Fashion and footwear have been huge contributors to our current climate and ecological emergency. There is really no way around that — Greta Thunberg's comments in Vogue fully encapsulate our growing frustration with the fashion industry's irresponsibility. Yet, there is hope.

Hope that in the future being more environmentally friendly is less of a buzzword and marketing campaign, but instead lies at the core of the industry’s strategy. While there is currently no truly sustainable sneakers brand, there are brands across the world that are trying to limit their environmental impact.

This positive change has given rise to brands that use recycled cotton, hemp-based fabrics, vegan leather, and synthetic rubber in their products. They source these materials locally while ethically working with artisans to manufacture their shoes. From sketch to upper, these sustainable sneakers are created to ensure as little goes to waste as possible.

We’ve rounded up some of the best brands for more planet-friendly, sustainable sneakers.


A leader in outdoor footwear, Keen offers everything from protective workwear to sandals designed for sailing, all of which display its no-nonsense approach to creating highly functional footwear.

While on its mission to create footwear that can handle tough conditions, it also makes sure to minimize its impact on the climate. For example, the brand is 95% PFC-free, using alternatives to the harmful chemicals that are used in the outdoor industry to repel water, and sources from Leather Working Group-certified tanneries that use a closed-loop system that reduces water and energy use while preventing any wastewater pollution.

Finding the balance between creating a product that is both highly functional in the great outdoors and has a minimal environmental impact is no easy feat, but KEEN is one label working to find that balance.


We've previously described Norda's footwear as Lamborghini's for your feet, and that's because there's some serious technology that goes into making its footwear as fast as it possibly can be.

Specializing in trail running shoes, its shoes can handle rough terrains at high speeds thanks to a Vibram sole unit and lightweight construction. However, the label has been making fans beyond the running community thanks to its minimal designs, comfort, and eco-friendly fabrics.

On its 001 sneakers, the upper uses a bio-based Dyneema that makes use of renewable or recycled raw materials to create a durable and lightweight fabric. So durable, in fact, that the brand claims it is 15x stronger than steel at the same weight.


French label VEJA is one of the most recognizable and responsible footwear brands around. Founded in 2003 and now stocked in some of the most prestigious stores worldwide, VEJA has always placed great importance on producing sneakers that have "one foot in design, and the other in social responsibility."

The brand works closely with organic farming co-operatives out of North-Eastern Brazil to source their cotton, ensuring fair wages and a planet-friendly approach in the process. The rubber soles are made using naturally occurring rubbers from the Amazon, working with native rubber tappers to sustainably source this precious material without the need for deforestation. Finally, waterproof mesh is applied to the soles of VEJA sneakers, with each sole requiring three recycled plastic bottles to be made.

VEJA has since expanded into 100 percent vegan footwear with the V-10 style, which carries the recognizable V logo on the upper. Other notable styles include the V-Knit collaboration with Rick Owens and the classic Campo tennis silhouette.


Ever since Achilles Ion Gabriel took over at the helm of both Camper and its experimental subline CAMPERLAB, he has revolutionized the label. That has included releasing footwear with a surrealist twist, making the line more unisex, and upping its sustainability targets.

So far, the designer's brought the number of responsible materials (such as recycled or organically produced natural fabrics) used for Camper above the 90% mark and reworked models so that they are more easily recyclable.

And with CAMPERLAB's recent sneaker release (shown above) he's taken things a step further. Thanks to its 3D bonding technology, the sneaker doesn't include glue, stitching, or eyelets to make recycling as easy as possible. Meanwhile, the fully-recyclable sneaker is crafted with an outer cage that holds a 3D-knitted water-repellent sock crafted from recycled PET.


Founded by multi-disciplinary artist Mats Rombaut, his namesake brand has been creating some of the most experimental and eye-catching footwear around in recent years. That has included sneakers covered in harnesses, hyper-futuristic sock runners, and ballerina pumps turned chunky stompers — amongst much more.

But its footwear isn't only exciting thanks to its unconventional designs, the brand is also completely vegan and uses luxurious plant-based materials, recycled fibers, and high-grade artificial leather.

The fabrics you will find used in its collections include ECONYL® regenerated nylon, BLOOM (an algae-blended resin containing algae biomass and bio-based additives), and a leather alternative produced from apple waste.

Thousand Fell

With over 5 decades of combined experience in the footwear industry, the team behind Thousand Fell came together and used their expertise to create more sustainable sneakers.

That not only includes the materials that the brand uses, which range from sugar cane to recycled bottles, but also making sure that all of its designs are fully recyclable. When you buy shoes from Thousand Fell, it will take them back at any time and either refurbish them, give them to someone in need, or reuse the raw materials. The hope is that this circular economy stops any of its shoes from ending up in a landfill.

Flamingo's Life

You can never go wrong with a classic pair of retro sneakers, and that's especially true if you get them from Flamingo's Life.

The Spanish plant-based shoemaker has been on a mission since its launch in 2015 to be a vehicle for change and allow you to see the data that backs up its claims of sustainability. Together with BCOME, it compares the impact of its sneakers compared to a leather pair and shows it publicly. For example, a pair of the brand's Leonardo 02 sneakers in the "Pearl" colorway uses 58% less water and 40% fewer C02 emissions amongst much more.

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