Sneakers are all the rage footwear not just for casual occasions but also for the modern workplace. However, they create a significant environmental footprint, given the rigorous process used to produce them. The production process involves a complex blend of up to 80 components, including leather, plastic, cotton and rubber. All these components have to be shipped from different parts of the world, adding to high levels of carbon emissions. Leather, being the main component, produces toxic gases during the tanning process.
Over the years, consumers have become increasingly eco-conscious, opting for brands that produce eco-friendly sneakers. Several brands have taken to the production of vegan footwear, including renowned brands like Nike or Adidas. This small guide explains features that users should look for when buying vegan sneaker and popular brands offering this type of footwear.
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What to Look for When Buying Eco-friendly Sneakers
It’s easy to identify sustainable footwear when shopping online as e-tailors provide the details on the description. This is not the case when buying from a mall or shoe store. Here are some features to guide you:
• Shoe symbols: Stickers engraved at the bottom of the shoe explain whether the shoe is eco-friendly or not. Manufacturers use pictograms for shoes made of leather and coated materials, and those made of textile and other materials. Choose the latter.
• Veg-tanned leathers: It is an alternative to the chrome-tanning technique as the tannins are made from vegetable materials like leaves, barks and fruit.
• Recycled tires: Soles made from recycled tires qualify as eco-friendly footwear. Tredagain footwear is an excellent example.
Brands Selling Eco-friendly Sneakers
This brand has been operating for more than a decade in the exclusive production of eco-friendly shoes. Veja gets its organic cotton from Brazil and Peru. It launched its first eco-friendly sneaker in 2014. The “Campo” sneaker was made from canvas that had been waxed using a compound sourced from corn waste. The project aimed to produce a leather-like vegan sneaker and prove that brands can indeed create eco-friendly footwear. Veja sneakers are also easy to find, they are available in leading footwear and online stores like Luisaviaroma for example.
The company has made a name for itself over the five-year period it has been in operation. Allbirds Runner started with runner and a loafer made of merino wool. Then it launched a summer version of the sneaker made using breathable eucalyptus fibers. These were the first shoes to be approved by the Forest Stewardship Council. Allbirds was also the forerunner of foam sole made of sourced sugar instead of fossil fuels. Other brands have taken to this trend. The company is so committed to sustainability programs that it taxes itself for each kilogram of carbon emitted. The money collected is put in a Carbon Fund that is invested in air purification and tree planting.
Tretorn is a Swedish company that produces outwear using sustainable products. Tretorn jackets, for example, are made using discarded fishnets. The company is set to launch a sneaker range with the suede uppers made entirely of eco-friendly components. The premise is to reduce the amount of water required during production and encouraging the use of sustainable elements.These are just three of the many sustainable brands available on the market today. Companies are very committed to offering a green and environmentally-friendly product to customers that are more and more aware of the importance of preventing animal cruelty, reducing our carbon footprint, use of plastic and overall impact on the planet.
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