While they may not be a runway phenomenon yet, shoes made from recycled material are getting increasingly popular as both consumers and producers become more eco conscious. Look for upcycled and recycled shoes made from materials as diverse as water bottles and recycled rubber. These shoes run the style gamut, proving that you don’t have to dress like a hippie to prove you care about the environment.
TOMS: Fashionistas, vegans and do-gooders alike already know and love TOMS, where each shoe sale means that a pair of TOMS is given to a child in need. Beyond the eco appeal of the material, TOMS shoes use recycled components and do not contain any animal product. What’s not to love about that? While TOMS aren’t made exclusively with recycled materials, they do source used rubber for the soles.
New Balance Sky Shoes: Who would have guessed that these upscale sneakers from sneaker retailer New Balance are made from water bottles? The charcoal background is offset against flirty shades of pink, blue and chartreuse. Despite their makeup of water bottles, the shoes are actually super comfortable and even toasty enough that you can wear them in the winter. The fabric breathes and moves just like you need it to in a shoe. Plus, New Balance really hit the mark here in making these recycled material shoes look like something of quality.
Naya Shoes: For classic feminine shoe shapes that use unconventional materials, look no further than Naya Shoes. When possible, this manufacturer treats leather in only natural manner, uses recycled materials for packaging and recycled both cork and rubber to create shoe soles. If you’ve been looking for a way to get some of the fashion boots and other styles that you love, while maintaining that environment commitment, Naya Shoes has the styles that will keep your feet and your mind happy.
Terra Plana: The Terra Plana Worn Again collection uses a fascinating mix of materials to create upcycled shoes. The company is pledged to a zero waste commitment. Choose shoes made from old parachutes, rubber, tires, military jackets, leather automobile interior, bicycle tires and the like. Terra Plana makes sandals and shoes for both men and women. The collection definitely has a casual feel, so look for house shoes or beach attire.
Patagonia: Outdoor retailer Patagonia may not be known for their shoes, but they do make a fair number of footwear pieces — and demonstrate an admirable commitment to recycled materials. Patagonia offers both leather and vegan-friendly casual shoes, with recycled rubber for the soles and 50 percent recycled material for shoe insulation. Patagonia even offers shoe resoling on some of their shoes, which allows you to continue wearing the footwear you love for longer.
If the ideas of some of these shoes really inspire you, you could get craft and create your own recycled material shoes. You may not be able to convert water bottles to usable fabric, but you can turn old bicycle or car tires into footwear. You could even create these out-there high heels, made from computer printer circuit boards (PCBs).
What do you think? Are you behind the idea of recycled footwear in theory, but unwilling to wear some of the more bare-bones styles? Next time you’re taking your car in for a new set of tires, consider saving the old ones for a pair of DIY shoes. Are you so jazzed by the idea that you’re brainstorming ways to create shoes from material you have on hand, and if so, what materials are you excited to use?