The word vegan no longer has the outlandish connotations it once did. Forty years ago, labeling something as ‘vegan’ would have deterred people from purchasing it. Nowadays, brands are rushing to put out ‘vegan-friendly’ products made from innovative materials to push their sustainability goals forward.
It’s important to point out that just because something is vegan, doesn’t mean it’s sustainable. With that being said, any brand making efforts to lessen the amount of animal leather they purchase and sell is making a step in the right direction.
Here are five big brands making shoes out of recycled materials or vegan leather.
1. Pangaia Grape Leather Sneakers
Ever wondered where all the skins, seeds, and stems go after crushing grapes to make wine? Well, thanks to Pangaia, lots of the waste is going to make stylish sneakers. The Italian wine industry’s waste provides Pangaia with its lightweight and breathable plant leather. It also requires little water or vegetable tanning alternatives and is sustainably produced in Portugal.
Sustainability was also considered when creating the shoe’s rubber sole. The rubber is made using industrial waste from samples, rejects, prototypes, and other products that don’t pass quality-inspection tests.
2. Nike ‘Pineapple Cork’ Shoes
Unfortunately, these Nike Air Force 1’s made from pineapple waste aren’t edible, but they are eco-friendly. Made with the patented pineapple vegan leather Pinatex, these sneakers have been designed to reflect their organic origins.
The main body of the sneaker is constructed from cork. The imperfect tan exterior makes the shoe instantly recognizable.
3. Veja Vegan Leather Sneakers
Veja is the new brand everyone is talking about. The ‘V’ embroidered on the sides of their sneakers has replaced the classic Converse All-Star label in ‘it’ groups. Veja sells animal leather and canvas sneakers, but they offer entirely vegan leather shoes, too.
Their vegan leather is made from corn waste and polyurethane. Aesthetically, there isn’t much of a difference between the vegan and non-vegan leathers sold by Veja. Polyurethane leather has more grain to it and is also used to make furniture.
4. Adidas ‘Primegreen’
Adidas has been making efforts to lower its environmental impact, particularly when it comes to the use of virgin polyester. Their ‘Primegreen’ line isn’t just for their sneakers, but it does give consumers the option to stray away from buying new plastic products.
Primegreen is a recently-developed fabric that contains no virgin polyester fibers or plastic. Adidas Primegreen sneakers are clearly labeled, and you’ll be pleased to find that most of their sneakers are made from Primegreen now.
5. Reebok Vegan Leather Sneakers
Made from synthetic suede, the Reebok Classic Leather Vegan Shoes are a sustainable blast from the past. Their soles are curved upwards and the colors are sharp. If these sneakers weren’t clearly labeled ‘vegan’, we would have never guessed they didn’t contain any animal products (including in the glues and colors).
If You Have the Choice, Why Not Choose Vegan?
Large fashion brands are making it easier for consumers to choose the ethical option. While some may argue that it’s difficult to shop sustainably when buying new clothes, we appreciate the steps these brands have taken. Hopefully, at some point, vegan shoes will become the norm when it comes to leather sneakers, and not just another way to sell more products.
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Easy Ways to Help the Planet:
- Eat Less Meat: Download Food Monster, the largest plant-based recipe app on the App Store to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy. You can also buy a hard or soft copy of our favorite vegan cookbooks.
- Reduce Your Fast Fashion Footprint: Take initiative by standing up against fast fashion pollution and supporting sustainable and circular brands like Tiny Rescue that are raising awareness around important issues through recycled zero-waste clothing designed to be returned and remade over and over again.
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- Do What You Can: Reduce waste, plant trees, eat local, travel responsibly, reuse stuff, say no to single-use plastics, recycle, vote smart, switch to cold water laundry, divest from fossil fuels, save water, shop wisely, donate if you can, grow your own food, volunteer, conserve energy, compost, and don’t forget about the microplastics and microbeads lurking in common household and personal care products!