6 Best Practices For Producing Sustainable Shoes Mens Feet Will Love

by S4G Staff | December 29th, 2022

At Support4Good, we aim to educate consumers about the best products and impact partners to enable conscious shopping either with us or with different websites out there doing the good work. Today, I want to focus on shoes for the guys and some of the coolest sustainable shoes mens feet will love, what they are doing, what materials they use, and why and how supply chain and logistics factor into the making of a sustainable shoe. I hope you'll learn a lot and be able to make better choices. In the end, we'll reveal a few of my favorite sustainable men's shoes that we hope will soon be available through Support4Good. Let's begin.
 

When it comes to sustainable shoes, men's and women's, fantastic brands are creating innovative and eco-friendly designs. These brands are making a real difference in the fashion industry by the way they manage their supply chain and logistics to their choice of materials like organic cotton, hemp, and natural rubber.

So that you have a frame of reference, I'll first give the nod to one of the most famous brands, Allbirds, which uses merino wool and sugarcane-based foam for its innovative designs. The brand has also partnered with the Rainforest Alliance (read our somewhat critical Rainforest Alliance article) to ensure that its products are sourced from sustainable forests. They also promote transparency in their supply chain and are committed to reducing their carbon footprint.

Beyond AllBirds, what are sustainable men's shoe brands doing?

 

With every standard, there is a range of performance and quality. B Corps, for example, allow pretty low environmental scores on a sliding scale when different category scores are very high. This modularity of what constitutes sustainability is problematic. Still, there are exemplary practices that the leading sustainable shoe brands employ to set the bar for the sustainable shoes mens love. 

What follows is a somewhat exhaustive list of things to look for when you seek out sustainable shoes for men

1. Sustainable practices like: 

  • The use of organic materials
  • recycled materials
  • Energy efficiency practices like using low-temperature drying methods
  • The use of sustainable packaging
  • Water recycling
  • Practicing responsible manufacturing
  • Paying a living wage (should be higher than minimum wage, enough to provide for a family, and based on the economy of the employee.)
  • Vegetable-based tanning (for leathers)
  • Implementing 3rd-party Audits of facilities and factories
  • Commitment to the product with lifetime warranties and lifetime guarantees
  • Sustainability and human rights impact through their party partners

2. Sustainable Materials (organic, recycled, or ...)

  • cotton
  • hemp
  • natural rubber
  • recycled rubber
  • re-claimed leathers
  • PET plastics and yarns
  • vegan leather
  • cork
  • coconut
  • TPU (not truly sustainable, but an improvement)
  • recycled and upcycled textiles
  • natural bioplastics
  • jute
  • recycled polyester
  • thermoplastic polyurethane
  • non-toxic dyes and glues

             
 

3. 3rd-party Sustainability Auditors

  1. Fair Labor Association
  2. Bureau Veritas
  3. Interek
  4. SGS
  5. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
  6. Textile Exchange
  7. Leather Working Group
  8. Undisclosed third-party auditors
  9. Internal sustainability teams

4. Sustainability Certifiers and Partner Memberships

5. Green Chemistry

Green chemistry is a science that aims to reduce or cancel the use of hazardous materials in everyday products, including shoes. It is a field of research that focuses on making chemical processes and products more environmentally friendly by reducing waste and emissions. It also looks to replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives, ensuring that the end product is better for both the environment and human health. Green chemistry is a key part of sustainable production, as it helps reduce the production process's environmental impact while creating a more efficient and cost-effective way to produce goods. Some examples include:

  • Tencel (also known as Lyocell) is a natural, semi-synthetic fiber made from wood pulp and produced in a closed-loop system. It is decomposable, recyclable, and uses significantly less water and energy than traditional cellulosic fabrics like cotton. Most would say its production process are environmentally friendly and produces less waste, comparitively speaking.
  • Green chemists recycle polyester by melting down existing polyester fibers and spinning them into fibers. This process uses either mechanical or chemical means. The mechanical method involves breaking the existing fibers into smaller pieces, while the chemical method involves dissolving the fibers in a solvent. The resulting recycled polyester fibers can then be used to create clothing and footwear products.
  • Repreve Polyester is a recycled polyester fabric made from post-consumer plastic bottles. The process involves melting plastic bottles and spinning them into fibers. The resulting fabric is lightweight, sturdy, and soft, making it an ideal material for apparel and footwear. It is also considered a more environmentally-friendly option than conventional polyester, as it helps reduce the amount of non-biodegradable waste sent to landfills.
  • Orange Fiber is a eco-friendly fabric made from citrus fruit by-products. Eco-chemists produce it by extracting the cellulose fibers from the by-products and blending them with a natural polymer. The fabric is lightweight, resistant to wrinkles, and has a silky texture, making it well-suited for the fashion and shoe industries.
  • Pineapple leather is a vegan-friendly and eco-friendly alternative to animal leather. It is produced by harvesting and extracting the fibers of pineapple leaves, which the manufacturers blend with a non-toxic polymer and treated with natural waxes and oils. The resulting material is soft but long-lasting and can create shoes, not to mention additional fashion products.
  • Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a type of material that has several environmental benefits. It is highly flexible, and resistant to wear and tear, so that everyday people can reuse it for a long time. It is also recyclable, which can be broken down and reused to create new products. Also, TPU does not contain any hazardous chemicals, so it is reliable for use in products and does not emit any toxic fumes during production. Overall, TPU can be an excellent choice for those looking for a sustainable material that is also highly durable and long-lasting.
  • Bioplastics come from renewable materials. That means plants, rather than petroleum-based materials. Some examples of natural bioplastics include polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), starch-based plastics, and cellulose-based plastics. To render PLA, chemists first gather cornstarch or sugarcane. PHA derives from bacteria, and starch and cellulose-based plastics source from plants like potatoes, soy, and bamboo. Bioplastics are a product of renewable resources. Thanks to their raw materials, these bioplastics are generally more sustainable than traditional plastics, and are often biodegradable.
  • Adhesives like:
    •  Natural latex adhesive
    • Soy-based adhesive
    • Starch-based adhesive
    • Biopolymer adhesive
    • Plant-based adhesive
    • Urea Formaldehyde-based adhesive

6. Sustainable Shoes for Men need a Sustainable Supply Chain

The sustainable shoe supply chain materials like organic cotton, hemp, and natural rubber and logistics differ from the conventional shoe supply chain and logistics in several ways. Eco-friendly production processes use fewer resources and have These types of responsible logistic processes often emphasize minimizing waste, using renewable energy sources, and reducing emissions. Sustainable supply chain management should also focus on ethical sourcing, conscientious disposal, and supporting local economies. Sustainable shoe supply chains and logistics also rely on efficient transportation methods that minimize the product's carbon footprint. Finally, eco-friendly shoe manufacturers often focus on transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain and take special pains to produce ethically.

The central hub of a sustainable shoes men's company is it's factories, so it's worth noting what are some of the measures factories can take in particular:

Planners design sustainable factories to reduce energy consumption and waste. This can include using natural light, investing in energy-efficient equipment, using renewable energy sources, and recycling materials. It also means ensuring that employees have a healthy working environment. Sustainable factories should also prioritize sound sourcing and production processes, ensuring that all materials are ethically sourced and produced in an environmentally-friendly way. On top of that, an eco-conscious factory should adhere to industry-leading workplace safety standards, labor rights, and environmental protection. Finally, the factory should strive to be as transparent as possible, informing consumers about their production methods and the materials used in their products.

A note on materials claimed to be sustainable: Stakeholders in the material tout EVA foam as a biodegradable good, but some environmental concerns are associated with it. It is made from petroleum-based raw materials, which are not renewable resources, and can release toxic chemicals into the air and water during production. The foam is not environmentally-safe, so it can linger in landfills for centuries without breaking down.

 

Sustainable Shoes Mens Feet Love - The Shout Outs

Aspect Climate Projects

 



Aspect Climate Projects manufactures its shoes in Italy and Portugal, both renowned for their commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. To ensure that these factories are held to the standards, Aspect Climate Projects works with the Leather Working Group (LWG) and the European Union (EU) to ensure that their factories comply with accountable manufacturing policies. They are also focused on reducing their carbon emissions and water consumption. To ensure compliance,  Aspect Climate Projects subjects its factories to regular audits to ensure that they uphold the maximum sustainability standards.

 

Undo for Tomorrow


sustainable shoes mens undo for tomorrow

UNDO For Tomorrow Store has committed to sustainability and ethical production. They use recycled, and organic materials in their shoes and have developed “closed-loop” production processes to minimize waste. They also work with factories in India and Portugal that comply with high workplace safety standards and environmental protection. Similarly, as far as I know, they commit to protecting workers' rights and have implemented a code of conduct that addresses labor rights, safety, and environmental protection.

I have a pair of these shoes and the thing I love about a quality sustainable shoe is how much they stand out from the usual suspects of recognizable brands and the fact that I am reminded with every step I take of a commitment I made to the environment when I bought these shoes. All of these brands will turn heads and make you feel good. It's time to give sustainable shoes a try.

These are my Undo For Tomorrow Shoes

 

MoEa


sustainable shoes mens moea

Moea is is a standout among eco shoe brands for its commitment to using natural, recyclable materials to create shoes that are both chic and environmentally friendly. Cork, pineapple husks, algae, and recycled plastic are some of the main ingredients in MoEa shoes. They also use water-based glues and non-toxic dyes. Not only that, but ethical manufacturing processes is important to a company like MoEa, as is paying fair wages and ensuring safe working conditions. All of these features make Moea something special in the sustainable shoe ecosystem.

 

Saola


sustainable shoes mens saola

Saola is unique thanks to its commitment to using eco-friendly materials, investing in ethical production, and reducing environmental impact. Saola's team crafts shoes from environmentally friendly materials such as recycled plastic, organic cotton, and vegan leather. Also, Saola works with factories in Vietnam that are certified by the Fair Wear Foundation, helping to ensure that workers get fair wages and safe working conditions. According to publicly available info, Saola commits to reducing its carbon footprint, investing in renewable energy sources, and using sustainable packaging.

The Saola, or the Pseudoryx_nghetinhensis is an endangered species we wrote about back in 2021, and is native to South Asian countries like Laos and Vietnam. My only critique of Saola shoes is they might give their namesake, the beautiful endangered deer-like creature a bit more credit. The destruction of meaningful things by brands ie., Amazon and Tesla, is a topic for another post.

Thaely


sustainable shoes mens thaely

Thaely is a renewable-principled shoe brand and shines in its commitment to creating quality, snappy shoes with a low environmental impact. Thaely makes their shoes from recycled plastic and discarded fishing nets, and in this way, their methodology is singular in this list. They also use water-based glues and non-toxic dyes. Thaely is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, investing in renewable energy sources, and using sustainable packaging.


 

If you are an eco-friendly shoemaker, we invite you to join us at Support4Good! The brands featured here that make sustainable shoes for men are some of the best. With Support4Good, you can supplement the work you do internally to green your brand by partnering with our nonprofits and impact partners. With that in mind, if you think your brand might be a fit, or if you are a reader who loves a brand and want us to know about it, give us a shout here.

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