tire inner tube straps are lined with a soft hemp fabric to protect the skin.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Indosole is a certified B-corp, so yearly third-party audits ensure their entire supply chain is checked to meet strict ethical and environmental standards. This means fair pay, safe work environments, and minimal chemical use.
Most of Indosole’s local supply chain is in Indonesia, where they source tires from garages and tire brokers and manufacture them into shoes.
3. HANDMADE LOVE
About Handmade Love Ethical Woven Sandals
Handmade Love is a small Etsy-based shop operating out of Uttar Pradesh, India. A team of just three people, notably chief designer and maker Warina, are alone responsible for crafting their range. This includes macrame crochet cotton products, including jute rugs, straw lamps, and straw slippers.
At only around $25, these are also the most affordable ethical sandals on this list.
Handmade Love’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: Handmade Love’s slipper sandals are made of 100% natural straw uppers, woven in a tight and durable cross-stitch pattern. The outsoles are rubber.
- Supply chain & labor practices: “Warina’s love for handmade is beyond limits,” and that’s why all products are 100% handmade. From what we can tell, she currently makes everything at her own home, but we’ll confirm this with her.
4. ATINGA PROJECT
About Atinga Project Sustainable Rubber Tire Sandals
Atinga Project is a small-scale operation that embodies the philosophy of “trade not aid.”
The company was founded following a six year study showing the “one for one” approach to aid was not benefiting developing countries. They damage the economy by taking work away from locals and driving down the cost of locally-made goods. They ask us to consider:
The artisan-shoemakers of The Atinga Project and their families are hurt by donated and subsidized goods because they are *always under-priced* – how can you compete, making hand-made shoes from scratch (think of the costs associated with this business) when Americans send thousands of boxes of second-hand shoes into your marketplace?
The name Atinga comes from a West African term for dignity and honor and they work on a cooperative basis with Rwandan artisans. By giving them a chance to be entrepreneurs, they’re bolstering the economy.
Atinga is somewhat new to Etsy, yet the reviews for these sustainable sandals for men and women rave about how well-made and durable they are. With a firm stay-on-foot design, these make a great option if you’re looking for ethical outdoor sandals. They’ll even custom make your size for you.
Atinga Project’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: Recycled taxi tires form the base of all Atinga shoes. This outsole base is then combined with upcycled webbing, cord, and other fabric scraps to make the straps and upper designs.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Atinga’s offices are in Buffalo, New York, and their main operations are in Kigali, Rwanda. They’ve now been working with this artist cooperative for over five years to help them grow. Materials are sourced then made into the final product locally (which helps reduce the waste generated in the area, too).
- Community & charitable giving: Rather than being charitable via handouts and donations, Atinga sees greater value in creating demand and dignified work for craftsmen in Rwanda. They believe “these shoes GIVE BACK mile after mile! #SpreadTheTread”.
About Insecta Sustainable Ethical Sandals
From the lush and living rainforests of Brazil, Insecta has insects on the brain and quirky, vibrant patterns on their shoes. Their line of casual slides, ethical platform sandals, and even combat boots will make you feel a bit like you’re in a tropical environment.
With versatile, fashionable patterns that feature removable velcro heel straps, they’re surely one of best eco friendly sandals here.
Each retro shoe line bears the scientific name of an insect species. The Argia ethical vegan sandals are named after the blue-fronted dancer damselfly. What a perfect choice for a breezy summer shoe!
Insecta’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: Insecta is fully transparent about the materials in their shoes. The breakdown shows that every single piece is both PETA-approved vegan and totally recycled. This includes recycled plastic toe caps, either recycled vintage deadstock, cotton, or rPET uppers, and recycled rubber outsoles.
Their insoles consist purely of scrap fabric from their own production line. Arranged in a slight honeycomb texture, they cushion and lightly massage for eco friendly and comfortable sandals.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Insecta were Brazil’s first certified B-corp, and they were named B-corp’s Best for the World in 2017 and a nominee in 2018. It’s easy to see why if you consider that since founding in 2014, they’ve recycled over a ton of cotton, 2000m of deadstock fabric, 21,000 bottles, and 6,800kg of rubber.
Almost the entire supply chain is local to Brazil, which bolsters the local economy and keeps emissions low. About 5% of their raw materials are sourced outside Brazil; the other 95% comes from Rio Grande do Sul. 100% of the manufacturing takes place in Brazil, too.
With a EuReciclo certification, all their packaging complies with the national solid waste policy of being fully recyclable.
- Community & charitable giving: Insecta sponsor multiple collaborations with other ethical companies and female artists to help draw attention to their work.
About Asha:Eleven Eco Friendly Vegan Sandals
Asha:Eleven makes all-natural or upcycled clothing for women and babies (eco mamas, check out their adorable upcycled buntings!).
They release products in three design seasons, each with a completely new product roll-out. This means they make conservative quantities of supplies and designs are limited for purchase during that season only.
At the time of writing (2020), their current Espadril eco friendly sandal collection is a collaboration with Galago. There are three designs, each with some manner of adorably feminine upcycled fabric frills. The philosophy behind these simple but unique designs says it all:
“We believe in timeless, trans-seasonal fashion which is made to last. We believe that less is more and with a few simple basics partnered with contrast statement pieces you can transform and recreate your wardrobe whilst reducing over-consumption and wastefulness.”
We were lucky enought to interview the founder, Olivia Kennaway, on our podcast and were so impressed by her dedication to sustainability.
Asha:Eleven’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: These eco friendly comfy sandals are “an African take on a summer staple,” meaning they not only use all recycled cotton offcuts for the fabric uppers but natural jute-woven bodies and natural rubber outsoles.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Based in Cape Town, Kenyan founder Olivia Kennaway is proud to limit the supply chain to local African suppliers and artisans. They work with small production houses to support disadvantaged communities through “trade not aid” methods. All entities prioritize fair working conditions, quality of craftsmanship and artisan care over speed, deadlines, and profit.
Everything is made by traditional handcrafting methods, save for digital fabric printing due to its lower environmental impact.
With a no-plastic policy, their packaging materials consist of bio-plastic bags or recycled/recyclable boxes. To balance out the inevitable impact of shipping, they purchase carbon offsets for all operations.
- Community & charitable giving: Asha:Eleven continues to grow The Jennifer Product, named after a Nairobi artist who runs the recycling collection initiative and crafting a co-op system. Through this project, they provide stable employment for African communities while encouraging material recycling.
About NAE Sustainable Ethical Sandals
NAE stands for “No Animal Exploitation”. This Portuguese 100% vegan sandal and footwear company is both PETA-approved and beach-ready. Shop their wide selection of open-toe cork wedges, pumps, high-heeled strappy sandals, or casual Pinatex slide. From comfort to couture, they have something for every foot.
NAE’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: NAE uses a pretty wide variety of materials to make their vegan leather sandals and shoes. Some are more sustainable than others. These include recycled PET, cork, organic cotton, and Pinatex (a blend of 80% pineapple leaf fibers and 20% PLA fibers).
All shoes have a recycled car tire outsole and cork and natural latex slip sole. You can shop by material if there’s one that better suits your eco inclinations.
- Supply chain & labor practices: NAE makes all products using a carbon-neutral manufacturing process that limits chemical use and water consumption. They produce everything locally in Portugal, so their factories are upheld to Europe’s more strict ethical standards.
Despite this, the Good On You directory notes they could improve their labor practices by having an adequate supplier code of conduct and providing proof of worker wages. Despite this, NAE holds a “Good” overall rating.
- Community & charitable giving: NAE partners with the ReMove Project who clean plastic from the ocean that then gets remade into shoes. They’ve also collaborated with PETA to make a special line of pure organic cotton and natural rubber boots. $5 from each sale of that collection goes directly to PETA.
About Verdura Eco Friendly Vegan Sandals
Andrea Verdura describes his fateful journey into shoemaking: “Everyone has a story. Mine is a “walking” story since my sandals broke in Australia and I made another pair out from the tire of an old Fiat 500. It looked like a twist of fate … it became my greatest passion”.
The idea for Verdura was even more incidental when Andrea accidentally stepped in fishing nets that had washed up on the beach and looked down to see shoes. These recycled fishing net sandals are not only light on impact, but light and breathable for your feet on hot summer days.
These ethical vegan sandals bear unisex designs but are available in specific fits for women, men, and children.
Verdura’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: If you couldn’t guess by the net-like uppers, Verdura sandals are made from old narrow-gauge fishing nets, banned by the EU because of their higher likelihood of entrapping marine life. It’s a double-edged sword because now these nets are discarded in greater numbers. That’s why Verdura chooses these specifically.
After collection, they’re made into sandals with natural dyes and added onto a wasted cork and recycled rubber bottom. Even the heel strap is made from cork, an improvement on their original recycled leather. Now Verdura sandals are 100% vegan-friendly.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Verdura proudly claims their products are fully “made in Tuscany” only a few miles from their home. They also source all raw materials from Italy and its surrounding waters.
9. RAWGANIQUE HEMP SANDALS
About Rawganique Hemp Sandals
You may recall this name from our eco-friendly slippers article. Rawganique has been creating organic clothing, accessories, sheets, towels, and sustainable crafting supplies since 1997. They’re run by off-grid island homesteaders on Denman Island, off the coast of British Columbia.
These sandals are eco-friendly, vegan and suitable for people with several chemical allergies or skin sensitivity. They come in a wide variety of styles, from slides to sustainable wrap sandals. They’re also cute, comfy, chemical-free, and completely compostable.
Rawganique’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: Regardless of style, all Rawqanique’s sandals are composed of 100% organic hemp uppers and footbeds. If you choose one of the non-natural colors, rest assured that they only use low-impact, biodegradable fiber-reactive eco-dyes. There are no BPA, PVC, heavy metals, formaldehyde, disperse dyes, or glues.
The soles are either upcycled tire rubber or natural rubber, depending on the model.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Rawganique sources all materials from the US, Canada, and Europe. That way, they know their suppliers are legally upheld to Fair Trade standards, even if they don’t hold the certification.
The hemp they use for these slippers is grown in Europe and they are manufactured by hand in their own Atelier shoe workshop. The hemp scraps are remade into drawstring bags to mail all their products in.
OTHER SUSTAINABLE SANDALS
About Nisolo’s Handmade Sustainable Sandals
Nisolo is a specialist sustainable shoe maker for men and women, based in Nashville USA. They offer a wide range of shoes including boots, oxfords & loafers, flats, mules, sandals, sneakers and heels. They also stock a range of jewelry and accessories.
Their sandals come in a variety of styles including the (pitcured) Ecuador Huarache Sandal, slides and sandals with block heels.
Their visions is “to push the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction – where success is based on more than just offering the cheapest price – a direction that not only values exceptional design, but the producer and the planet just as much as the end consumer.”
Nisolo is a certified B Corp which measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance.
Nisolo’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: Nisolo’s shoe range is made predominantly from leather. This leather is always a by-product of the meat industry and Nisolo are currently conducting an investigation of their entire supply chain, down to the farm level.
They have visited and vetted all their factories and leather tanneries and have reported that many of their tanneries have been certified through the Leather Working Group
Nisolo are considering offering vegan leather sandals and footwear so watch this space
- Supply chain & labor practices: Nisolo own their own ethical factory in Trujillo, Peru where their team are provided a living wage, as certified by a third party.
Nisolo have an in-house financial literacy training program which they attribute to having a major impact on the people who work for them. They offer “100+ trainings a year on topics ranging from technical skills development, health, nutrition, English, physical education, and even yoga classes to our producers and their families.”
They also work with other factories, for which they have a Strict Code of Conduct. Employees must be paid a minimum wage, be at least 18 years old and have healthy working conditions.
Nisolo also work with independent artisans with the objectivve of providing job creation with the same fair work policies that Nisolo have for their own factory. These artisans are based in Nairobi, Kenya.
- Community & charitable giving: Nisolo offset their emissions with Ecosphere+ , which “focuses on keeping the threatened forests of the Cordillera Azul of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest alive and protected while creating sustainable livelihoods for its indigenous communities.”
Read more about Nisolo’s Impact here.
About Darzah’s Handmade Sustainable Sandals
Darzah is one of the few not-for-profit fashion brands out there. They specialise in ethically made Palestinian “tatreez” embroidery, “a centuries-old art form, traditionally passed down from mother to daughter.”
A product of a non-profit women’s economic empowerment initiative called Childs Cup Full, Darzah offers a range of beautifully designed shoes, bags, accessories and home decor.
Their sandals include their signature embroidery and look super comfy for everyday wear.
Darzah’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: Darzah’s sandals are made with a mix of leather, rubber and embroidery. Their leather is sourced locally from a family-run leather manufacturer in Khalil/Hebron.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Darzah’s focus is predominantly on empowering women. They work to address the problem of womens’ unemployment on the West Bank (which exceeds 60%) by offering flexeible work from home opportunities.
Darzah is fair trade certified by Fair Trade Federation. They are committed to “paying fair wages to our employees, implementing sustainable manufacturing practices, and supporting marginalized communities.”
All their employees earn a living wage (above the loval minimum).
- Community & charitable giving: Given Darzah is a not for profit, every purshase contributes directly to their training and employment programs on the West Bank.
12. SALT AND UMBER
About Salt and Umber Leather Sustainable Sandals
Salt and Umber is a woman-owned ethical footwear brand that believes in “eco-luxury for all”. Their Lilliana sandals are a modern take on the classic mule shoes. With an androgynous silhouette and subtle metallic sheen, these modest mules pop just the right amount. Choose between four colors, including cognac, gold, positano, and gray.
Salt and Umber’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: The Lilliana sandals are made with recycled TPU outsoles and vegetable-tanned leather uppers sourced from a Leather Working Group (LWG) Gold-rated tannery. While this isn’t as sustainable as upcycling leather, it’s about as sustainable as virgin leather gets.
- Supply chain & labor practices: All Salt and Umber shoes are hand-made in small batches and without emission-causing machinery. They are woven by craftswomen in rural India who work with Salt and Umber via a Fair Trade cooperative system.
For marketing and packaging, they use recycled materials and recently phased out shoe boxes in their last production run. This decreases waste for us consumers and their carbon footprint fell by about 50%.
- Community & charitable giving: Co-op style weaving houses in India, like Salt and Umber provide gainful employment for women. They also receive empowerment opportunities through company-sponsored microloans and education.
13. PROUD MARY FOOTWEAR (CATRINKA)
About Proud Mary Footwear (Catrinka)
First some clarification, Proud Mary Footwear was formerly sold by the company Proud Mary Global Textiles. Recently the ethical accessory and purse maker Catrinka acquired them to help grow the footwear line. Now, under the control of Catrinka, the sandals still bear the Proud Mary seal and original craftsmanship.
Their raffia sustainable beach slide sandals scream carefree summer strolls in the sand. Choose between open and closed-toe designs, fringed flair, and a variety of different colors.
Proud Mary/Catrinka’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: The uppers are 100% Raffia grass and the soles are made of leather. They do not state where the leather is sourced or how it is tanned. We’re reaching out to them directly to confirm.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Proud Mary slippers are handmade in Morocco with raffia that is harvested from nearby palms. Each shoe takes these talented female artists about a day to make.
Overall, Catrinka aims to provide fair work to indigenous communities of women around the world. They work with over 284 women across 16 countries, providing 6,600 days of gainful employment to date. The majority of the textiles are manufactured in rural Mexico and India. The final products are then made in family-owned factories.
- Community & charitable giving: Catrinka works hand in hand with the nonprofit Redmi Aq’ab’al to run the Catrinka Girls Project. It’s an education and life skills mentoring program for indigenous Mayan girls in Totonicapan, Guatemala. A significant portion of sales (what percentage of 50% that is left over after paying their artisans) goes directly toward this fund.
To date, the program has provided 61,467 days of education for Mayan girls in remote villages.
14. SWAHILI COAST
About Swahili Coast
Whether it’s jewelry or sandals, Swahili Coast aims to preserve the beautiful beadwork traditions of Africa. Their slim, minimalist designs range from ethical flip flops to strap-backs to toe wrap-arounds. Each one features a classic leather look with colorful beaded accents.
Their mission is “to help connect the incredible artistry and talents of East African Artisans to global markets using principles of fairness, dignity, and respect”.
Swahili Coast’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: These sandals are made from locally-sourced, naturally-tanned, free-range Tanzanian leather. This includes the upper and softer suede lining, finished with unique hand-beading designs.
Between the hand-craftsmanship and practically unbreakable monofilament thread (think fishing line), they should last you many years.
- Supply chain & labor practices: While the designs start at their studio in Wilmington, NC, the sandals are entirely handmade by artisans in East Africa. Through the Swahili Coast Cooperative, all the workers in small operations in Tanzania are paid fairly and work in safe, positive environments.
They “operate on a model of radical transparency”, and the cooperative members even get to elect a board of directors, hire and fire management, and negotiate prices for their creations.
- Community & charitable giving: Swahili Coast champions the empowerment of the female artisans of East Africa who don’t otherwise have cultural employment opportunities. They actually used their personal savings to start their 100% artisan partner owned cooperative in Tanzania.
Meaningful employment aside, they allow customers to directly tip these makers through their “Tip your Artisans” program.
Everlane’s ethical fair trade dresses were some of our favorites. So we were thrilled to find that they also make ethical sandals to go with some of our favorite designs, from flats to block heels with “just enough height”.
Everlane, co-founded by Michael Preysman and Jesse Farmer, offer a full sustainable fashion line for both women and men, from footwear to ethical underwear. Their footwear includes flats, sneakers, rain boots, and more.
Everlane’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Materials: Everlane ethical sandals are created primarily from “100% Italian leather” uppers and insoles, sourced as a byproduct from pasture-raised cattle in either the U.S. or Italy. All cattle are raised for meat first, so their hides are used as an inevitability rather than an end in and itself: “We do not support the inhumane practice of factory farming”
While confidentiality agreements forbid them from disclosing exact sourcing partners, they assured us that “all partners across our supply chain abide by strict local, regional, and international regulations to ensure all animals are humanely treated while they are alive.”
They also conduct regular, unannounced evaluations based on the ASPCA Five Freedoms Rule to ensure this.
Environmentally, Everlane still has some progress to make. Depending on the tannery used, not all their shoes are made using Chrome-free tanning methods, and there’s no real way to tell from shoe to shoe which are made with vegetable-tanned leather vs Chrome leather from a consumer standpoint.
However, they are working toward offering strictly vegetable-tanned leather items which we hope happens soon! In the meantime, Everlane “rigorously” test all products to ensure they contain no banned chemicals.
- Supply chain & labour practices: Under the CA SB657 Supply Chain Transparency Act, Everlane audits every supplier and factory yearly. Their ethos is: “Exceptional quality. Ethical Factories. Radical Transparency.” They embody this promoting the goal to #KnowYourFactories and have an interactive map of all their factories on their website.
Each product page contains the exact location that each design is made, along with a link to view the factory. Most sandals are made in Montopoli in Val D’Arno, Italy.
While they “are not able to share more details on our tanneries and mills at this time” these entities too are audited regularly to ensure they maintain proper environmental permits and registrations. They must also comply with local and international regulations “to ensure that harmful chemicals do not pollute the environment during and after production”.
Everlane’s pricing transparency disclose the true cost of all production elements on each and every product page.
For many of these, they allow you to “choose what you pay” between three different pricing options depending on how much financial support you’re able to give the company. The lowest price covers the base cost of producing the shoes and fulfilling the order.
- Community & charitable giving: Everlane is known for their annual Black Friday fund donation campaigns, where they donate $15 of every order placed to fund ocean plastic cleanup through the non-profit Oceana. In 2019, their most successful year yet, they raised $300,000, which is enough to fund a full year of Oceana projects.
16. CHRISTY DAWN
About Christy Dawn Women’s Sustainable Sandals
Christy Dawn only makes one ethical sandal for women, but it’s probably the only summer sandal you’ll ever need. The Dawn Sandal comes in earthy colors, and what’s neat is they’ll match any of their beautifully Bohemian ethical dresses. The timeless design means you can slip between casual and dressy, effortlessly.
Christy Dawn’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: Christy Dawn is a deadstock fabric fashion company. Everything they make comes from production trimmings, leftover fabrics, and unsold garments. The Dawn Sandal is made from repurposed scrap leather, for both the upper and the sole.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Christy Dawn’s eco-friendly sandals are USA crafted, from design to delivery. All the magic happens not at their own L.A Fair Trade factory, but at a partner facility also located in L.A.
- Community & charitable giving: Christy Dawn participates in grassroots fundraisers and social initiatives. They became a “farm-to-closet company” by sponsoring regenerative cotton farming in India. They also supported a local initiative to bring healthy food options to poor neighborhoods through Olympia Ausset’s SÜPRMARKT campaign.
Read their journal to stay updated on such partnerships.
About Fauna Ethical Recycled Sandals
If the vintage (upcycled!) leather chic look is your jam, then you’ll fawn over Fauna. They sell everything from classy sandal-oxford hybrids to simple slides. These designs aren’t their own creation, but rather the products of small-scale designers across Brazil to help reach a wider audience.
Seeking to bring “peace and fashion on the horizon” Fauna works with ethical and sustainable shoe designers. Together they demonstrate that footwear need not step all over the planet.
Fauna’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: Fauna’s fabrics are as varied as their designs and brands, but our favorites are those in the “green and safe” line. You can easily filter products by four different sustainability criteria (as we’ll discuss below).
These shoes are made of materials like leftover leather scraps and recycled airplane tires. Caíques, one of these “green and safe” brands recycle 2 tons of airplane tires per season.
- Supply chain & labor practices: All Fauna shoes come from partnerships with Brazilian brands and designers. Each satisfies at least one of Fauna’s four criteria for sustainable fashion:
1) Waste No More: Sustainable sandals made of recycled materials. They also reuse production waste.
2) Green and Safe: Use of organic and biodegradable materials and non-chemical fabric processing, plus innovative bio-fabrics and energy-conservative production methods.
3) One and Done: Classic and timeless designs that are multifunctional and won’t go out of style.
4) Kind to Others: Certified ethical production lines, development of worker skills and opportunities, as well as continuing traditional crafting methods.
Each product description tells you which company made that design and which of these criteria Fauna considers them to hold.
- Community & charitable giving: Fauna participates in a wide range of individual charitable initiatives. Recently, they partially sponsored Peace Boat’s sustainable fashion show to show fashion’s role in reaching the UN’s sustainable development goals.
About D’Arçé Leather Sustainable Sandals
Founded by Monica Arce Garcia, D’Arçé is a luxury ethical shoe company with dressier sandals. If you’re looking for a little metallic flare or some delicate straps to go with that summer dress, this brand has you covered.
D’Arçé’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices
- Material: D’Arçé shoes are uniquely made of local vegetable-tanned kangaroo leather. The animals are only caught in the wilderness during population control harvests. None are killed specifically for the hides and are not a byproduct of the meat industry either. They “believe this makes it one of the most sustainable leathers available” and encourage you to read more here.
They use all grades of leather and upcycle production scraps into insoles to ensure no part is wasted.
These shoes also have hard Lactae Hevea heel grips. This type of tree milk is harvested without chopping down the tree.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Handmade in Australia by indigenous communities, D’Arçé aims to keep things as local and low impact as possible. For instance, they use biodegradable satchels over shoe boxes. As for raw materials, they source the kangaroo leather from Australia and the hardware comes from France or Spain. The Lactae Hevea is from France or Vietnam.
- Community & charitable giving: Another brand that believes in “trade not aid”, D’Arçé chooses to work with marginalized women to empower them both artistically and economically. So far, they’ve invested over a million dollars in the local economy and sponsored over 414,000 hours of employment.
HOW WE FOUND THE MOST ETHICAL SANDALS
Being sparse in material, sandals are easy to overlook in favor of larger, more resource consumptive fashion items. Truly sustainable fashion knows no size or season.
As we do with these articles, we judged the brands and their products showcased here against our sustainable and ethical fashion criteria. If you haven’t read it yet, please do, but here’s a condensed summary of our requirements:
- Materials: Low impact materials with good end-of-lives! Preferably zero waste materials that can compost or biodegrade. Upcycling and using materials already in existence is favorable, too. See below for more specifics.
- Supply chain & labor practices: Firstly, consider that all workers involved (in sourcing and manufacturing) are paid living wages and treated fairly. On the environmental side, we look for companies that reduce their operational impact by using green energy, purchasing carbon offsets, recycling their own products, and using low waste packaging. Even better if companies hold third party certifications (like B-Corp, Fair Trade, among many others) because then we know others have confirmed that they’re not greenwashing their products.
- Charitable endeavors: If companies give back and involve themselves in the world at large, all the better! For many of these footwear companies, this comes in the form of manufacturing via small artisan co-ops. This gives a level of freedom, independence, and integrity to the artists while bolstering developing communities.
Fabrics for Eco-friendly Sandals
Typically, we like compostable fabrics, but here we found the market a bit different. For most sustainable sandals, recycled materials were key.
You’ll notice many of the outsoles are made of recycled rubber sourced from trashed tires. This is great because there are So. Many. Tyres. just sitting in landfills producing greenhouse gases, or worse, being incinerated and releasing toxins into the air.
And since cars aren’t going anywhere fast, that waste will just keep coming. If we can find a way to put it to better use, great!
Natural rubber is the next best thing because it’s biodegradable and can be extracted from trees harmlessly.
Some other materials common to these eco-friendly sandals include:
- Recycled PET/Nylon: Made from upcycled plastic bottles, discarded fishing nets, and other ocean plastic.
- Deadstock fabric: Sourced from either extra unsold garments or spare cuttings from production lines.
- Cork: An all-natural material we love for shoes because it’s cushioning, supporting, and antimicrobial (odor resistant- so no sweaty, stinky sandals!). It can also be harvested without killing the cork tree and ultimately, composted
- Jute: A plant-based fiber woven from the tough, straw-like leaves of the jute plant.
- Pinatex: A plant-based fiber made from pineapple leaf scraps, which would otherwise get burned).
Let’s Talk About Leather
We know this one is a divider.
Normally, we wouldn’t include leather on our ethical fashion guides. Between the hundreds of chemicals used in the tanning process and the obvious ethical conundrum in sourcing it, leather isn’t our bag.
But here, we found a fair few ethical companies who were still using leather in some capacity. And let’s be honest most people (conscious consumers or not) use leather. Clothing or otherwise. No judgement. So if this is your thing, our goal here is to rather point you in the direction of brands who are doing leather as ethically as possible.
Some forms of leather we included, in order of sustainability:
- Upcycled/repurposed leather: The materials already exist so there’s no additional harm caused. And it repurposes them, avoiding rotting in a landfill.
- Naturally sun dyed leather: No chemicals used whatsoever, just nature working naturally.
- Vegetable-dyed leather: Goes through the tanning process but without any of the toxic chemicals.
- Chrome-free leather: Last and least sustainable. We avoid this one because it still uses some harmful tanning chemicals. However, fewer heavy metals are involved.
We also consider how the leather was sourced. As mentioned, we think upcycled leather is the best bet because it’s making use of material that already exists.
Then there’s wild-caught leather. These are typically indigenous or rural communities that also use the meat to feed the community, so no part of the animal is wasted.
Next, there’s leather as a byproduct of the meat industry. Much like the former in that the animals aren’t killed for their hides but less ideal because the meat industry, especially the industrial meat industry, is one of the least ethical and most rampant producers of greenhouse gases.
We don’t consider brands that have no clear leather sourcing policy. We also completely avoid those that source from the pure leather industry, which needlessly kills over 1 billion animals per year.
Know that we reach out to each of these brands to confirm all facts and policies.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ECO FRIENDLY AND SUSTAINABLE SANDALS
Finally, it’s time to go seek some fun in the sun. Strap on your sustainable sandals, grab your eco-friendly sunglasses, and remember your zero waste sunscreen!
If we missed your favorite ethical brand, let us know in the comments. And if you enjoyed this list, give it a share. After all, the beach is always more fun with friends.
You can also check out our other sustainable fashion and footwear guides for even more ways to make your wardrobe less wasteful and more wishful.