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Vegans and vegetarians who want to extend their cruelty-free choices from their diet into their wardrobe have a lot more choices than they did just a few years ago. But when it comes to sustainable shoes, things get a little more complicated. The most common material used for vegan leather is PVC plastic. PVC has a terrible environmental record, and usually doesn’t make for very high-quality shoes. Recycled plastic is a step in the right direction, but avoiding plastic altogether is a better choice.Chippewa Boots It’s still hard to find a completely vegan, plastic-free shoe. Fortunately, some shoe companies are starting to work with more plant-based materials instead of leather and petroleum-based synthetics.
Zen Running Club
Zen Running Club is getting close to its goal of a 100% plant-based running shoe. It has replaced plastic-based viscose with Lyocell, a breathable mesh fabric made from the pulp of farmed eucalyptus trees. Zen Running Club is one of a handful of companies using a new EVA foam made from sugar cane instead of plastic to make its midsoles. And while many athletic shoes now have lightweight plastic soles, Zen Running Club is sticking with natural rubber from an FSC plantation. The company is working to find plant-based replacements for the synthetic additives that are currently required to make the rubber perform well.
Since the pandemic, slippers have become an essential wardrobe item. Mahabis winter slippers are not plant-based; they are made from postconsumer recycled wool and virgin wool that is certified organic and humanely sheared (non-mulesed). But the company’s summer slippers are made from Tencel, one of the better sustainable fabric choices, with a natural cork footbed. Rick Owens ShoesAlthough designed primarily for indoor wear, Mahabis slippers have a sneaker-like sole that allows them to be worn outdoors. Some designs still use a plastic sole, but there are options with natural rubber soles or soles made from an EVA containing rubber and corn flour.