Sustainable products can be found more and more often in everyday life. For many people it is now particularly important to live sustainably. But what does it actually look like in the shoe closet? Sustainable shoes are more difficult to find than other products because shoes usually contain different materials and are therefore more difficult to recycle. In addition, kicks often contain substances that are harmful to health. We present models that you can buy with a clear conscience.

But first the question arises: When are shoes actually sustainable? When it comes to sustainable fashion, it is important not to support quick and cheap production. Such products are usually of poor quality, do not last long and, in the worst case, can contain harmful substances due to poor production.

Shoes that are made from either natural and/or recycled components are therefore particularly suitable. Vegan models, most of which are made from apples, cork, paper or other natural sources, are particularly recommended. Organic cotton, canvas or linen are also considered sustainable and are comfortable to wear. If the chosen kick also has a sole made of rubber, it is a truly sustainable shoe.

But: Even if the production of vegan shoes uses significantly less water than, for example, the production of leather shoes, they are not automatically sustainable. If the shoes of choice are made of plastic, petroleum was most likely used in their production – which is not exactly good for the environment. You should avoid such materials when purchasing.

At best, sustainable shoes were also produced fairly. This means: farmers, seamstresses and employees work in safe conditions and are paid appropriately. There is no child labor or harmful substances in such production. By purchasing fairly produced, sustainable shoes, you support these good working conditions.

Sustainable shoes do not use chemically tanned leather. Because chromium salts are often used to make leather shoes, which in the worst case can have a carcinogenic and mutagenic effect. Sustainable shoes do not necessarily have to do without leather and necessarily be vegan – even if that is a particularly good option. It is important that the leather is tanned with natural plant substances such as rhubarb roots or oak bark. If the leather is carefully processed and the shoes are produced under fair conditions, they usually last a long time and can therefore be sustainable. Leather is robust and can be worn for years with good care.

Negative: The water consumption in the production of leather shoes is usually extremely high. An example: For one kilogram of leather, around 16,600 liters of water are required, among other things for keeping the animals. If you really want to use leather shoes, you can at least make sure that the leather is certified by the Leather Working Group and therefore comes from animals whose husbandry requires certain standards, such as local feed. In addition, the sole of leather shoes should be made of rubber, not plastic.

And another tip: Buying second-hand shoes is also sustainable, because worn shoes are not thrown away, but are effectively reused.

Sustainable shoes and a sense of style are not mutually exclusive. When buying, make sure that the quality is high and that the shoes will last as long as possible. The following models are sustainable and can be purchased with a clear conscience.

When you buy shoes from Veja, you can be sure that they are sustainable. The French shoe label uses sustainable leather and vegan alternatives for its models: the label uses recycled plastic bottles, corn leather or organic cotton. No chrome, heavy metals or acids are used in the tanning of the sneakers.

When you buy Think! shoes, you can also be sure that you are choosing a model that is better for the environment than many other models. Because: They are made in Europe, consist primarily of vegetable-tanned leather and you can also take advantage of the repair service so that your kicks can be worn for as long as possible. Plus: The boots etc. are recyclable and therefore particularly sustainable.

The Ethletic brand offers fair, vegan and sustainable sneakers – which are also very fashionable. Only natural materials are used in shoe production in Pakistan: such as organic cotton and FSC rubber. The shoes are of high quality and therefore durable.

The Allbirds label also specializes in sustainable shoes. Anyone who followed Fashion Week 2023 will certainly have come across one or two models. Allbirds shoes are particularly trend-oriented and are also more environmentally friendly than other brands.

In addition, these brands, among others, offer sustainable shoes:

Well-known labels such as Adidas now also produce sustainable shoes. When purchasing, pay attention to the materials the model you choose is made of and that it is well made. If you buy your new kicks online, you can usually determine from the search that the shoes should be sustainable. Many online retailers now also point this out.

By the way: With a voucher from Otto you can also save money when buying sustainable shoes.

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