Depending on your outlook, this is either a great or frustrating year for shoes. On one hand, you have myriad options; whether you're into flats, chunky or spike heels, ankle boots, or thigh highs, they're all out there. On the other hand, it can be hard to know which shoes to wear, and you don't want to waste resources (or money) buying a pair of shoes that's going to go out of style by Spring.
Shoe manufacture is notoriously hard on Mother Nature: leather tanning and dyeing effluent pollute water resources, and shipping the uppers, lowers and finished shoes halfway around the world and back (to be put together by underpaid overseas workers) wastes energy. And all those trendy (and often toxic) clogs, sneakers, platforms and espadrilles eventually end up in landfills.
So make your shoe decisions wisely, both for your wardrobe, your wallet and the Earth.
Ankle boots are really hot this season, and the Maple by Terra Plana is a cool little grandma-chic number, complete with recycled quilt panel. Terra Plana uses veggie-tanned leather company-wide. The Bronte is a sleek black leather bootie that looks like it dropped in from the future and will take you zooming into 2008 and beyond.
Rodarte's above-the-ankle boot is handmade in California from vegetable-tanned leather atop an earthy-looking, 3-inch wooden heel.
Charmone's shoes are environmentally friendly (made from microfiber that doesn't contain air-polluting PVC) and animal-free. Warning! The cinnamon shoe will cause an extreme case of shoe lust among your friends.
Mink's shoes are for the high-fashionista in all of us. These sparkly numbers, playfully named the Bull, would be ideal for partying the holiday season away. All of Mink's shoes are vegan and are made from eco-friendly materials.
The Worn Again Escape shoe from Terra Plana is made of 99% recycled content (hence the name!), including old t-shirts and jeans, rubber and leather. They'd look fab paired with some dark (organic) denims or with tights and a short skirt.
These cute old-school style sneakers from Natural Collection are pretty in pink, and even prettier because they're made from hemp, a fast-growing plant that needs no pesticides or chemicals to grow. Hemp's tough stuff, so making shoes from it means they'll last for a while. They have a bit of the traditional Converse basketball shoe design in them, don't they?
These 100% rubber (latex is a renewable resource) flats from Ultragirl not only look cute and are super-sparkly, but they won't melt, run, or fall apart when it rains! A definite bonus as we head into slush season.
For super-comfy, modern, run-around-town shoes, the Patagonia Sugar and Spice pull-on is a kicky way to go. And talk about resource-friendly! They're twice as wearable, since you can remove the interior bootie (which has a sole of its own) and wear it solo, or slide it into the tougher outsole for a different look. No toxic glues are used to hold this shoe together, the footbed is made of recycled materials, and even the footframe is made of recycled plastics.
Simple's Toetally boots are a blast, and are as sustainable as I can imagine, with organic cotton/linen, printed wool, and wool felt uppers, bamboo linings, a molded latex outsole, jute laces, a removable natural latex footbed with a cotton canvas cover and a sustainable rubber midsole. Simple shoes packaging is also post-consumer recycled!
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