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11 Recycled Shoe Brands Swapping New Materials For Old


Want to take a stroll down sustainability street with us?

Because we’re sole-d on recycled shoes.

We’re talking tennies made of trash, boots out of bottles, and hemp based high-tops.

All of these and more are used by numerous recycled shoe brands to create on-point foot-styles to keep you in step (environmentally speaking).

But who makes shoes from recycled plastic, you ask? SAOLA does. Each pair of recycled bottle shoes is made with three to seven recycled PET bottles. 

Thesus makes boots and conscious clogs from an impressive 95% recycled materials. 

While Rothy’s takes recycled material shoes a step closer to full circularity with their twice-recycled materials. 

Wondering how we found the best shoes made of recycled plastic and more?

Jump down to the end of the article where we’ll walk you through our process, step-by-step.

*This post contains affiliate links

1. CARIUMA

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Image by Cariuma

About Cariuma

In Certified B-corp Cariuma’s words:

“We love an old-school aesthetic as long as it’s made with new-school ethics.”

They embody “old-school” in their retro-inspired styles of high-tops, low-tops, and slip-ons for men and women.

The “new-school ethics” finds expression in they’re recycled plastic sneakers.

Carimua’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

The majority of the plastic used for the uppers, laces, labels, and threads is recycled. 

Carimua’s recycled PET is GRS certified, so if you’re looking for a pair of shoes made from recycled plastic, these are certified to contain a minimum percentage of it. 

Other sustainably sourced materials include bamboo, natural rubber, GOTS-certified organic cotton, sugarcane, mamona oil, and vegetable tanned leather sourced from LWG-Gold certified suppliers.

65% of their products are vegan and they use bluesign®-approved chemicals for their dyes.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Cariuma’s WRAP-certified manufacturing partner is audited against their comprehensive Code of Conduct. 

The average wage is 79% above the legal minimum wage.

The company is working towards full traceability of its supply chain. It currently has 100% traceability of its Tier 1 suppliers, 85% of Tier 2 suppliers, and 59% of Tier 3.

Green business practices: 

Cariuma’s warehouse building is ISO 14001:2015 Certified and LEED Gold Certified for meeting high environmental standards. 

Their LWG-Gold leather suppliers use chrome and chemical-free tanning methods and reuse the water involved in the cleaning process.

Cariuma’s sneakers made from recycled plastic will appropriately come boxed in recycled cardboard packaging and via carbon-neutral shipping.

Community & charitable giving: 

Two trees are planted in the Brazilian rainforest for every pair of recycled sneakers sold.

Available: Cariuma

2. THOUSAND FELL

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Image by Thousand Fell

About Thousand Fell’s

Thousand Fell is all about turning old shoes into new shoes. 

The brand has created the first zero waste, closed-loop recyclable, and recycled sneaker to stomp on the 97% of sneakers that currently end up in landfills.

Their sustainable sneakers made of recycled materials are vegan, stain-proof, water-resistant, and tested to last for 2.4 million steps.

Thousand Fell’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

They may look like recycled leather shoes, but it’s actually recycled bottles that create the leather-like uppers, as well as mesh liners and laces. 

The outsoles are made from recycled rubber. 

Midsoles and insoles partially feature materials like castor beans, coconut husk, sugar cane, and palm leaf fibers (from food waste).

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Thousand Fell’s recycled shoes are made in a family-owned factory in Brazil using as many locally sourced materials as possible.

Green business practices: 

Can shoes be recycled?

With Thousand Fell, they can. Send back your old recycled kicks and receive $20 off your next order. TF will either refurbish and donate them or break them down to become new recycled sneakers.

Any materials TF can’t reuse are sent on to the upcycling partners. 

The company offsets its carbon and water usage, and orders come in an organic tote bag and FSC-certified shoe box.

Community & charitable giving: 

Any returns of their tennis shoes made from recycled plastic are refurbished and given to someone in need via their partnership with Sole4Soles

Thousand Fell is a member of 1% for the Planet.

Available: Thousand Fell

3. VIVAIA

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Image by Vivaia

About Vivaia

Newcomer Vivaia’s mission is to create stylish and sustainable footwear and accessories. 

Their recycled water bottle shoes include heels, loafers, sandals, mules, sneakers, and boots—all machine and hand washable.

While they lean heavily into making womens recycled plastic shoes, they also have select slip-ons and lace-ups for men.

Vivaia’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

PET bottles from the ocean are recycled into a signature thread and used to knit the uppers. Each pair of recycled bottles shoes contains about six of them.

Other materials include an herbal PU foam insole, carbon-free rubber outsole, and natural latex rubber or recyclable TPE yoga mat midsoles. 

Some contain wool but many vegan styles are available.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Shoes are made at a regularly audited facility in China, ensuring fair and healthy conditions. 

Green business practices: 

Their factory is partly powered by renewable energy and a low-waste production process reduces production waste by over 30%. 

Packing boxes are made from 100% recycled cardboard.

Community & charitable giving: 

For every pair of Avis flats sold, the brand donates $5 to SOS Children’s Village

Available: Vivaia

4. 8000KICKS

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Image by 8000Kicks

About 8000Kicks

Get a runner’s high with 8000Kicks’ waterproof sneakers made from recycled materials—and cannabis.

This Portugal-based brand makes hemp shoes to match your hemp clothing, while proving you don’t need plastic to make sneakers. 

They offer two styles of recycled material sneakers: a casual zero-drop model and one that’s more active-ready.

8000Kicks’ Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

8000Kicks make sneakers using hemp fabric uppers and anti-slip soles made from either recycled rubber or Bloom Algae (also helping remove harmful algae from natural waterways).

They’re 100% vegan, down to naturally antibacterial and breathable hemp insoles.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

The shoes are made in China and Portugal at regularly inspected facilities by the representatives 8000Kicks employes in both countries.

Their Portuguese factory provides workers with free education and health care.

Green business practices: 

8000Kicks chooses to be a vegan shoe brand partially because it generates less CO2. Only 4-5kg of CO2 is produced per shoe compared to 100kg(!) for traditional leather ones.

That small amount is offset through their hemp farms and tree planting.

They’re also working with factory partners to upscale renewable energy use. Their Portuguese factory currently uses 45%-55% renewable energy and their Chinese factory uses 30%-40%.

Available: 8000Kicks

5. THESUS

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Image by Thesus

About Thesus

Formerly Alice + Whittles, BIPOC women-owned Canadian brand Thesus is no stranger to shoes made out of recycled ocean plastic

They use an impressive 95% recycled materials for their collection of eco friendly boots and clogs and they’re aiming for 100%.

Embodying the concept of a minimal wardrobe for feet, they offer two essential and classic styles.

Thesus’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Making shoes from recycled plastic for Thesus means 100% ocean plastic uppers, 100% recycled PET bottle laces, and 45% recycled natural rubber soles. 

They also use recycled synthetic wool in their boots.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

After months of looking for the right partners, production is split 50/50 between family-owned factories in Sri Lanka and Portugal.

They pay a living wage to all manufacturing staff and aim for all of their material suppliers to provide a living wage to their staff within the year.

Green business practices: 

Thesus is striving to become a Climate Neutral Certified company by the end of 2022. 

Community & charitable giving: 

Proceeds from limited-edition designs support a number of charitable organizations. 

Available: Thesus

6. ALLBIRDS

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Image by Allbirds

About Allbirds

Certified B-Corp Allbirds is based in New Zealand, and given there are about seven times more sheep than people there it’s no wonder ethical wool is their main material. 

However, recent years have seen them increasingly embrace the recycled shoes brand tag.

They make recycled sneakers and sustainable running shoes for men and women, as well as sandals, slip-ons, hiking shoes, and slippers.

Allbird’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

For recycled running shoes, Allbirds combines natural materials like wool or TENCEL Lyocell with recycled plastic bottle laces and bio-based TPU eyelets.

The cushion and support are thanks to castor bean oil and Proforest-certified Brazilian sugarcane SweetFoam, the world’s first carbon-negative green EVA. 

Their ethical slippers are made from recycled wool, recycled polyester, and natural rubber.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Their ZQ-certified merino wool is ethically sourced from New Zealand and the TENCEL Lyocell from FSC-certified rain-fed South African farms. 

Regular 3rd party audits are in place in their supply chain and they work with WRAP-certified factories in China, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Green business practices: 

The company is 100% certified Carbon Neutral and uses 90% recycled cardboard packaging.

Community & charitable giving: 

Allbirds have partnered with Soles4Souls to donate lightly worn pre-loved pairs to communities in need. 

Available: Allbirds

7. SAOLA

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Image by Saola

About SAOLA

Named after an endangered bovine species, French brand SAOLA does their part by offering womens and mens shoes made from recycled plastic.

Designs for their recycled sneakers include lace-ups, slip-ons, and sandals in various colors.

SAOLA’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Offering shoes made out of recycled plastic bottles, each set of SAOLAs feature 3-7 bottles that have been turned into GRS-certified rPET.

The insoles and most outsoles are made with recycled algae foam from BLOOM Foam.

They use organic cotton for their laces and natural cork insoles.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

SAOLA works with a well-established and reputable factory in Vietnam that has high social and environmental standards in place. 

Regular visits are carried out by their local agent and they have applied for BSCI certification. 

They choose Vietnam over France because most materials are sourced in east Asia so it actually keeps their supply chain footprint smaller.

Green business practices: 

Not only are their sneakers recycled, but also machine washable to extend their longevity.

Community & charitable giving: 

Members of 1% for the Planet, SAOLA’s contributions to wildlife conservation organizations.

1% of profits go to each of the following: Mwalua Wildlife Trust. Bonobo Sanctuary, Sun Bear Outreach, SEE Turtles, and Coral Guardian.

Available: SAOLA

8. EATING THE GOOBER

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Image by Eating the Goober

About Eating The Goober

Athens-based clothing, accessories, and footwear brand, Eating The Goober is named after the magical peanut that turns cartoon character Goofy into a superhero. 

Say goodbye to owning dozens of different sandals to match different outfits.

With the Ethical Magic Sliders, you’ll only need one pair of these vegan sandals made from recycled materials.

Featuring over 45 interchangeable upper straps that snap into place, the recycled material shoes were winners of the Etsy Design Awards.

Eating The Goober’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

The soles are made from recycled car tires and the uppers from Piñatex (a bio-based vegan leather made from recycled pineapple industry scraps).

Non recycled shoe components include a cotton lining and cork and rubber anatomical insoles.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Eating The Goober’s shoes made out of recycled materials are handmade by local craftsmen who are paid a fair wage for their work. 

Green business practices: 

By selling these multi-purpose ethical sandals on Etsy, they ensure carbon-neutral shipping.

Available: Etsy

9. ROTHY’S

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Image by Rothy’s

About Rothy’s

If you’re on the hunt for comfy sustainable flats, loafers, or sneakers, Rothy’s recycled water bottles shoes have you (and your feet) covered. 

Their styles, colors, and overall selection is vast, but that doesn’t mean they sacrifice their eco-efforts.

This San Francisco-based brand’s footwear features 100% post-consumer recycled plastic uppers.

Rothys’ Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

Rothy’s has turned more than 125 million plastic water bottles into their signature rPET thread which is used in all their recycled plastic shoes

Other materials include algae-based foams, hemp, natural rubber, recycled ocean plastic, and bio-based TPU. 

All shoes are machine washable to keep them smelling feet-free.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Rothy’s recycled shoes are made at their own factory in China, which means they can ensure top-notch environmental and social standards.

Green business practices: 

Rothy’s 3D knitting technology eliminates 30% of the material waste typical of traditional cut-and-sew manufacturing

Having piloted their first recycling program, they’re taking steps toward a closed-loop production model in place by 2023 with a sustainability council to guide the process.

Their packaging is made with 95% post-consumer recycled materials and they offset carbon emissions through CarbonFund.org

Community & charitable giving: 

Rothy’s regularly makes donations to charitable organizations.

Available: Rothy’s

10. INDOSOLE

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Image by Indosole

About Indosole’s Shoes from Recycled Materials

Indosole is a Certified B Corp flipping recycled car tires into recycled flip flops and slides.

There are plenty of colors to choose from for men and women, as well as recycled kids shoes.

Indosole’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

These recycled material shoes are all about turning #TiresToSoles and #SolesWithSoul.

The outsoles are made from recycled tires and the straps are made from “ENVIRO” fiber, a PU alternative made using less water and energy.

The footbeds have an embedded arch support, are 100% waterproof, and feature a mix of recycled EVA and natural rubber. 

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Indosole’s recycled shoes are made in Indonesia using locally sourced materials. 

Their B Corp certification ensures high social and environmental standards are maintained.

Green business practices: 

Built to last, they come with a one-year warranty to keep you flipping, not flopping.

Community & charitable giving: 

As members of 1% for the Planet, Indosole supports various charities including the WWF, SeaTrees, One Tree Planted, and Save The Children.

Available: Indosole

11. LANGBRETT

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Image by Langbrett

About LANGBRETT’s Recycled Material Shoes

Clothing and footwear brand LANGBRETT describes itself as “a group of surfers and nature lovers”. 

They offer a colorful array of vegan boots, sandals, and sneakers made from recycled materials for women and men.

That’s in addition to clothing for the whole family and a selection of surf, skate, and bike items.

Langbrett’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Materials: 

The SUM recycled sneakers feature soles made from 100% recycled closed loop rubber sourced from production waste and other recycled shoes. 

The uppers and linings are made from recycled cotton using certified dyeing. 

For the rest of their plastic free shoe collections, LANGBRETT uses recycled cork, natural rubber, and organic cotton.

Non-vegan styles utilize recycled chrome-free tanned leather offcuts (the only form of truly ethical leather) and wool from certified organic farms.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

LANGBRETT’s shoes are handmade in Portugal by workers who receive fair salaries.

Green business practices: 

Using a fully circular production model, all shoes are recyclable. By returning them to the brand, you can ensure your recycled material sneakers are recycled at least once more.

Their dyehouse cleans and purifies all water before releasing it back into the environment.

Community & charitable giving: 

The LANGBRETT club arranges various non-commercial, community events including movie nights, workshops, sewing and repair events, live music, and lectures on their favorite topics.

Available: LANGBRETT

HOW WE FOUND THE BEST RECYCLED SHOES

Finding shoes made of recycled materials was step one, but it wasn’t our sole consideration.

Just like when we sussed out the sustainable rain boots, repairable shoes and ethical heels, we considered our ethical and sustainable fashion criteria.

Materials:

Footwear is a notoriously finicky subject due to the many components and materials required to make a sturdy pair of shoes. The options are near endless.

For this list, we prioritized shoes made from recycled plastic bottles, recycled tires, or any other manner of recycled material, especially anything recycled to replace the EVA foam that makes shoes cushiony—like recycled algae!

This is still the component sustainable shoe companies struggle most with.

Recycled plastic shoes often still feature natural materials like organic cotton, hemp, cork fabric, and wool for linings and insoles. 

Shoes made out of recycled plastic are synthetic fabrics so they’re not compostable, which is okay because shoes rarely are. 

They’re still diverting materials from landfills, cleaning up the oceans, and keeping materials in circulation for longer. 

Supply chain & labor practices:

Being an ethical shoe brand also means being mindful of the people behind the shoes, as well as the planet under them.

Ethical manufacturing is crucial, especially in an industry historically plagued by sweatshop labor and worker rights abuses. 

Regular independent audits carried out by third-party organizations are the best way to seek reassurance of high social and environmental standards. 

Green business practices:

Shoes made out of recycled materials are the first steps on a path toward sustainable footwear.  

But it’s a long and winding road that starts with creating durable and washable shoes so that they can cover a lot of ground before needing to be recycled again.

Other things top recycled shoe brands are doing include offering repair and recycling services, counteracting emissions by supporting carbon offset programs, and using renewable energy.

Community & charitable giving:

Brands that go the extra mile with awareness-raising, community events, and donations of products or proceeds put an extra spring in our step.


FINAL THOUGHTS ON RECYCLED SHOE BRANDS

With over 22 billion pairs of shoes ending up in landfill every.single.year, the footwear industry has to reduce the size of its colossal footprint.

Brands offering shoes made from recycled ocean plastic, plastic bottles, tires, or old shoes is a huge step in the right direction.

Let’s just make sure we don’t buy shoes made of recycled plastic if we don’t need them or send them to landfill after one lifetime.

Brands offering circular recycling services are lending a hand (err, foot) in this matter but it’s important we do our part. If you’re replacing a worn-out pair of shoes, try to recycle them, too.

Maybe they’ll end up in your next pair of sneakers made of recycled materials.

Have any friends or family that could use some sustainability in their step? Share this list so they too can support recycled shoes brands supporting our planet.


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