Eco-Friendly Shoes

5811660807_f7f7f93782_nNovember 1st, 2013

Shoe shopping can be addictive. Really. Just ask Imelda Marcos. This footwear fury can take a toll on our environment so it is important to check out the company before splurging on a shoe that will make your “sole” feel less like Cinderella’s and more like her evil stepmother’s.

Here are three great shoe companies that will lead you to style, adventure, and sustainability.

Ocean Minded:
That is the mantra for this eco-friendly footwear company which has created a brand basedon southern California beach culture and a passion for ocean conservation. Created in 1996 in San Clemente and later acquired by Crocs, Ocean Minded has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to their quality products and prominent brand ambassadors.

Their footwear, apparel, and accessories are designed in southern California and incorporate the comfortable, stylish lifestyle of SoCal beach cities. They also integrate surfing culture into that style and many of their brand ambassadors are well-known surfers who assist in product development and marketing strategies.

The company uses sustainable materials for their shoes like bamboo, cork, and even recycled plastic bottles. Some of their products are also labeled “vegan choice,” which means none of the materials used in production came from animals.

The company has been active in beach and ocean conservation through their support of the Surfrider Foundation, organizing worldwide beach and reef cleanups, and printing their catalogs on post-consumer recycled paper using soy based inks.

Kigo Footwear:
Kigo, a Green America certified business, makes stylish, minimalist footwear with minimal impacts on the environment. The staff works remotely, conducting all day-to-day business online to avoid using paper products and travel. Kigo has adopted a waste-free lifespan philosophy and rewards customers who recycle or upcycle their shoes through one of their partners by offering a 25% discount on their next pair. One of those partners is Soles4Souls, a non-profit that donates shoes to victims of disaster and poverty.

Their shoes are created through materials like CYCLEPET, an eco-friendly fabric that is made through the breakdown of recycled plastics bottles. The production process through using things like CYCLEPET creates less wasting of water, fuel, electricity, and fewer CO2 emissions. Kigo also ships by water instead of air and wraps shoes in tissue paper rather than plastic.

Kigo’s eco-friendly philosophy is not the only unique thing about them. Kigo’s lightweight designs are meant to mimic the natural shape of the foot to allow for wonderful support and comfort. They also concentrate on the outsole to allow for great traction and flexibility for active lifestyles.

If you are the adventurous type and know the value of a great pair of hiking boots, check out Merrel. In 1981 Backpacker magazine named founder Randy Merrel’s boots “the most comfortable and functional boots in North America. Merrel has grown since then to include all types of shoes but has retained the original commitment to quality. These superior shoes are trekking to new heights with satisfied customers everywhere who are seeking shoes to match their adventurous soles.

Merrel has inspired more than just mountain climbing. Their commitment to sustainability is just as strong as the traction on the bottom of their footwear. According to their website, they have been one of the largest purchasers of renewable energy in the state of Michigan. Their one-piece shoe boxes are made from recycled materials, shoe stuffers are made from recycled egg crates, they use green cleaning technology whenever possible, and their shipping cartons are made from recycled content. In addition, the company 4900276735_3b080a3cdf_nsponsors biannual electronic recycling drives, plants wildflowers, and also donates to Soles4Souls.

These shoes were definitely made for walking. Grab your hiking stick, backpack, or favorite jeans and hit the road in these eco-friendly shoes!

-Monica Bologna


Photo Credit: Flickr/Ömer Ünlü/Natashi Jay

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