Let’s face it, change is hard. As humans, we try our hardest not to disrupt harmony, even if it means settling for less.
At the same time, we have to recognize the state our planet is in and that both the way we consume resources as well as the rate at which we do so is not sustainable. We need to start making changes to lessen our environmental impact while also improving conditions for the people who make our clothes (and shoes).
However, making changes to live a more sustainable lifestyle is not about making sacrifices. It is about making choices.
With these 5 ethical sneaker alternatives you can keep your style game turned up while dressing like you give a damn.
1. Nike Air Force 1 Alternative: Thousand Fell Court
Introducing the Court sneakers by Thousand Fell.
All white sneakers are in and the Thousand Fell Court gives you all the style with a heavy dose of positive impact. They are made from recycled plastic bottles and designed to be sent back and recycled when you’re done!
Each pair of sneakers recycles 5.8 plastic bottles and saves 10.5 miles of driving emissions, and 4,820 hours of light bulb energy. They’re also vegan friendly.
How does it feel to wear them though? As Thousand Fell says: “Comfy AF”.
Learn more about Thousand Fell’s sustainability here.
Price comparison: Nike Air Force 1 07 @ $110 Vs. Thousand Fell Court @ $135.
2. Vans Chima Pro Alternative: 8000Kicks Hemp Seeker Shoe
Introducing the Hemp Seeker Shoe by 8000Kicks.
A slight departure from the Vans skater shoe, the Seeker is an elevated minimalist sneaker and we’re into it. There’s a bigger price difference between these 2 models but you get what you pay for—and 8000Kicks sneakers are ethically made from durable hemp.
Besides exceptional quality, 8000Kicks pays its workers living wages, which it shares, and is transparent about where their shoes are made. The final production happens in Portugal and China.
Learn more about 8000Kicks sustainability here.
Oh, and for something with more of that skater vibe check out the all black Hemp Sneakers by Etiko.
Price comparison: Vans Chima Ferguson Pro @ $70 Vs. 8000Kicks Seeker Sneakers @ $125.
3. Adidas NMD City Sock Alternative: Nisolo Eco-Knit
Introducing the All-Day Eco-Knit by Nisolo.
Sock shoes are like the urban athleisure equivalent of being a ninja, as demonstrated by Adidas NMD City Sock style sneakers. Nisolo’s sock shoes capture this trend with a more sustainable and vegan friendly twist.
Nisolo is Climate Neutral Certified, a certified B Corporation, and they pay their shoe makers a living wage. They continue to inspire us with their commitment to consistent improvement over time.
Learn more about Nisolo’s sustainability here.
Price comparison: Adidas NMD City Sock @ $160 (new on stockx) Vs. Nisolo All-Day Eco-Knit @ $130.
4. New Balance 574 Alternative: Koio Retro Runner Trainers
Introducing the Retro Runner by Koio.
The New Balance 574 is a classic, versatile staple in many sneakerheads’ closets. Koio’s retro style sneakers will give you the look with a more elevated style, while also being made sustainably.
The Retro Runner’s are the biggest step up in price of the alternatives chosen here, but not without good reason. These handmade luxury sneakers are sure to turn heads, and maybe snap some necks 😉
Koio shoes are handmade in Italy with high quality leather that’s sourced more sustainability, and the LWG certifications to back it up. They also pay their shoe makers a living wage, putting them in the top 10% of all brands.
Learn more about Koio’s sustainability here.
We recommend the Retro Runner in the color Graphite (as seen above) or in Mineral.
Price comparison: New Balance 574 in color “Steel” @ $99.99 Vs. Koio Retro Runner @ $295.
5. Chuck Taylor All Star High Top Alternative: Etiko Hitops
Introducing the Hitop sneakers by Etiko.
The Hitops resembles the archetypal Chuck Taylor All Star High Top while keeping the planet and workers in mind. Made with organic cotton and natural rubber, certified Fair Trade, vegan friendly, and no toxic dyes. These sneakers are sure to keep you stylish and comfortable.
Learn more about Etiko’s sustainability here.
Price comparison: Chuck Taylor All Star High Tops @ $60 Vs. Etiko Hitops @ $87.07.
What’s Your Favorite?
Although living more consciously can positively impact people and the planet, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your style to do so. Fortunately, many ethical shoe brands have recognized this and are making the transition an easy one.
What is your favorite sustainable sneaker alternative?
Looking For More Ethical and Sustainable Shoe Brands?
*Featured image is the V-10 sneakers by Veja.
**Article updated 10/29/22.
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Asher is a writer at Eco-Stylist. In addition to sustainable fashion, environmental activism, and a zero waste lifestyle, Asher’s interests include cooking, nutrition, and learning about the human body and medicine. He’s pursuing a career in medicine while advocating for slow fashion and the environment.