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What To Look For When Purchasing Ethical Footwear

A lot of shoes, particularly sneakers, are created with unsustainable practices using toxic chemicals during their production. On top of this, they are often made from synthetic materials that don’t biodegrade when the shoes inevitably end up in landfills. There’s no question that the fashion and footwear industries produce an inordinate amount of waste and harm to the environment, but what can we do about it?

Just as there are companies that continue to exacerbate the problems, there are also those that are seeking innovative solutions — and it’s up to us to support them. Reduce your eco-logical footprint by purchasing sustainable sneakers made with organic and biodegradable materials and be sure to wear them as much as possible. While many companies are taking a stand for sustainability, we need to choose wisely as consumers to help make the world a safer and better place!

Shop for Versatility

When you’re buying a pair of shoes, make sure that they are a good investment that you will be able to wear over and over again on many different occasions. If you can’t foresee wearing the shoes at least 50 times, then you should pass on buying them. Shoes that are neutral in color, versatile in design, and made of durable materials will last the longest. By wearing your shoes for longer, you reduce waste and save money.

Do Your Research

Before you head into a store, it’s a great idea to research eco-friendly sneaker brands and seek them out specifically in stores that care about sustainability. By walking in blindly to a store without doing prior research, it is going to be harder to find sustainable shoes and there might not be any. 

While many sustainable brands state their vision and purpose on the tags and marketing of their shoes, some do not. If you are in a store and wondering if a shoe brand is sustainable, you can always check an app like Good On You, which gives a rating for the brand based on sustainability.

Look for Specific Materials

When you look at the tag of a pair of sneakers, look for natural fabrics that you recognize, like organic cotton, vegetable tanned leather, hemp, wool, Tencel, or Piñatex (made of pineapple leaves). The harvesting of these renewable materials won’t deplete the Earth. Shoes made using recycled materials, like discarded plastic bottles are another sustainable choice.

Anything that is synthetic, like polyester, polyurethane, polyethylene, EVA foam, and Neoprene requires a large amount of energy expenditure and chemical processes to produce. They also will not biodegrade, so will contribute to the growth of landfills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, landfills are the third-largest cause of U.S. human-related methane emissions.

Check the Certifications

A quick check on the tag of your shoes for specific certifications can reveal a lot about the quality and sustainability behind the brand. Certifications like the Global Organic Textile Standard for organic cotton sneakers signify that the shoes have been made with sustainable materials. Other popular certifying bodies are the World Fair Trade Organization, Organic Crop Improvement Association, the Leather Working Group, Global Recycled Standard, and BlueSign.

Shop Local and Bring Your Own Bag

Finally, where possible, shop locally in your town. This will not only save on the costs and energy expended in shipping the products, but will also support local businesses rather than large corporations. Instead of using packaging, you can bring your own bag to carry your shoes in. While it seems like a small thing, by changing your long-term habits to be more sustainable, you can make the world a better place for all of us.

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