Have you ever stopped to think about the impact your sneaker obsession might be having on the environment? It's estimated that over 24 billion pairs of shoes are produced every year, with sneakers accounting for the majority. Combine that figure with the fact that a typical pair of running shoes generates approximately 13.6 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions and it's safe to say we've got a problem on our hands.
It's not all bad though. With a growing demand for eco-friendly sneakers, an increasing number of brands are responding, harnessing innovative design and manufacturing processes to create ethical sneakers that don't skimp on style. From vegan trainers made from recycled materials to consciously-made leather sneakers: scroll on to discover some of the best sustainable trainers for men to shop in 2022.
Brazilian sneaker brand Cariuma has put an innovative spin on a classic canvas skate shoe and the result is the bestselling OCA Low. A GOTS-certified organic cotton upper is combined with a lightweight yet sturdy natural rubber sole and a flexible, cushioned insole made from cork, bio memory foam and organic mamona oil. If that's not enough, every pair purchased will result in two trees planted to aid in the restoration and protection of Brazilian rainforests. Choose from a range of colourways, including neutral hues like off-white and all-black as well as bolder shades of green, pink and yellow.
Innovatively crafted from seven renewable materials including corn fibre, algae bloom and organic cotton canvas, these sustainable men's trainers from London-based label Hylo have a 52% lower carbon footprint than standard sneakers. Plus, when you eventually wear them out, you can send them back to Hylo for recycling.
These vegan sneakers from sustainable label LØCI are handmade in Portugal from 100% recycled materials and boast a water-resistant upper, custom-made cork insole and a lightweight recycled rubber sole for extra durability in creating a no-slip rubber grip. Every pair of LØCI sneakers saves 20 plastic bottles from entering our oceans and landfills. Plus, 10% of profits are given to LØCI's charity partners who are working to save the oceans.
These comfortable sneakers from LA-based footwear label CLAE are made from 100% vegan materials, with a durable synthetic upper, an insole made from cork and 100% recycled PU foam, and outsoles made with recycled chips from rubber waste. Their minimalist retro-inspired silhouette makes them a versatile go-to for everyday wear.
SAYE has garnered a cult following thanks to its retro-inspired trainers that are as stylish as they are sustainable. Every pair is lovingly made in Portugal using recycled and organic materials, with each sale resulting in two trees being planted in a reforestation project. The Barcelona-based label's Modelo '65 Vegan sneakers are proof of its eco-conscious approach: crafted from 100% water-repellent organic cotton with bamboo lining and a recycled rubber sole, they're a win for your wardrobe and a win for the planet.
Uniform Standard's commitment to social and environmental responsibility is inherent within its design philosophy. Its perfectly pared back Series 4 high-top sneakers feature a premium suede upper from a LWG gold-certified tannery. They also make use of recycled materials such as rubber, cork and rice husk shells, as well as recycled high density polyurethane foam.
ETQ Amsterdam's first foray into vegan sneakers is a clear success. Made from a plant-based leather alternative by Italian eco-innovator Vegea, it looks and feels just like real calf-leather, but without the detrimental environmental footprint.
With sustainability a key focus throughout every step of the process, Dutch label WAHTS produces luxury sportswear that's easy on the planet. Its sleek and sporty Norris Runner is ethically crafted in Portugal from premium Italian suede with a smooth calfskin lining and lightweight Vibram sole. The measures don't end at the manufacturing stage. Everything WAHTS produces is shipped by land rather than air, using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified packaging.
Veja is one of the leading names in eco-friendly trainers, and for good reason. Its popular Marlin sneakers, which are made in Brazil from a combination of recycled polyester, sugar cane, rice waste and ricinus oil, demonstrate the exciting potential of utilising non-conventional materials. Their fashion-forward silhouette is also proof that sustainability doesn't have to come at the cost of style.
Yatay's 100% vegan sneakers are made in Italy from eco-friendly materials like corn-leather. Not only are they sustainably crafted, but they're hard-wearing too, so they'll withstand whatever adventures you have in store. The label's Model 1B is crafted from a specially-developed bio-based material derived from non-food plant sources, with a biodegradable rubber sole. A heat-stamped unique code on the left heel tab is the key to learning more about Yatay's sustainable initiatives.
Allbirds has made a name for itself as one of the most sustainable trainer companies at the moment, utilising a whole array of natural fibres in its sneakers – from lyocell to castor bean oil. Thanks to sustainable practices such as the use of natural materials and the purchase of carbon offsets, the brand's bestselling Tree Runners are carbon neutral. They also happen to be ultra-comfy, designed for a cushiony and contoured feel.
Adidas has taken its iconic Stan Smith shoe - you know the one - and given it a sustainable makeover, adding a vegan upper made from a series of high-performance recycled materials, and an outsole made from rubber waste. It's the classic tennis shoe that we all know and love, just with added sustainability. What's not to love?
With a fierce commitment to manufacturing shoes according to the strictest environmental standards, Slovakian sneaker label Novesta only uses materials such as sustainably sourced natural rubber and 100 per cent cotton and linen. The brand is best-known for its classic Star Master shoe, an ultra-durable and timeless footwear staple that's handmade from the finest natural rubber and canvases.
Now that you've invested in a pair of sustainable trainers, how about making the rest of your wardrobe more sustainable?
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