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Fashion & Climate: Shoes For a Better (Carbon!) Footprint

Fashion & Climate: Shoes For a Better (Carbon!) Footprint

Ethical fashion has made strides in the last few years. Companies like The Reformation are revolutionizing the concept of corporate transparency,  while others like Matter give apparel value beyond what's on the price tag -- by ensuring ethical production and sustainably-sourced fabrics. While these go-getters tackle clothing, the luxury brand Bottle Top transforms handbag owners into ambassadors of the brand's larger mission. Each purse is a unique cultural and sustainable design with an empowering story to tell.

However, when addressing environmental impact, we better look down. The shoe industry leaves a hefty carbon footprint, thanks largely to manufacturing.  A recent study by a team of MIT scientists analyzed the manufacturing environmental costs of running shoes, and found they generate 30 lbs of emissions. Typical sandals and running shoes require several, different components, including synthetics, plastics, and leather.  According to The Guardian, "the particular shoe studied by the MIT team was made from 26 different materials, and required 360 different steps to manufacture and assemble."

A typical pair of synthetic trainers generates 30lbs of emissions, equivalent to leaving a 100-watt bulb burning for a week.
— The Guardian

Environmentally-conscious shoppers need to be wary of the manufacturing and supply chain of their purchases. Although sustainable sneakers are still in development, I have listed some of my favorite sustainably- and ethically- produced sandals and flats to keep out for in the meantime. 


Oka-B are eco-fashionable, and incredibly comfortable shoes worth many NYC miles. They come in flats, wedges, and sandals, and are proudly manufactured and distributed from their local headquarters outside of Atlanta, GA. In addition, the headquarters is a low-waste facility that incorporates recycled materials whenever possible. The shoes themselves are recyclable! If you feel it's time to part with your pair - although they are built to last - you can take them to any recycling facility that accepts items labeled as #3 under the International Universal Recycling Code. Alternatively, Oka-B's can be sent back to the factory where they will happily recycle them into new pairs. 


Tredagain Upcycled Tire Sandals


Tredagain calls itself the world's first upcycled-tire shoe. This is because the company has reinvented the tire-recycling process. They "upcycle" old tires and produce a 100% clean, virgin rubber substitute called APX. They use APX to develop the shoe's sole and other components. Made in the USA in Austin, Texas, these sandals are perfect for both men and women, around the campfire, at the pool, or for any daily shenanigans. 

Adidas and Parley for the Oceans

Photo Credit: Adidas News Stream

Photo Credit: Adidas News Stream

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the most exciting development...a collaborative effort by Adidas and Parley to develop an athletic shoe that FINALLY addresses environmental impact without impacting quality. The prototype boasts an "upper," the top of the shoe where laces are thread, made entirely by yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea glints. According to Adidas, Parley partner Sea Shepherd retrieved the prototype's nets after a 110-day expedition tracking an illegal poaching vessel off the coast of West Africa. 

Want to know more? Check out my sources below!

Goldenberg, Suzanne. "Running shoes leave large carbon footprint, study shows." 23 May 2013. The Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/may/23/running-shoes-carbon-footprint

Adidas and Parley. Adidas News Stream. 29 June 2015. http://news.adidas.com/US/Latest-News/ALL/ADIDAS-AND-PARLEY-FOR-THE-OCEANS-SHOWCASE-SUSTAINABILITY-INNOVATION-AT-UN-CLIMATE-CHANGE-EVENT/s/f66a1b3e-8a9f-48b5-825f-63ddc72c09e7

Treadagain Footwear.

Oka-B Footwear.


NYC Climate Week: Where To Go, What To Know

NYC Climate Week: Where To Go, What To Know

Climate Policy Hits the News: 6 Highlights & Headlines Handpicked For You

Climate Policy Hits the News: 6 Highlights & Headlines Handpicked For You