The footwear industry is not so hot when it comes to sustainability and ethics. One of the reasons is that shoes are so complicated to make. Shoes tend to be made of several parts. And each part is produced in a different way using different materials. But thankfully there are now options for those wanting to choose sustainable women’s summer shoes.
The problem with shoes
Most leather shoes are tanned. Tanning might be an ancient practice. But it involves treating animal skins and hides using chromium, a serious water pollutant. This is endangering waterways all over the world.
To top it off, we have way more shoes than we need. Each year, we produce three times more shoes than there are people. And many of them endup in landfill. Such shoes are usually made from materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), synthetic rubber, polyurethane and synthetic foam. And none of these materials is biodegradable.
But before we tell you about the best sustainable shoe brands out there, ask yourself some questions. Do you really need those new strappy sandals for your holiday? Can you fix a pair you already have? Using what you already have is the most sustainable thing you can do.
But inevitably shoes will eventually wear out. Another option is to choose second-hand footwear. There are plenty of platformsselling great quality, pre-worn products.
If that’s not for you, have a look at the three companies below. It’s difficult to find women’s sustainable summer shoes that tick every box. But there are companies out there making strides towards being more sustainable.
Three of the best brands making women’s sustainable summer shoes
Waves is dedicated to stopping microplastics from entering the ocean. That’s why the Sri Lankan-based company only uses 100% natural rubber to make its classic, no-frills flip-flops.
All rubber is FSC-certified and each purchase supports the rubber farming communities of Sri Lanka. To top it all off, these flip-flops are completely vegan and Waves offers free delivery in the UK.
Toms is a certified B Corp that invests a third of its profits into grassroots organisations. It’s focusing on creating equity at the local level, by prioritising areas such as mental health and access to opportunity. If you’re looking for women’s sustainable summer shoes, check out its Earthwise and Vegan ranges.
Toms is dedicated to using more sustainable materials, including recycled polyester, organic cotton and hemp. It offers a huge range of elegant styles to see you through the year.
Gumbies makes flip-flops, sandals and slippers using natural materials.
All Gumbie flip-flops have soles made from recycled rubber. And sandals and slippers are made from cork and organic cotton.
While acknowledging there is a long way to go, Gumbie founder Michel Maurer is doing his best to help create a better planet. Gumbies uses sustainable packaging and the company will plant a tree or clean up plastic from the ocean with every purchase made.
Helping the planet little by little
Choosing sustainable summer shoes is not going to solve the planet’s problems. Yet, more and more organisations are being forced into changing how they conduct their business. And this is because we, the consumers, are changing how we buy. The more we buy sustainably, the more companies will have to improve their practices.