Eco sneakers: Step into ethical footwear

The movement for sustainable eco-fashion has seen a huge increase recently, and we are now seeing this gradual expansion into our daily clothing place its focus on our footwear choices

Katherine Rawlings
13th February 2018
Instagram: @veja

The movement for sustainable eco-fashion has seen a huge increase recently, and we are now seeing this gradual expansion into our daily clothing place its focus on our footwear choices.

Worldwide, we are slowly becoming more eco-conscious; whether that means feeling proud after taking out the household recycling or after taking more dramatic action with protests, we are aware of the major responsibility we each hold in regards to caring for our planet. But how often do you stop to think about the impact of those, seemingly innocent, trainers that you’re putting on your feet?

Hugely popular brands such as Doc Martens have long been attracting attention for alternative options in footwear, notably with the release of their vegan options in an otherwise leather-dominated market. Doc Martens are, however, no longer the only brand offering such alternatives to those who are questioning the mass-production of fashion items. For someone who isn’t a vegan, this may seem simply irrelevant, but it is becoming increasingly more important today, as leather production no longer only raises concerns of morality, but also concerns about the environmental impacts created.

Leather is most frequently produced from cowhide and, according to a recent Guardian article; the beef industry is the largest driver of deforestation, taking responsibility for an enormous 65% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The tanning of the leather is next: another procedure that negatively impacts the environment through the production of toxic waste that compromises the health of soil and water. And, if the environmental consequences aren’t enough to convince you, then perhaps you will be persuaded by the link between workers in this leather industry and cancer. One alternative to lookout for is Piñatex, which instead makes use of pineapple leaves to construct a leather-like material.

Unfortunately, the leather production isn’t the only part of the manufacturing that is ruining the relationship between our trainers and our planet. It’s claimed that the production of one pair of running shoes emits a total 13kg of carbon dioxide. Consider that shocking? When you realise that 25 pairs are sold each second by Nike alone, that figure becomes even more overwhelming. The combination of other noxious materials and the complicated procedure to make these beloved shoes concocts the perfect recipe for an environmental nightmare.

Fortunately for us, more and more ‘eco-sneakers’ are appearing in the shops. For a long time, environmentally-friendly fashion has come with a huge price tag, scaring away even the most eco-conscious of us, but these brands are now trying to offer prices that make it possible for all of us to make the right decision.

The brand Veja has become widely known for their ethical and sustainably produced trainers, with the V-10 model being particularly popular. Veja offers eco options for the fashion and pocket conscious, with gorgeous designs made from recycled materials at prices around £100, alike most major sports brands. Another favourite is The People’s Movement, offering designs made from the durable Ekocycle, an innovative material produced from old Coca-Cola bottles, starting from £40 so there’s no reason to say no to eco-sneakers.

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