An estimated 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown away each year in the U.S., with sneakers accounting for the largest share. It takes 30 to 40 years for just one pair to decompose, and because the majority of sneakers are made out of synthetic plastics, they emit toxic gases while sitting in landfills that pollute the air we all breathe.
So how can we work together to curb this problem? Get informed (look at you, you’re already there!), and recycle when you can — some brands make it easy. And, of course, shop for smarter, more sustainable sneakers.
When you do need new kicks, buy better ones with these picks that step up your style and eco-friendliness at the same time.
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ThousandFell Lace Up
Why It’s Cool: Three words: 100% recyclable sneakers. Oh, and they’re super-sleek (look like leather but totally vegan), stain-proof, water-resistant, and feel like you’re walking on yoga mats (because you are; recycled ones, naturally).
$120 ($20 goes towards your next pair if you recycle these later)
Cariuma OCA Low
Why It’s Cool: A ‘go with everything’ classic style, premium natural materials (organic cotton, rubber, and cork), super-comfy memory foam insoles, and for every pair purchased, two trees are planted in the Brazilian rainforest.
Why It’s Cool: This tres chic French brand builds its own supply chain, so every stage of production has a positive impact on the planet and its people. And if they’re good enough for Kate Middleton, well…
Allbirds Tree Runners
Why It’s Cool: The lightweight eucalyptus fiber fabric is totally breathable (no sweaty, smelly feet here), and the castor oil-based foam insole is like walking on a cloud. And that merino wool heel lining? See you never, blisters.
Why It’s Cool: A major fashion house changing its mindset and practices is a big step for the industry. Chloe has shifted its sourcing and supply chain to more Earth-friendly practices, and these sustainable sneakers, crafted from 40% recycled materials, embody that.