I am often asked, “What is Eco-Friendly,” “What are Vegan Shoes,” “What makes green shoes “green”?” I’ve sourced it to 5 Things that make Eco Friendly Shoes: Materials, Manufacturing, Social Responsibility, Design and Consciousness.
Eco friendly shoes differ greatly in content. Vegan shoes are animal-free, meaning all materials used contain no animal byproducts. Most vegan shoes have a synthetic microfiber which looks like leather. Cruelty-free uses animal byproducts such as wool, alpaca and cashmere that are harvested in a human manner. Eco Friendly designers use materials from organic plants, like bamboo, hemp, cork, organic cotton, silk, sasawashi, that are grown in pesticide-free environments. Recycled content such as carpet padding, clothes, plastic, and rubber are also creatively used to produce eco friendly shoes. As seen here, designer, Arti Upadhyay, has used all vegan materials for her Neuaura Shoes Shiner shoe.
If you haven’t heard of Melissa Shoes, I have no doubt you soon will. Melissa Shoes is another innovative company using recycled plastic and some really neat technology. I will be featuring some of their amazing shoes in future posts.
The manufacturing process is probably the most important element that differentiates “eco friendly shoes.” The use of non toxic chemicals and solvent free adhesives alleviate strains on the environment. Some facilities are even powered by solar or wind energy. Many implement conservation and waste reduction practices that are put in place and as part of the work culture. Designers featured in Eco Shoe Source posts take proactive steps to minimize the impact on the environment during the all phases of shoe production. Eco friendly designers are impacting local communities in developing countries by providing opportunities for fair living wages and decent working conditions. Neuaura Shoes are manufactured in a factory in Brazil that received the Green Seal in 2008 in recognition for its compliance with Brazilian environmental laws.
3. Social Responsibility
I’m sure it’s hard for us to fathom that some would pose as caring about the environment purely for profitable reasons. What I’ve found is social responsibility is what compels many eco shoe designers to Go Green. You will be impressed by their commitment to sustainable practices from conception to production. Kailia Footwear is an eco friendly company that has successfully merged the concepts of eco, ethical and social responsibility as part of its operations and core mission. Charmone, Neuaura, Melissa and Kailia and their Do-Ni line are just some designers that donate to some of the same organizations that we support to either protect animals, the environment and/or women’s issues.
One of the most impressive aspects that we eco fashionistas expect is exceptional styling of shoes. It’s often the aesthetic that appeals to us first. Going Green doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style, selections or comfort. Often when I tell people I’m wearing eco shoes, they’re amazed!
“Whaaat! Those are eco,” is often the refrain. Celebrities are joining the field of eco designers as eco friendly shoes become more mainstream. Most notably is the success of Stella McCartney and recently Natalie Portman’s collaboration with Te Casan. We welcome them to the movement and the publicity they bring. Chunky heels, boots, platforms, strappy sandals, flats, pumps, peep toe–there’s a style for every taste.
The beauty of the Eco fashion and Go Green! movement is there are differing shades of green. If you rather buy eco friendly shoes than recycle, that’s a valuable contribution to the environment and perfectly acceptable. As you see, the efforts that goes into bringing eco friendly shoes to market is quite prodigious.
Yes, the shoe industry as a whole still has some work to do, but we all do. The great news is that there are many emerging eco friendly designers offering fashionable eco friendly options. Going Green is attainable for all and any effort is valuable. The point is to DO SOMETHING. Since I started Eco Shoe Source, I learn more everyday and am encouraged by the challenge to help make the world we live in better place.