Sustainable Sneaker Showdown

When it comes to fashion, I’ve always been much more into accessorizing than the clothes themselves. It’s something we big girls learn when we’re young to compensate for the fact that cute plus size clothes are few and hard to find, especially back in ye-olden-days of my youth in the 1900’s (as my teens like to call it). But, these days we do have options – sustainable ones, too! If you, like me, aren’t familiar with eco-friendly shoe brands, let me introduce you to them in today’s Sustainable Sneaker Showdown!

I’ve added most of them to my Amazon Fashion Favorites here.

Pin this image so you can come back to it when you’re ready to shop

Note: Stacy’s shoe size is pretty solidly size 10. I do have one foot 1/4 size larger than the other, so with open toe shoes I can get away with 9 1/2 but more often find 10 or 10 1/2 if the shoe is more narrow or pointy toed. I do not have wide feet, but they are on the fuller size of “normal.” This converts to an 8 men’s or European 41. see a conversion chart here

Stacy’s Top 4

(1) ECOALF, Prinalf Sneakers – Best all around, exercise and cute

ASINB09MKNQLKN
Color: Fuchsia
Size: EU 41 (US Women’s 8.5)
Width: Medium
Price$115.00
See all ECOALF shoes here.

Sustainability: ECOALF provides sustainability statistics on their website, ratings vary from A-C+ based on how eco-friendly each individual shoes are. Main fabric: 100% Recycled nylon with 50% Recycled EVA insole and 50% Recycled rubber soles. Vegan.

Stacy’s notes

First of all, my fashionable 15yo told me that these were the “coolest” of all the shoes I tried and specifically told me to keep them. Fortunately, of all the sneakers I tried, these were the most substantial in terms of support and comfort, and are the ones I plan on wearing for the original purpose of this endeavor: shoes for Spring Break at Disneyland. While overall designs are limited, the color options are a nice range – from fun orange and fuchsia (that I got) to military green, grey, and simply black.

(2) Jibs, Mid-Rise Sneaker Bootie – Best Everyday Slip On

Asin: B091CPPMRN
Color: Space Gray
Size: Men’s 8, Women’s 10
Width: Medium
Price: $80
See all Jibs shoes here.

Sustainability: Jibs’ leather is up to 98% biodegradable, where typical leather is only 30% biodegradable. Not to mention the cork insole. Hand-made in Brazil with locally sourced materials from family owned businesses that care for quality + sustainability.

Stacy’s notes

Of all the shoes I tried and kept, these are the ones I’ve reached for the most. Imagine a pair of stylish mid-rise boots that are actually sneakers and feel like your favorite socks. They slip on like a classic pair of Keds, but are so, so much cooler. Another benefit: you wear them without socks. I love that they have a cork insole and the cut-outs make them super breathable, perfect for warmer weather without stinky feet! Jibs says their Mid Rise styles have a flexible feel, airy perforation, slip on ease – but in a hybrid bootie silhouette that brings comfort AND style to new levels. I completely agree!

If you have a more narrow foot, try the “slim” fit. If you have wider foot or a higher rise on the top of your foot, try the classics (the most affordable of their 3 style options). For me the “slim” is uncomfortably tight while my foot can slip out of the classic. For me, the mid-rise is the goldi-locks of shoes – just right.

I actually LOVE these so much I reached out to the brand, a small business – woot – and asked if they’d offer you a code. Delightfully, they said yes!  You’ll find more styles and color options on their site than any 3rd party retailer. I already bought myself 2 more pairs with the code! Use code REAL15 to save yourself 15% shopping with Jibs directly: wearejibs.com/discount/REAL15

(3) VEJA, V-12 – Best for Casual Wear

ASINB09LYPZ8KV
Color: Grafite/White
Size: 41 (US Women’s 10)
Width: Medium
Price: $140.00
See all Vejas here.
Sustainability: Vejas is one of the most committed sustainable brands listed. A certified B Corp, you can find completely transparent info on their website about the ethical contracting of organic cotton, fair trade direct work with product material producers, and have eliminated all hazardous chemicals from manufacturing process. They also upcycle where possible and their Alovomesh styles are made with 100% recycled polyester. They say:

Since 2005, VEJA has been creating sneakers in a different way, mixing social projects, economic justice, and ecological materials.

VEJA uses Brazilian and Peruvian organic cotton for the canvas and laces, Amazonian rubber for the soles, and various innovative materials conceived in recycled plastic bottles or recycled polyester.

VEJA sneakers are produced in high-standard factories in Brazil. Part of VEJA’s logistics is managed by Log’ins, a professional and social inclusion company.

Stacy’s notes

Perhaps the most well known of all sustainable sneakers, Veja offers seemingly endless styles. It seemed every review I read varied from “running large” to “running small”. Of the four pair I tried – all different materials, ran consistently true-to-size based on Euro sizing, perhaps that’s the confusion for people? Either way,  I anticipated liking the leather V-10s the best, but while they were the prettiest they were quite stiff. As was mentioned repeatedly in reviews, the one issue with this brand is that they have quite a significant “break in” period.

My two tips to avoid painful feet: 1) wear Bombas socks, specifically the performance socks with blister prevention padding, and 2) choose cloth over leather, I didn’t have any issues with these! I also love how durable the Alovomesh is and how much the color will lend to not showing dirt – I think this will just get better with age.

(4) Cariuma Catiba Pro – “I’m not like a *regular* mom, I’m a *cool* mom” Shoe

ASINB09LYPZ8KV
Color: Grafite/White
Size: 41 (US Women’s 10)
Width: Medium
Price: $140.00
Sustainability: Cariuma is also a certified B Corp with amazing sustainability practices. Not only do they use sustainable, eco-friendly materials, they also have a Reforestation Program that plants a diversity of trees to the founder’s homeland rainforest in Brazil. They say:

We knew the industry-standard “cool-classic” sneakers were really uncomfortable and that the big corporations weren’t socially responsible and didn’t really care about sustainability in an active way.

We also felt we had a duty to take a stance against the wasteful practices inherent in fast fashion. It was vital for us to reinvent the sneaker game.

That’s why our sneakers are good-looking, crazy comfy and consciously made. We knew we wanted to make future classics with an increased lifespan that evolve with you and your sense of style.

Stacy’s notes

Y’all, I’m not going to lie. 99% of my desire to wear these shoes is how cool they are. Made popular by the young crowd, influenced by Olympic athletes, these sneakers come in both canvas and leather styles. After researching I decided that the natural rubber sole with canvas and suede was what I wanted, and I have to say I am not disappointed with the vintage vibe. I love that they came tied loosely for me, so that I can simply slide my foot in. With no-show socks these will be perfect with summer dresses to elevate the style, or simply running errands.  They’ve been featured by every major publication for their eco-friendly ethics (including completely sustainable materials and Reforestation program). While they are the only shoe featured not available on Zappos or Amazon, it is worth supporting the brand directly!

You can get $30 off (and plant 30 trees) using a referral code – but it’s unique to your e-mail. So, if you want one, comment below, or on social, or e-mail Stacy@RealEverything.com and I’ll get you a referral link.

 

Other Winners

On, The Roger Advantage – Most Comfortable for Walking

ASINB08RXWBT2R
Color: White/Nimbus
Size: 10 (note they say Eu 42 is a 10, not sure why)
Width: Medium
Price: $139.95
See all On shoes here.
Sustainability: On used 100% recycled materials to create the Roger Advantage. CleanCloud is their new high-performance foam for running shoes, created using carbon emissions as a raw material. On received ISPO’s Award for Sustainability Achievement and Product of the Year in 2021. Stats include: 50% less CO2, 70% less energy to power their factories, and 90% less waste.

Stacy’s notes: I had to put on both the ECOALF and the Ons to really get a feel for which was better. These rank high comfort for me. But, they aren’t my favorite looking shoe. They are definitely the most comfortable for everyday walking. This style has a roomy toe box and felt a lot like the Nanos I used to love but with more cushioning and support. Note: they rise high on the achilles, I need to wear ankle socks and not just no-show socks to prevent rubbing and blisters.

Soludos, Ibiza Classic Lace-up Leather – Dress it up & Fashionable AF

ASINB084T6YXN9
Color: Platinum
Size: 10
Width: B – Medium
Price$: 128.94
See all Soludos shoes here.
Sustainability:  Soludos uses organic cotton, which has a lower energy demand. 75% of their leather and suede is chrome-free and certified silver or gold-rated by the Leather Working Group, which promotes responsible tanning practices, reduced energy and water consumption. REPREVE, an innovative sustainable fiber made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, is used to create knit fabric and shoelaces. In the year 2020, 20,000 bottles were recycled from their shoes using REPREVE. They also use jute and linen, more eco-friendly fibers. 75% of their Outsoles are produced using a combination of recycled or natural rubber, vegetable oils and fibers, oatmeal, sawdust, or algae – all better alternatives compared to synthetic options like PVA or EVA.

Stacy’s notes: Soludos makes the most adorable sneakers but also sandals and espadrilles! This, this, this and this on my wishlist). I almost made them a Top 5, but after wearing the leather lace-ups for a bit of time I found them a bit narrow in the toe. They’re going to be cute “dress up” sneakers for me – a better alternative to heels, but not something comfortable enough to wear all day.

BOBS from SKECHERS, B Cute Clean Life – Most Affordable

ASINB09BVD6BMV
Color: Red
Size: 10
Width: B – Medium
Price: $50.00
Sustainability: Designed with recycled, sustainable materials, this casual slip-on features a canvas upper made with 65% recycled cotton and 25% recycled polyester; lining and laces are made with 100% recycled polyester. Vegan.

Stacy’s notes: I actually thought I was going to keep these. Kiddo (15) told me they liked them, but every time I tried them on with something I kept reaching for a different shoe. Ultimately these have so many benefits – convenient slip on not withstanding, but I just personally didn’t fall in love. They are the most affordable and the brand supports animals – they are definitely worth the money if you like the style!

VEJA, Venturi – Toughest for Trails

ASINB09HN93HN9
Color: Grafite/Moonrock
Size: EU 41 (US Men’s 8)
Width: Medium
Price: $160.00
See all Vejas here.
Sustainability: listed above

Stacy’s notes: I really loved these but just don’t have a need for a more robust shoe. They are very supportive, high on the ankle! If you are looking for some work boots, trail shoes, or something to get dirty in – these are for you. I’m putting these on Matt’s Christmas list for working in the winter!

VEJA, V-10 – Most Fashionable

ASINB08PKJ8M74
Color: Suede Multicolor/Natural/Babe
Size: 41 (US Women’s 10)
Width: Medium
Price: $170.00
Stacy’s notes:
See all Vejas here.
Sustainability: listed above

Stacy’s notes: Oh, did I want to love these shoes. But, as was mentioned, the leather was stiff and didn’t feel nearly as comfortable to me as the Alovomesh V-10s shoes I chose. If you’re willing to have a “break in” period, go for it – they are super high quality.

Didn’t work for me:

SKYE, The Rbutus

ASINB08KLGF5YC
Color: Sakura Pink
Size: Men’s 9, Women’s 10.5
Width: Medium
Price: $90.00
See all SKYE sneakers here.

Stacy’s notes: Man, I was so disappointed that these didn’t work. They would be GREAT if you need good arch support. I don’t, so it felt intrusive in the shoe – especially because they only came in half sizes. I got a 41, which they said was a 10 1/2 but it was uncomfortably snug around the top of the foot and ankle. Though, I can see that being a benefit if you’re looking for a supportive shoe or perhaps if you’re a runner.

GREATS, Devoe W

ASINB08JGDFZFJ
Color: Blush/White
Size: 10
Width: Medium
Price: $115.19
See all Greats shoes here.

Stacy’s notes: These were super plush leather in an eye catching design. They run large but are narrow in the toe box – so for me they were loose on the ankle and tight in the toe, just didn’t work – as cute as they were. They had the thickest tongue and most supple leather of all the shoes I tried.

Veja, Condor 2 Alveomesh

ASINB08T1ZHXFV
Color: Black/White
Size: EU 41 (US Men’s 8)
Width: Medium
Price: $106.29
See all Vejas here.
Sustainability: listed above

Stacy’s notes: These shoes compare to traditional sneakers, like the New Balance I used to wear. I really thought they’d be what I kept, as I got them on sale and several people told me they have and love them. The problem I had while wearing them around the house was that they were stiffer than the other 2 similar pairs (ECOALF and On Roger Advantage). I could tell that I would need to “break them in” even with significant padded ankle socks, and frankly I’m buying these kind of sneakers for comfort so I decided it wasn’t for me. They were incredibly supportive and cushioned, so if you want to take the time to break them in and love the look – go for it.

Looking for more sustainable shoes?

For business purposes, I LOVE Rothy’s! Specifically their Driver is my go-to shoe for nearly everything. These sneakers I kept (the top 4) have me branching out of my comfort zone into (hopefully, cool) mom zone – but I own 15 pairs of Rothy’s from my days in corporate America!

Brands on my wishlist that weren’t easily available via my extra-large Zappos order:

Need socks?

I HIGHLY recommend Bombas – I wore either the no-show non-slip or performance ankle socks for all of these reviews. You can get 20% off with code WHOLEVIEW when shopping bombas.com/wholeview

 

I’m curious, which shoes are you most interested in from the Sustainable Sneaker Showdown?

 

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