11 ECO FRIENDLY & ETHICAL SLIPPERS FOR THE ECO-ZY MINDED

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by Baabuk #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
Image by Baabuk

This year for the holidays, my mom hinted that she wanted a pair of Uggs. Which, of course, led us down yet another footwear rabbit hole in search of eco friendly and ethical slippers. And what a slipper-y slope it was.

We first asked ourselves, where can you buy sustainable slippers? All the slippers that first jump to mind were either full leather options like Uggs or those really cheap PVC-based foam ones that flatten after just one wear. 

Luckily, using our sustainable fashion criteria (read the full article here or keep reading past the end of the article for a slipper specific summary), we were able to find plenty of options that fell into neither category. 

While all these brands have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear, our favorite, tippy top (or should we say tippy toe?) ethical AND environmentally friendly slippers are:  Baabuk’s Sustainable Wool Slippers for their ethically sourced wool and natural rubber soles; Rawganic Hemp Slippers because they are vegan, chemical free and compostable; and finally, All Birds Wool Loungers for their innovative fabrics and raving reviews.

Let’s shuffle onward. But first, excuse us while we SLIP into something a little more sustainable.

1. BAABUK SUSTAINABLE WOOL SLIPPERS

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by Baabuk #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
Image by Baabuk

About Baabuk Sustainable Wool Slippers 

Family-owned Swiss company Baabuk was inspired by a Christmas gift of traditional Russian Valenkis, when founders Galina and Dan realized these felted shoes were the most comfortable things they had ever worn.  Their first creations attempting to replicate these “looked more like a sheep that had wandered through a car wash.”  

Luckily, they improved and took a mere eight designs to the 2013 ISPO trade show only to receive an immediate 700 orders. They then didn’t officially launch until a 2015 Kickstarter campaign gave them the necessary funds. 

Now these ISPO Gold award winning wool shoes are available all over the world.  For slippers, choose between easy-on backless slides (perfect for shuffling around the house) or ankle-high designs for more secure wear.  

Baabuk’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices 

  • Material:  Both the uppers and insoles are from sustainably felted natural New Zealand wool (using only soap and water). The outsoles of these eco friendly slippers are a natural latex rubber glued on with eco friendly glues and finished with additional hand-stitching along the edges for long-lasting, comfortable wear.
  • Supply chain & labor practices: “We love wool but we aren’t sheep,” Baabuk proclaims.  That’s why they do wool and fashion ethically, both for the animals and the workers involved.  Their slipper wool comes from New Zealand, where sheep are treated kindly and safely sheared.

Baabuk then produces everything by hand in their scratch-built workshop in Nepal (which they built right about the time a massive earthquake struck). Since job opportunities in Nepal vastly favor men, Baabuk employs mostly women.

Being a certified, B-corp since 2016, they invite you to see all their impact scores on the B-Corp website.  We checked and currently, they score an 80.1, which is 30 points above the median score for businesses of their class.

Available: Baabuk 

2. RAWGANIQUE HOUSE SLIPPERS

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by Rawganique #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
Image by Rawganique

About Rawganique Hemp Slippers 

Rawganique was founded in 1997 by off-grid island homesteaders in Denmen Island, off the coast of British Columbia. Watch the company summary here to learn more about their hemp slippers, sandals, clothing, sheets, towels, and sustainable crafting supplies, all made of organic fibers. 

While perhaps not the warmest, their all-natural vegan slippers are meticulously designed with those with severe chemical allergies and skin sensitivity in mind – everything is chemical-free.  You’ll find both options in colorful and undyed slippers, all at a very affordable price.

Rawganique’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

  • Material: We think these are some of the best ethical slippers because they’re only made of hemp, linen, and cotton, all non-GMO and organic, meaning they’re pretty much 100% compostable (save for one or two styles with elastic in the cuff, which can be removed prior to disposal). Even the footbeds are 100% organic hemp knit, with the number of padding layers varying between styles. 

For more durable women’s and men’s eco friendly canvas flat slippers, see their hemp slippers.  For something soft and snuggly, opt for organic cotton fleece. No matter the fabric, these slippers contain no BPA, PVC, heavy metals, formaldehyde, disperse dyes or glue of any kind.

  • Supply chain & labor practices:  Rawganique sources all materials from the US, Canada, and Europe, so it’s easier for them to ensure suppliers maintain fair trade standards.  Specifically, the hemp is European grown and the cotton USA grown.

All handmade manufacturing occurs at Europe’s Atelier Shoe Workshop.  Any hemp production scraps get remade into drawstring bags the slippers come to you in.

Available: Rawganique  |  Amazon (US)

3. ALLBIRDS WOOL LOUNGERS

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by Allbirds #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers

About Allbirds Loungers

We love Allbirds, a San Francisco-based (but originally from New Zealand!) certified B-Corp. We happen to think they’re one of the single best ethical sneaker companies to date (we each own a pair and are so satisfied with them). 

Our favorite thing about our Allbird sneakers is how cozy they are, so we can only imagine how amazing their Lounger line feels!  One review raves, “Is this a sock or a shoe?  It certainly feels like wearing a super comfy pair of socks everywhere I go.”

Choose between Wool Loungers and Tree Loungers, both of which come in a variety of muted colors and have flexible soles so they can be worn inside and outside.  They’re so stylish that no one will even know you’re wearing slippers out and about! 

The Tree Loungers are better for warmer weather, as they’ll cool your feet and ward off odors. For ethical warm slippers, opt for moisture-wicking and insulating Wool Loungers.

Allbirds’ Ethical and Sustainability Practices 

  • Material: Allbirds ethical wool slippers have an upper and lining made of 17.5 microns superfine ZQ Merino wool. The Tree Loungers swap the wool uppers for a silkier feeling TENCEL Lyocell made from eucalyptus plants. Both also have cushioning midsoles made of mostly castor bean oil rather than pure EVA.

For outsoles, wool trumps tree, because the wool slippers utilize their new fabric technology, SweetFoam, a bouncy substance made from Proforest-certified Brazillian sugarcane.  As the world’s first carbon-negative EVA, all byproducts go toward powering the mill and non-toxically fertilizing future crops. They haven’t made this transition yet for the Tree Loungers so those still bear a low-density EVA outsole.

Just note that neither of these slippers are vegan, as both have Merino wool insoles for its soft and odor-resistant properties.  They do promise the wool is harvested from cruelty free farms that in no way harm the sheep.

  • Supply chain & labor practices:  Aside from being assembled in WRAP-certified factories of South Korea and China, the fabrics of Allbirds sustainable indoor/outdoor slippers are first sustainably sourced.

The Merino used in the Wool Loungers comes from the many happy and fairly treated sheep in New Zealand.  It is then spun into fiber at  Europe’s only European Commission certified sustainable wool mill in Milan, Italy. The eucalyptus of the Tree Loungers comes from FSC-certified and rainfall fed South African farms (meaning it takes 95% less water to grow)

  • Green business practices: These may seem far apart, which is why Allbirds went totally Carbon Neutral in 2019 to offset all these shipping emissions. Believing “every box deserves a second chance”, you’ll receive your ethical slippers in 90% recycled cardboard packaging.
  • Community & charitable giving: Allbirds donates lightly used, returned shoes to communities in need through Soles4Souls.

Available: Allbirds

4. KYRGIES ETHICAL FELT SLIPPERS

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by Kyrgies #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
Image by Kyrgies

About Kyrgies Ethical Felt Slippers 

A Done Good-approved maker of sustainable wool slippers, Kyrgies is based in Fairfax, Virginia.  These eco friendly slippers for men, women, and children come in beautifully bright, solid colors.

The Classics range is indoor only and everything else is designed for indoor/outdoor wear.  While durable, Kyrgies remind you that they aren’t waterproof, so be careful when you wear them outside.

Kyrgies’ Ethical and Sustainability Practices

  • Material: These are mostly felted wool, which has been washed in natural soap and dyed using low-impact dyes. The Kyrgies Classics are 100% wool and have no soles, so designed for indoor wear only.  

Other slippers, like the Tengries and Kyrgies Naturals, have natural leather soles for added longevity.  The “natural” means it is tanned without chrome and chromium. This makes for more versatile wear though at a bit of a cost to the overall sustainability since leather (even when tanned sustainably) still doesn’t break down fast like other natural materials. 

The Tengries also have a little bit of elastane blended in so we recommend sticking to the other models if it’s all the same to you.

You can purchase additional insoles for any of these slippers.  These are also wool and made via a process called nuno-felting which gives the wool a more substantial shape and support capability.

  • Supply chain & labor practices:  Kyrgie’s slippers start with the free-range, carefully tended sheep of Kyrgyzstan.  These sheep are sheared only in summer, so they have plenty of warmth through the cold winters.  Sheep are important to the Kyrgyz people, and they believe treating sheep respectfully brings good luck.

From there, the wool is felted or carded into slippers in a factory in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan via traditional craftsmanship.  These factories employ mostly women to give them gainful employment opportunities in communities where there are few and far between.  

  • Community & charitable giving: Kyrgies joined 1% for the Planet in 2017, the same year they opened.  Their long-standing giving partner is One Tree Planted.  In 2018, they donated nearly 2,000 trees specifically to areas affected by wildfires. 

Available:  Etsy  |  Kyrgies  

5. MUFFLE-UP! KNIT SLIPPER BOOTIES

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by Muffle Up Slippers #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
Image by Muffle-Up Slippers

About Muffle-Up! Knit Slipper Booties 

Canadian company Muffle-Up! makes ultra-cozy eco friendly house slippers that look more like giant plush socks than anything (with a much longer-lasting bottom than any sock).  Choose from a variety of funky colors and styles, including ankle-high slippers, demi boots, and mid-calf boots. 

Aside from their unisex adult slippers, they make adorable eco friendly baby booties and toddler slippers, too.

Muffle-Up!’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

  • Material: Muffle-Up! makes sustainable wool lined slippers from 100% natural materials.  They feature Merino wool yarn, itch-free recycled sheep wool lining, and reclaimed leather non-slip soles. Prioritizing repurposed materials helps them ensure they remain “respectful of our use of animal products”. 

To compost, remove the leather soles because leather (while natural) does not biodegrade fast enough for home composting.

  • Supply chain & labor practices:  Based in Perth, Ontario, every pair of slippers is handmade right in Canada, though they do not mention where they source their virgin Merino from.  

  • Green business practices: In their studio, they maintain a zero waste policy, meaning that any fabric scraps get reused in production or are donated to community art projects.

Available:  Etsy  |  Muffle-Up!

6. BETTERFELT FELTED WOOL SLIPPERS

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by Betterfelt #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
Image by Betterfelt

About BetterFelt Felted Wool Slippers 

BetterFelt is a Danish company founded by Thomas Glerup in 2007.  They specialize in woolen shoes of all sorts. Their felted wool slippers are available for men, women, kids, and babies, in every kind of style from open toe slides to ankle-high boots. 

BetterFelt guarantees them to be non-itchy and even temperature regulated (even if worn without socks). Soft and sustainable? Slippers never FELT so good.

BetterFelt Felted Wool Slippers’ Ethical and Sustainability Practices 

  • Material: These ethical felt slippers have 100% wool uppers that are washed only in organic soap to preserve the natural lanolin content of the wool.  Lanolin is a natural wax present in wool, but it often gets washed out by chemicals.  This lanolin helps protect the slippers from dirt and odor.

Given our preference for vegan materials, we’d avoid the calf leather soles on these in favor of the natural rubber soles of their indoor/outdoor designs.

  • Supply chain & labor practices:  Their REACH compliant wool is processed via hand- felting at BetterFelt’s own workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal (where the wool is also locally sourced).  As a Fair Trade certified importer, all workers are paid fairly, and you can buy knowing your purchase paid for half a day’s work for one of these workers.

Each slipper comes with a small embroidered symbol representing the artist that made it.  Meet The Maker of your slippers here.

  • Green business practices: As much as possible, they use recycled or biodegradable shipping materials and dispatch most items by sea rather than air.
  • Community & charitable giving: Because Nepal lacks so many basic opportunities and luxuries, this brand started the BetterFelt Welfare Nepal fund in 2013 to improve the living conditions of their employees. 

This fund goes toward providing health services, cultural cultivation, and cash grants for education, for the employees and their children. They offer free English courses and even basic literacy courses if needed.

Available:   BetterFelt (US)  |  BetterFelt (UK)

7. CHILOTE SHOES ETHICAL HOUSE SLIPPERS

About Chilote Ethical House Slippers

For “warm feet, happy soul”, check out the adorably earthy Chilote house shoes.  These loose cable knit wool slippers not only look super cozy but are made with the utmost ethical practices. 

Choose from between baby slippers and three different adult slipper styles: salmon leather slippers, organic leather and wool slippers, and raw wool slippers.

 Chilote’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

  • Material: Chilote’s most sustainable slippers are their raw wool slippers, which are made with nothing more than raw Patagonian sheep wool.  

Both other designs have leather soles, which still strives to be as sustainable as leather can be.  Their salmon leather slippers have soles made of upcycled salmon leather (which is literally made from salmon skin as a byproduct of the fishing industry).  The organic leather designs feature saddle leather soles organically tanned using vegetables.

  • Supply chain & labor practices: Everything is slow crafted using locally sourced wool handmade by an independent co-op of over 50 female artisans in Patagonia.  The co-op structure essentially means there is no traditional factory so the artisans can work wherever and however they want.  

They are also paid 43% more than even the average fair wage of the region. Scan the QR code on the tag to learn exactly #WhoMadeYourSlippers.

  • Green business practices:  B-Corp certified and Climate Positive, Chilote aims for top-notch sustainability.  While their carbon footprint is minimal, they still offset it (and more) through EcoSphere by specifically supporting Peru’s Cordillera Azul National Park.

Shipping materials are a simple plastic-free, reusable tube. And to encourage self-repair, you’ll also find a small repair kit bearing extra wool thread and salmon skin.

Available:  Made Trade  |  Chilote Shoes 

8. TOAST JUTE SLIPPERS

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by TOAST #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
Image by TOAST

About Toast 

Toast has been charring the white-bread world of fast fashion for over 20 years. They started by designing ethical nightwear in a small farmhouse in Wales. While they make sustainable slippers for women, there are lots of vivid colors and two types to choose from. 

Aside from the jute, they also make felted wool suede slippers, but since the best eco friendly slippers would be those that are vegan as well, the jute ones win in our book.

Plus, since the jute is hard wearing and plaited, it wipes clean! So if you spill morning breakfast on your slippers because you haven’t had enough coffee yet, no sweat.

Toast’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

  • Material: Jute is a natural plant fiber from the Corchorus plant (fun fact: it’s also used in non-toxic yoga mats). The 100% jute crepe of the slippers (even the soles) grown and sewn from a single jute braid by crafters in Bangladesh. 

Their wool suede slippers are made with British spun natural wool and suede leather sourced only as a by-product of the food industry. Toast has a zero tolerance policy for animal cruelty.

  • Supply chain & labor practices:  From the design studios in London and Swansea, Toast’s slipper production is split between two factories: one in Mallorca, Spain for the jute line, and one in a Nepalese co-op for the wool line. Both use only hand-sewing.

All suppliers are upheld to fair trade standards that mimic that of the ILO and the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • Green business practices: They also minimize company waste (through donating fabric scraps, careful use of raw materials, and composting), utilize naturally generated electricity when possible and reduce office use of air conditioning. 

As a brand, they believe we should repair rather than replace, and offer free in-shop repair services and host workshops on the Japanese Sashiko method of fabric repair. If you have a Toast garment you don’t wear anymore, bring it back and choose a different preloved piece, as per their Circle Initiative.

  • Community & charitable giving: A big part of Toast’s goal is to foster artistic development, not just through their Nepalese production co-ops, but in local communities, too.  

They host a three-day Creative Residency retreat every year as well as shorter workshops (on anything from vegetable dying to block printing) and inspiring talks monthly.

Available: Toast

9. FREEWATERS SLIPPERS

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by FreeWaters #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
Image by FreeWaters

About FreeWaters Slippers 

San Francisco-based FreeWaters initiated their first charitable water project before the company even put any shoes on sale.  That’s how much they believed in the idea. After launching an initiative to hand dig wells in Kenya in 2011, they launched their first sandal line.

Since then, this has expanded to other shoes and of course, slippers.  Each is travel tested for durability and #CraftedForFreedom.  Their line is minimal, with an only-the-essentials outlook, which we love.  Their eco friendly mens slippers offer a choice of two “Jeffrey” styles and for women, two “Chloe” styles.

The most unique part of these slippers is their arch support, making them a great eco friendly camp slipper for more active adventures.  And they’re only $45!

FreeWaters’ Ethical and Sustainability Practices

  • Material: FreeWaters is not a totally vegan footwear company (but they do use only Gold Certified leather when they do).  However, their slippers are all animal-FREE and made of vegan faux wool and faux leather. These synthetic alternatives mean that you as the consumer must be extra conscious of proper end-of-life disposal.

The colorful patterned Happy Arch insoles contain 10-15% recycled EVA foam, sourced from post-production waste in their factory. Again, synthetic EVA isn’t ideal, but it’s still an unfortunate reality for footwear, so it’s nice to see progress.

FreeWaters has always been PVC and formaldehyde-free and used only low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) water-based glues.  But starting in 2020, they’re also switching to E-Dye®, a new “waterless” dyeing technology that requires 75% less water, fewer chemicals, and fewer CO2 emissions.

  • Supply chain & labor practices: We’ll be reaching out directly for some clarification and will update as soon as we hear back.  Right now, all they mention is that they use the footwear developer TH Park.
  • Green business practices: For packaging, they use recycled board hang tags and boxes and ship in Cradle to Cradle-certified mailers made from eco stone powder.
  • Community & charitable giving: As per their name, FreeWaters’ biggest initiative is to provide clean, safe drinking water for communities in Kenya, Haiti, and the Philippines by partnering with various grassroots organizations.
Available: FreeWaters 

10. INTOA DESIGN UPCYCLED DENIM SLIPPERS

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by INTOA Designs #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
Image by INTOA Designs

About INTOA Design Upcycled Denim Slippers  

INTOA Design is a Finnish company founded by Helena Hannula in 2010.  As makers of “old in new form,” they transform old jeans, rugs, blankets, towels, and other discarded clothing into new and innovative designs. 

Their slippers come in slide, low rise, and ankle-high designs and are nothing if not beautifully quirky. The child sustainable slippers are especially adorable!

INTOA Design’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

  • Material: Recycled jeans are the basis of these slippers, but they have an insulating lining made of either recycled felted wool or terry.  Finally, they bear two leather patches on the sole for high wear areas.

However, because these slippers are handmade to order and customizable, vegans can request a terry lining and for the omission of these leather patches.  Other things you can customize include the color of the lining and the fade of the denim outer (either blue or gray).

  • Supply chain & labor practices:  These recycled materials come from anyone willing to part with them.  They don’t discriminate on the source, as long as they’re giving second life to something destined for the dumpster.  Most of their materials sourcing comes from flea markets, local manufacturers, and community donations. 

  • Green business practices: In turn, they want to produce as little waste as possible, so their products are made carefully and shipped without superfluous packaging.  Their packaging is also recycled and recyclable.

Available:  Etsy  |  INTOA Design

11. GIESSWEIN ETHICAL WOOL SLIPPERS

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by Geisswein #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
Image by Geisswein

About Giesswein Ethical Wool Slippers 

Austrian company Giesswein has been in the biz a looong time. They’ve been making wool products since 1954, when they started making sweaters.  It wasn’t until 1974 that they released the first wool Lodge Shoe, and they’ve been a lounge legend of the industry ever since.

Today, Giesswein is still family-run, currently run by the third-generation brothers Markus and Johannes Giesswein.

With ultra-thick wool felt, these mens and womens eco friendly winter slippers will keep your feet toasty (but not sweaty). They come in three designs with further variations on how far they come up the ankle. 

Giesswein’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices  

  • Material: Giesswein slippers are made of 100% virgin wool of the highest quality made with 3D-Stretch technology.  They include a support insole also made of 100% virgin wool. Because of the fact that they don’t add anything to the virgin wool, the wool is 100% compostable.

They are 100% against mulesing, the “dark side to Merino wool”.  Giesswein is absolutely against it, so much so that they require confirmation on the wool’s origin upon every raw delivery: “for us and our suppliers, respectful treatment of animals is a clear must.”

  • Supply chain & labor practices:  Giesswein tries to stay as local as possible.  First, they source the yarns from mills in Italy and the UK, then manufacture the final wool fabric at their very own headquarters in Brixlegg, Austria.They only outsource the last step of hand-assembly to ethical factories in Europe and sometimes (in the case of their sneakers but not slippers) Vietnam.
  • Green business practices: They’ve been recycling water for fabric production since 1997, at the time being the first in Austria to do so.  Even today, they reuse 90% of the water in their manufacturing process and ensure that no fabric scrap gets wasted through their rigorous fabric recycling.  In that way, they’re closed-loop!

Available: Giesswein  |  Amazon

WHY BUY SUSTAINABLE SLIPPERS?

In writing our recent article on ethical sneakers we were absolutely shocked to find how wasteful and problematic the footwear industry really is. About 300 million pairs of shoes get thrown away every year.

That’s not even considering the waste created from buying those shoes.  From a consumer perspective alone, think about the shipping box, then the shoe box inside, the tissue paper, poly bags, cardboard shape holders, and all the other bits and bobs that come with your shoes.  What do most people do with them?  Maybe some recycle them, but most end up in the trash.

While perhaps seemingly harmless, slippers are just another component of this incredibly wasteful subsection of the fashion industry.  Since most slippers are cheap, they have even worse lifespans and durability than many other shoes. 

Leather slippers are some of the worst offenders for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Even if it’s natural, leather takes hundreds of years to break down
  • It either supports the greenhouse gas belching livestock industry or worse, doesn’t come from meat industry byproducts, needlessly killing over 1 billion animals a year.
  • Leather is processed via a chemical tanning process (up to 250 chemicals are used!), which is incredibly dangerous both for the environment and for the workers in charge of performing the task.

Wool is another common material used in slippers, and while the list above demonstrates that there are ethical ways to use wool, there are equally as many ways it can be done improperly.  

In Australia, for instance, it’s still common to shear sheep via mulesing, a method of harvesting wool by removing the rear of the Merino sheep… without anesthetization.  The logic is the process will render the sheep’s rear scarred and smooth, so flies can’t lay larvae in the sheep and cause infection and death. 

Well seeming intentions aside, the whole concept is absolutely revolting.  And it’s easy for companies to pull the wool over our eyes and just claim the wool is ethical, without any evidence to say it actually is.

HOW WE FOUND THESE SUSTAINABLE AND ECO FRIENDLY SLIPPERS

You might now be wondering how we differentiated between legit brands and brands that are really just a wolf in Merino clothing (get it?).  As with all our fashion brand guides, we used sustainable and ethical fashion criteria, personally developed by us after extensive research.

The four big categories are:

  • Materials: As low impact as possible, ideally naturally in nature and organically processed so they can fully biodegrade to compost in the end. Keep reading for slipper-specific fabrics. 
  • Supply chain & labor practices: Human rights violations are a big issue in the fashion industry, so it’s essential that ethical companies don’t contribute to this. To know whether a company treats its workers fairly (living wages, safe work environments, etc.), we look for supply chain transparency and third-party certifications.  B-Corp and Fair Trade are the most common but there are plenty of other reputable ones you can read about here

  • Inclusivity: For most fashion articles (like ethical activewear), we look for diverse models and large size ranges, thus promoting a healthy body image.  However, this doesn’t apply to footwear, so we omitted this criterion from the list.

  • Green business practices: Any ways the company attempts to reduce their environmental impact (carbon offsets, water saving practices, renewable energy suppliers, etc).

  • Charitable endeavors: A company that gives back and/or cultivates an empowered, caring community is a great bonus. Many of these slipper companies are so small and specific that they weren’t involved in any charitable activities (or at least not that they noted on their websites).  We didn’t discount these brands because there simply aren’t that many in the whole pool yet.  As they grow, we have hope that this will change.

Fabrics for Eco Friendly Slippers

As always, the best fabrics are natural ones, grown and processed organically without the use of chemicals.  The fewer components of different fabrics, the easier it is to properly dispose of them at the end-of-life.  This is where ethical slippers have a leg up on sneakers because they have fewer components to consider: 

  • Uppers/body: The best fabrics (as with any fashion item) are things like organic cotton, hemp, jute, and linen.  When it comes to something specifically designed to keep you warm, however, wool is a go-to fabric for many.  

A word on wool: While we tend to aim for vegan products, we’re willing to make an exception for truly ethical and consciously harvested wool (one of the few things that can be cruelty free but not vegan, if done correctly. 

Sheep need occasional shearing to stay healthy, so wool as an animal byproduct is not inherently wrong.  But it’s crucial the sheep have good lives (free range, not cage raised), they’re shorn in warm weather only, and their skin isn’t damaged in the process.

How do we know these standards are met?  First, we aim for Merino wool.  Not only is this a finer and softer strand of wool, but it comes from Merino sheep, most commonly found in New Zealand, where sheep greatly outnumber humans and are raised ethically.  Merino can also come from Australia, where mulesing is still acceptable, so we look for New Zealand Merino specifically.

Merino labeled ZQ is that which is certified to the highest ethical standards.  Another certification to look for is the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS).

  • Insoles: Lots of slippers don’t have separate insoles, but rather use the upper for full foot coverage.  Those that do have separate insoles are typically made of felted Merino wool, which is a good insole material because it’s moisture-wicking, breathable, temperature regulatory, and antimicrobial (meaning it’s also odor resistant).  
  • Outsoles: Natural rubber (as opposed to synthetic latex) is ideal, being both durable and biodegradable. Rubber is a renewable resource harvested by harmlessly tapping the natural latex of the tree (like tapping for maple syrup).

Even some otherwise ethical slipper brands carry some with leather soles (which we’ve recommended against in the above list).  The exceptions are those that utilize recycled leather as opposed to virgin leather, meaning they use leather scraps that are already in existence. This means they’re not contributing to the harm of any animal (that harm is already done) and are also reducing waste so that animal’s hide was not taken in vain.

Note that we always email each brand to confirm these policies. We will update if anything changes upon their response. 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON ETHICAL SLIPPERS

See? You can be cozy and eco-conscious at the same time! Which, frankly, is the best news we’ve had since plastic bag bans! And let’s face it… we could all use a little good news right now.

Whether you need something cushy to keep you cool in the heat or something to shield your toes from all those unexpected desert storms happening Stateside, we hope this list of the best eco friendly slippers has helped.

Feel free to share this article with your favorite earth-conscious homebody and let us know in the comments if you have a favorite sustainable slipper we didn’t come across.

All these sustainable and ethical slippers have us feeling a little cozier about the world of ethical footwear... Image by Baabuk #sustainablefashion #ethicalslippers
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