I took “no heels or hardpants post-pandemic” seriously. Since becoming a “sneaker head” in my 40’s, I tried out dozens. Then, specifically sought out more sustainable options. I didn’t even know that shoes could be so toxic they needed a recall. So they’re better for you and the planet! Happy to have switched a little over a year ago, trying out dozens. I’ve been rocking my new sustainable sneakers for over a year now – and have updated recommendations based on that year of wear tests! I’m finally ready to reveal my top sustainable sneakers after wear tests… *drumroll*
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I’ve added most of them to my Amazon Fashion Favorites here.
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 UPDATED Top Sustainable Sneakers
(1) OnRunning’s CloudSwift – Most Comfortable for (any) Activity
Sadly, I never tried the CloudSwift in my original try on. Fortunately, a few weeks later I found myself in a ComfortOne shoes perusing sustainable options. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the appearance, the sales associated suggested (insisted) I try them on. BLESS HIS HEART, y’all. No, seriously – I’m so grateful because I LOVE these shoes. They’re incredibly supportive, but somehow super light weight. I truly do feel like I’m walking on clouds! I’ve worn them so often and they’re still holding up beautifully. In fact, I love them so much I got a 2nd pair in more neutral colors, too.
See all On shoes here.
The best part: they slip on. They’re like the old New Balance ones I loved, but with more support so much better for the earth!
Sustainability: On uses recycled materials. 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.
(2) Cariuma Catiba Pro – “I’m not like a *regular* mom, I’m a *cool* mom” Shoe
I may have purchased nearly a dozen pair of Cariuma’s. I’ve now tried every cut (except the one on my wishlist) and can proclaim the Salvas to be the far superior shoe. Followed closely by the Catiba Pro. Both have a wide toe box and just look cool! With no-show socks these are perfect year round. I’ve worn them with jeans, joggers, and leggings as well as summer dresses and a suit for a professional photo shoot!
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. I love that they come tied loosely for me, so that I can simply slide my foot in. 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.
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.
(3) VEJA Recife Chromefree – Best for Casual Wear
Maintaining the no. 3 spot is Veja! I wore the ones in my original review quite a few times and the Alovomesh pair I had held up nicely – in fact I was able to consign them at TheRealReal for even more sustainability once I realized they weren’t being worn anymore. I found that I just always reached for my Cariumas or OnRunnings when I would be walking a lot, and then for more casual fun wear these bright pink ones stole my heart!
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.
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. I originally chose choose cloth over leather, but with these socks in the more supple leather (vs. stiffer suede) I found they didn’t need to be broken in.
(4) NothingNew Women’s Wave – the coolest fashionable slip ons
I wish I would have known about NothingNew for the last review! One of you awesome community members shared about it after I published my article last year and I immediately got myself a pair. The lace-free slip ons are so comfortable that I wear them without any socks! And, kiddo was such a fan that they asked for a pair, too. The style we like is similar to Converse, and they have a Vans-like version on my wishlist, too. They come in distressed options to bright whites and every color in between. I got myself a high-top pair as well but found I never reached for them. While the slip ons are my go-to for running kids to and from activities (because they feel cool enough to meet teen standards).
The first step is the hardest. No one ever intended for there to be so much plastic waste in the world. Made from 100% sustainable materials, Nothing New aims to leave the world better than they found it by focusing on making products that both look good and do good. Clean lines, vibrant colors, and luxury quality built with sustainable materials. It wasn’t an easy goal, but after countless prototypes, Nothing New was born. Sustainable products. Sustainable practices. Carbon neutral shipment & delivery arrives in recycled packaging.
We want to positively impact our community, our industry, and our planet. By helping develop best-in-class sustainable products and investing in programs to minimize our environmental footprint, we hope to raise the bar for what customers expect from brands and contribute to the change we want to see in the world. We want to leave the world better than we found it, create products people love, and foster the development of sustainable solutions. We hope this is just the beginning.
(5) Soludos, Ibiza Classic Lace-up Leather – Dress it up & Fashionable AF
Soludos makes the most adorable sneakers but also sandals and espadrilles! These have made awesome “dress up” sneakers for me – yes, I wore them with a ball gown! I meant it when I said no heels, y’all! I find them a bit narrow in the toe box for me, so while they make a fantastic alternative to heels, they’re not something comfortable enough for me to wear all day.
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.
What’s next on my wishlist?
I’m essentially wanting to try to colors and styles from the top brands! Top of list is another pair of OnRunnings – yep, another. I often wear black leggings or black in general, so a black pair will round out my need nicely. I want a pair of pastel lace-up Vejas, the Van-esque and rose gold platform sneakers from NothingNew, and probably will be in my closet before summer is the softer Ibi slip-ons from Cariuma (I tried the classic and pro and they were too stiff for my liking).
Read More: If you want to see my original research, including all the sustainability details, you can find my original Sustainable Sneaker Showdown HERE. You’ll notice that Veja and Cariuma are repeats, while the ECOALF, Prinalf Sneakers I had rated top choice disappeared completely. These did not hold up well – in fact after a few days at Disney they looked so messy I never wore them again! 🙁
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 – because I’m not a big fan of theirs. But I own 15 pairs of Rothy’s flats from my days in corporate America! You can get $20 with my referral link here.
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 Top Sustainable Sneakers?
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