5 Ways to Know You’re Buying an Earth-Friendly Shoe

pikolinos sandal veg tanned
When you buy something through our retail links, we may earn commission and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

We’re used to checking food labels and beauty products for natural, healthy ingredients. But what about your shoes? The goals of sustainable fashion and clean living certainly extends to your feet. Footwear News breaks down shoes that are as fabulous for the planet as they are for your personal style.

From Footwear News:
As Earth Day rolls around on the calendar, it is an annual reminder to look for ways to protect the planet. But the question always remains: What’s the best way to make a difference?

For consumers, one important way is with your wallet — by buying products that are made using eco-friendly materials and techniques.

When shopping online, it’s easy to identify sustainable footwear, since e-tailers typically provide detailed descriptions about the products. In stores, though, it can be more challenging, but knowledgeable salespeople can help. And many brands will advertise their earth-friendliness on their shoe boxes or with hang-tags on the shoes themselves.

Below are 5 things to look for if you want to buy an environmentally conscious shoe:

1. Vegetable-tanned leathers
These are leathers that have been processed using tannins from natural vegetable materials, such as barks, leaves or fruit. This ancient technique has been adopted as an alternative to the widespread chrome-tanning technique, which utilizes chromium sulfate, a reportedly carcinogenic substance.

Bed Stu

2. Water-Based Glues
These adhesives, often used to bind the sole and upper of the shoe, typically are low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds, or in layman’s terms, toxic chemicals) and are formaldehyde-free. But water-based glues are made from a range of substances, including animal bones and hides, so for vegans who want to avoid glues altogether, look for shoes that are welted or 100 percent stitched.

3. Renewable Cork
The material, found on wedges and footbed sandals, is made from cork oaks that grow in countries like Spain, Portugal and Morocco. During harvesting, farmers don’t cut down the trees, but simply remove the bark, making it a fairly sustainable process. In fact, a cork tree could live up to 300 years and be harvested every nine years.

Vaneli

4. Natural Latex
While your first image of latex is probably anything but natural (doctors’ gloves, perhaps?), it is actually a milky substance produced by numerous plants, including rubber trees. The fluid, once tapped from the tree, is processed to make all number of items, including rubber flip-flops.

Gurus

5. Recycled Tires
More and more outsoles of shoes are being made with recycled tire rubber. In many cases, the recycled bits make up only about 5 percent of the finished product, but Austin Rubber in Texas has developed a technique that uses a larger percentage. Look for those soles on its own Tredagain footwear and on other brands.

This article is being republished with the permission of Footwear News. To read the original version, click here. If you buy something because we told you about it, we may receive compensation from retail partners.