Have you heard of eco friendly sandals?
A footwear’s last stage in its product cycle is for it to be disposed of, contributing to piling landfills and an increment in environmental waste.
With this in mind, there are eco friendly options for footwear so you can keep your tootsies comfy AND look after Mother Earth!
So, let’s talk about environmentally friendly footwear
Unfortunately, not many of us are aware of the impact a shoe or any type of footwear will leave on our environment.
In today’s age, where the fashion industry is booming and one person owns multiple pairs of shoes, this becomes a serious problem.
Although it is unavoidable that we may need multiple pairs of footwear for multiple occasions, we can still contribute to reducing environmental waste by opting for sustainable footwear.
What Are Eco Friendly Sandals?
Eco-friendly sandals are quality and durable sandals that are made of sustainable materials.
This refers to materials that are:
- natural in its source,
- recycled materials, and
- materials that are biodegradable.
These environmentally friendly sandals avoid materials such as plastic, especially Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) which is a very harmful plastic to the environment.
If you did not know already, PVC is known as the poison plastic.
This is because PVC’s production and disposal releases chlorine-based chemicals which end up not only polluting the water and air around us but it also damages our physical health as well.
In the long term, these toxins can cause chronic health issues, such as cancer, immune system damage and respiratory illness.
Besides the materials used in producing shoes and sandals, the manufacturing process itself does a great amount of harm to the environment. Machinery used in the production process is powered by fossil fuels which then emit greenhouse gases.
Yes, this translates to your shoes being the cause of global warming and climate change. That’s how big of an impact your footwear consumption can cause.
Production of sandals by using materials such as coal and plastic produces carbon dioxide.
Your consumption of these sandals have several negative impacts:
- Increases your carbon footprint.
- Contributes to greenhouse effect which heats up our planet eventually causing,
- Climate Change and,
- Extinction of flora and faunas.
Now that we are aware of the bigger picture, we should really start being mindful of what we wear on our feet.
Besides sustainability, production ethics should be given some weightage.
Ethical sandals are sandals that are not only made up of sustainable material but are mindful of the welfare of employees in the production line.
Ethical sandals in this context translate to fair trade sandals which means that companies producing these sandals are transparent about who their labours are (producers in developing countries) and if they are being paid fair wages to reduce poverty.
This is something to consider when purchasing environmentally friendly sandals because not all brands are committed to paying their artisans equitable wages for their hard work.
If these brands are:
- transparent about paying their manufacturers,
- providing other benefits like health care, and
- providing education
It would be beneficial for you to purchase their product knowing that you are indirectly investing in someone’s well being.
Unfortunately, due to capitalism, not all brands are doing their best in prioritizing being ethical and sustainable to ensure societal welfare.
Footwear being sustainable and ethical has also become a massive fashion trend in the recent years.
By 2030, it is predicted that the industry’s water consumption will grow by 50 percent to 118 billion cubic meters and its carbon footprint will increase to 2,791 million tons and the amount of waste it creates will hit 148 million tons.
The fashion industry is coming to realise that sustainable footwear is not only good for you but also looks good on you. Therefore, more brands are increasing their efforts in producing environmental friendly footwear.
However, even if the fashion industry tries its best to produce environmentally friendly footwear, the problem of increasing waste on landfills and oceans will still exist if consumers are not purchasing and using these sustainable products.
This could be due to the lack in consumer education and also lack of awareness in accessibility to these eco friendly footwear.
Throughout this article, we try to educate readers on the impacts of using sustainable sandals and also where you can purchase them.
List Of Places To Buy Eco-Friendly Sandals
Through our purchases, we can make a positive difference in the world we live in.
We can not only help in sustaining our planet but contribute to the people who make the sandals we wear daily.
Below is a list of sandals that range in different styles and price points that you should invest in to bring value to others while protecting our planet.
Rawqanique’s sandals are composed of 100% organic hemp uppers, linen and organic cotton. They are leather-free, animal-friendly and also vegan.
There are no BPA, PVC, heavy metals, formaldehyde, disperse dyes, or glues used to make their sandals.
Besides that, they also incorporate fair trade by making sure that all their products are handmade at Rawganique Atelier in Europe by long-term shoe artisans.
This brand also chooses to use natural rubber sole instead of synthetic ones, saving our planet from further damage.
This is a handmade eco friendly sandals UK brand that has been around since 1981, hence the name Green Shoes.
Although this brand has been around for many years, they are a small team based in Devon that produces various types of footwear on a small scale.
Their philosophy revolves around having a small and dedicated team to make your footwear so that it lasts a long time and therefore save the environment from an increment in waste due to the disposal of footwear.
The materials used to manufacture their shoes are ethical leather, making all their products cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.
El Naturalista is a Spanish brand based in La Rioja that places importance on natural materials used in their production.
They also produce recycled sandals for sale.
It is sustainable because the materials made to design their footwear, including sandals are biodegradable.
They believe in using renewable resources to manufacture their products. Besides being environmentally friendly, they ensure their sandals are of quality and comfort.
This brand has been established for more than 20 years. That’s 20 years of positive environmental practices from a shoe company!
Are Flip Flops Biodegradable?
Synthetic rubber is often used in producing flip flops which eventually harms the environment due to the soot and carbon release from the rubber hardening process.
Besides synthetic rubber, the main material used in manufacturing flip flops is plastic.
As explained in this article, plastics are not decomposable.
Therefore, the answer is no.
Flip flops are not a type of biodegradable sandals and its usage will further increase environmental waste.
Here are some facts you must know about these non-biodegradable sandals:
- Over 3 billion people in a year purchase flip flops, wear them till they are worn out and then discard them.
- Flip flops keep piling up in landfills and also are thrown into the ocean. This is a serious threat to marine wildlife.
- Flip flops became a popular type of footwear after World War 2 when the American soldiers brought back Japanese sandals called ‘zori' to their nation.
- Flip flops are often treated as casual footwear. However, this casualness is contributing to a massive ecological disaster that many of us are blindsided about.
People living in developing countries sometimes have no choice and say in their footwear as footwear can be expensive. Flip flops are durable, inexpensive footwear to manufacture and purchase for daily use by citizens of developing countries.
It is understandable that flip flops are one of the most convenient and affordable footwear in the global market but it does not change the fact that it is hazardous to our planet.
For many years, there has been no solution to this problem.
However, there are a couple of ways you can play your part in preventing more waste resulting from the disposing of flip flops.
- The first way is to repair broken flip flops and not just toss them into the trash. Yes, it may be cheap and accessible to get a new pair of flip flops, but for every flip flop bought, there is a potential increment of waste on our planet.
- Your second option is to purchase biodegradable flip flops.
What are biodegradable flip flops made of? They are made of various materials, including papyrus, palm leaves, wood, rice straw and natural rubber (more widely used to manufacture biodegradable flip flops).
Here are a few online options that you can consider to purchase flip flops which are biodegradable:
These sustainable walking sandals are manufactured by Indonesian craftisans making it not only sustainable but also a thoughtful purchase that will contribute to the welfare of these artisans.
The flip flops are made out of recycled tire outsoles, natural rubber and fibre straps. They come in five colours for you to choose from.
These 100% earth friendly sandals are handmade by people in Sri Lankan communities.
They are not only biodegradable but also vegan and completely recyclable. They are comfortable for daily use and for the beach!
Original Cork Shop’s flip flops are made out of 100% cork.
This footwear brand emphasises on local resources, fair trade, and cruelty-free products.
Everything is 100% sourced and made in Portugal, where the majority of the world’s cork trees are, therefore making it as sustainable as possible.
Are Birkenstock Eco Friendly?
The answer to this question is yes.
But what is Birkenstock?
Birkenstock is a footwear company based in Germany since 1774. Their footwear is extremely popular in the U.S. This is because it is a brand that is environmentally conscious without compromising quality.
Natural materials that this brand uses are from sustainable sources, such as:
- natural latex,
- wool felt,
- copper and,
- brass are among some of the materials they use.
All their products are cruelty-free and vegan.
One of their most important and widely used materials is raw cork, which is a natural and sustainable resource that is suitable to be used to produce footwear.
This is because of its properties that are cushioning, elastic, heat resistant and has sound insulation. Cork is harvested without harming the tree.
Birkenstock’s product life cycle tells us that this brand is giving their all in producing products that are environmentally sustainable throughout every step in their manufacturing process.
In the raw material acquisition process, they make sure that their materials are natural and decomposable, such as cork, organic latex, natural leather and jute.
This is important as these materials are the core of their footwear and therefore should not be taken lightly as it may be responsible for unwanted waste and emissions.
Birkenstock has great waste management!
They adhere to Germany’s waste laws, whereby the government imposes responsibility on the manufacturer for waste avoidance, waste recovery and environmentally compatible products.
As for distribution and transportation, Birkenstock ensures that their products are packaged in an environmentally friendly manner. 90% of the materials of the boxes they use to ship and deliver products are made out of recycled paper.
Once worn out, the soles of the shoes of Birkenstock’s footwear can be replaced by new ones, making their footwear functional for a very long time. The worn out sole is recycled to minimise waste from disposing of footwear.
To wrap it up, it is important for us to be aware that we have the option to use eco friendly sandals.
The footwear we own and use daily does make a significant impact on not only the environment but people whose jobs are associated with this industry..
We use footwear to protect our feet from getting hurt but end up hurting the planet that we live on.
Together, we can make a difference to sustain our planet for the future generations to live on. It all starts with you in choosing the right pair of sandals, so be mindful.