The 15+ Best Sustainable Sandal Brands for Summer 2023
Today we’ll be looking at…
- What makes sandals sustainable?
- How to extend the life of your sustainable sandals.
- Our picks for the best sustainable sandals.
In the ever-evolving fashion landscape, the term “sustainability” can often appear as an overused buzzword, rife with confusion and differing perspectives. Yet, it embodies a pressing need to address the fashion industry’s ecological and social challenges.
One such category is footwear—specifically sandals. As a staple of many summer wardrobes, choosing sustainable sandals can have a meaningful impact.
Let’s take a dive into the world of sustainable sandals. We’ll learn what makes a good sustainable sandal, and our top picks, too.
Our Picks For The Best Sustainable Sandals
As we explore the world of sustainable fashion, we’ve done some legwork to bring you our top picks for the best sustainable sandals.
Meeting our strict criteria for sustainability, these brands have proven themselves to be leaders in the field. We’ve looked for companies that prioritize durability and quality in their materials, offer ethical production practices, and implement innovative, eco-friendly solutions in their supply chain.
And most importantly, we found ones you’ll want to wear.
We believe these brands offer the perfect balance between style, comfort, and a genuine commitment to the planet. Read on to discover your perfect sustainable summer footwear!
|Sizes||Women’s (4 – 14) — Widths are available in Narrow, Medium, Wide|
|Materials||Chrome-Free Vegetable Dyed Vachetta Leather|
|Made In||Los Angeles|
|Price Range||$275 – $395|
|Where to Buy?||AmanuStudio.com|
Founded by South African celebrity stylist Anita Patrickson, Amanu’s slow fashion design is a love letter to tradition and craftsmanship. Each sandal is made to order with fully traceable materials and comes with a Fit Card, which allows you to adjust the fit at no extra cost.
Along with their core styles, they have a Maasai Hand Beaded Collection, which features intricate beadwork crafted by women in the Maasai tribe. For those wanting to explore their creative side, they also have a range of customizable styles where customers can design their sandals.
|Sizes||Women’s (5 – 16) | Men’s 3 – 14|
|Materials||SweetFoam made of sugarcane and carbon-negative green EVA|
|Where to buy?||Allbirds.com|
Known for their sustainable sneakers, Allbirds is expanding their footwear range with the Sugar Sliders, a unisex sustainable sandal.
These sandals are made of SweetFoam, a blend of sugarcane and the world’s first carbon-negative green EVA, and provide comfort and summer style. The straps are made of recycled polyester and a bio TPU strap end.
|Sizes||Women’s (5 – 16) (depending on style) | Men’s (4 – 14) | Kid’s ( 0 / 1 – 5)|
|Materials||REPREVE Yarn | EVA sole|
|Made In||Vietnam and China|
|Price Range||$55 – $110|
|Where to buy?||Teva.com|
Beloved for years, Teva is taking their signature sandals and making them sustainable through innovative design and their Teva Forever program. In 2020, they transitioned 100% of their straps to be made of recycled plastic REPREVE yarn, which is traceable and verifiable.
Through this design process, they have diverted 40 million plastic bottles from landfills to become sandals that the whole family will enjoy. After too many adventures, customers can recycle their Teva’s through the Teva Forever program, which will repurpose the shoes and use the materials to build running tracks, playgrounds, and more.
|Sizes||Women’s (6 – 11)|
|Materials||Sustainable Cypress Wood | Soft Upcycled Wood|
|Made In||Los Angeles and Guatemala|
|Price Range||$178 – $238|
|Where to buy?||ChristyDawn.com|
California brand Christy Dawn is known for their farm-to-closet fashion and inspiring sustainable design. They currently have two sustainable sandal options available for summer: the Ventura Clog and the Monroe sandal.
The Monroe sandal is handmade in Los Angeles from soft, upcycled deadstock leather and is designed to complete any outfit easily. Their Ventura clog has sustainable cypress wood soles and features hand-cut leather straps.
|Sizes||Women’s (36 – 41)|
|Materials||Locally-Sourced Leather (from meat industry by-products) | Recyclable Glass Beads Made With Natural Dyes|
|Price Range||$82 – $92|
|Where to buy?||Aspiga.com|
Aspiga’s colorful sandals are the perfect addition to any trip with their beaded and leather designs. Handmade in Kenya by local artisans, they use locally sourced leather (from meat industry by-products) and recyclable glass beads to create each unique pair.
To further sustainable efforts, they also run a monthly beach clean up in Malindi and pledge to pick up a basket of waste for each pair sold.
|Styles||Men’s (5 – 12)|
|Materials||Handpainted Cactus Leather|
|Where to buy?||AlexCrane.co|
Perfect for the stylish men in your lives, the cactus leather sandals from Alex Crane are a sustainable must-have this summer. Handmade in Oaxaca by a third-generation family business, these sandals are handpainted and available in four distinct colors.
Cactus leather is an amazing alternative to traditional animal leathers as it requires no irrigation and has a net positive impact on CO2 emissions.
Cactus Leather | Pineapple Leather | Grape Leather | Apple Leather
|Price Range||$139 – $199|
|Where to buy?||BohemaClothing.com|
Handmade in Poland, Bohema is embracing innovative animal leather alternatives with their range of sandals available in cactus, pineapple, grape, and apple leather.
A streetwear aesthetic with a sustainable mindset, these sandals make a statement with their fashion-forward designs. Their Edgy style is convertible and can be worn either as a gladiator sandal or a classic sandal for those wanting to change their look.
|Sizes||Women’s (5 – 11)|
|Materials||Recycled Plastic Bottles | Artemisia Argyi Insole|
|Where to buy?||Vivaia.com|
Vivaia’s sustainable sandals creatively tackle the problem of plastic bottles through innovative design. The upper part of their sandals is made from recycled plastic bottles with a lightweight EVA insole that contains Artemisia Argyi, which acts as a natural antimicrobial.
These sandals can be hand washed or machine washed, ensuring the sandals can be loved for years instead of being thrown out due to dirt or stains. They also offer teachers, students, medical professionals, and the military a 20% discount as a pledge of gratitude.
|Sizes||Unisex, S – LL|
|Materials||Recycled Materials | Bio Based soy material|
|Price Range||$38 – $60|
|Where to buy?||Oka-B.com|
Oka B’s summer sandals are 100% recyclable, made from a blend of used shoes, scrap material and bio-based material that is BPA, latex, rubber and phthalate-free. Each pair on average contains 15 – 25% recycled material.
When you are done with your sandals, you can send them back to be recycled and receive 15% off your next pair. If your summer mood board is full of Barbiecore moments, we suggest the Twiggy slide sandals in Popsicle Pink.
|Sizes||Women’s (35 – 41) (Select styles available in extended sizing 42 – 44)|
|Materials||Leather Working Group Certified Leather | Vegan Leather | Recycled rubber | jute | organic fibers|
|Where to buy?||Alohas.io|
Spanish brand ALOHAS has built its successful shoe line based on a pre-order/on-demand process to limit overproduction and fashion waste. Using sustainable materials such as Leather Working Group-certified leather, recycled rubber, and jute, these shoes combine sustainability with high-end fashion.
They also have weekly capsules of products in which items are only produced after orders are placed. By shopping on demand, customers receive up to 30% off their chosen pair.
|Sizes||Women’s and Men’s (5 – 13)|
Pineapple Leather | Apple Leather | Organic Cork | Organic Cotton | Recycled PET
|Price Range||$97 – $153|
|Where to buy?||NAE-Vegan.com|
Standing for No Animal Exploitation, NAE’s vegan leather sandals come in various sustainable and animal-friendly materials including pineapple leather, apple leather, and FSC-certified organic cork.
Made in Portugal in certified and ethical factories, NAE creates sandals for men and women without relying on animal materials. We love their Darco sandal made of pineapple leather as an eco-friendly alternative to a classic Birkenstock silhouette.
|Sizes||Women’s (5 – 11) | Men’s (8 – 13)|
Leather Working Group-certified Leather
|Price Range||$90 – $180|
|Where to buy?||Nisolo.com|
With an emphasis on empowering and educating customers, Nisolo transparently shares the sustainability facts of each of their products where buyers can see how the product lines up across 200 sustainability metrics.
Carbon footprint, working wages and raw materials integrity are just a few of the components measured so that buyers can purchase their next pair fully understanding its environmental impact.
As a certified B corporation, Nisolo also has a Shoe Reclamation Program where they collect used shoes to donate to Soles4Souls and have diverted 7,052 pairs of shoes from the landfill. Those wishing to participate can donate your old shoes to have a new life and receive a $40 credit for any Nisolo purchase.
|Materials||VEGEA Grape Leather | Upcycled insoles | EcoSuede | Pinatex|
|Price Range||$80 – $95|
|Where to buy?||1People.com|
1 People designs effortless luxury looks for the eco-conscious, keeping minimalistic style at the core of their design ethos. If you’re looking for the perfect summer slide, look no further than the Portonovi sandals from 1 People.
With a cushy insole made of natural rubber, cork, and jute that are collected from post-industrial waste, these sandals are made for summer exploring.
The straps are made of vegan grape leather composed of by-products of the wine industry and also feature a recycled polyester eco-suede lining. 1 People also has additional sustainable sandal styles including the Capri Sandals, Vegas Sandals, and the Chicago Heels.
Nomadic State of Mind
|Sizes||Women’s 6 – 10 | Men’s 8 – 13 | Kids 24 – 32|
|Where to buy?||Shop.NomadicStateofMind.com|
Infamous across Instagram, Nomadic State of Mind’s signature rope sandals have fans from all backgrounds and lifestyles. Made by hand in Nicaragua with fair trade and ethical practices, these sandals are perfect for tucking into any beach bag and machine washable to be washed and reused for years to come.
They also use rope sandal scrapes to be upcycled into rugs, handbags, and water bottle carriers so no material goes unused. As an extra sustainable bonus, these shoes do not come with a shoebox as a means to limit packaging waste.
|Sizes||Women’s (6 – 11) | Men’s (9 – 13)|
|Materials||Responsibly Sourced Leather | Upcycled tires|
|Price Range||$42 – $100|
|Where to buy?||DeuxMains.com|
Using soles made of upcycled tires, Deux Mains sandals are handmade in Haiti and come with a 50,000-mile guarantee, ensuring these shoes are built to last for many summers.
Currently, the brand has transformed more than 15,000 tires into sturdy soles, alleviating the problem of waste and consumption. These shoes are created with traditional craft methods in a solar-powered, woman-owned factory that supports the Haitian community through liveable wages, health insurance, and access to education.
What Makes Sandals Sustainable?
“Sustainable” sandals are constructed with longevity in mind. These are pairs you can wear for several seasons, outliving the ever-changing trends of the fashion industry.
Truly sustainable brands use eco-friendly materials, prioritize ethical manufacturing processes, and limit overproduction by releasing smaller batches.
Quality and Durability
Quality, durability, and materials are paramount when considering sustainable sandals. Footwear demands considerable functionality and resilience, making sustainability a challenge.
Most shoes, for instance, aren’t recyclable. Hence, the importance of durability is elevated. Buying less—by investing in long-lasting goods—significantly contributes to sustainability.
Navigating the world of sustainable materials can be a challenge, but understanding the properties of each can make your choice easier and more aligned with your values. Here’s a deeper dive into the materials you might find in sustainable sandals:
- Leather — Traditionally, leather isn’t seen as an eco-friendly material due to the environmental impact of its production process. However, leather can be a sustainable choice when sourced responsibly and vegetable-tanned. High-quality leather is durable, long-lasting, and can be repaired, reducing the need for frequent replacements. Be sure to look for Leather Working Group certified tanneries for the most sustainable leather options.
- Plant-Based Vegan Leather — These alternatives, often comprised of various plant-based materials, are growing in popularity due to ethical concerns associated with traditional leather. While they still contain synthetic components, their use reduces the reliance on animal products. However, durability can be a concern, as some vegan leathers are not as long-lasting as their traditional counterparts.
- Upcycled Materials — Upcycling reuses waste materials to create products of higher value than the original. Upcycled materials could include anything from discarded textiles to plastic waste. These materials prevent waste from ending up in landfills and reduce the need for new resources, making them an excellent choice for sustainability.
- Recycled Plastic — Some brands use recycled plastics in their sandals, converting waste into stylish and durable footwear. By repurposing plastic waste, these brands help to reduce pollution and lower the demand for virgin plastic.
- Organic Cotton — Unlike conventional cotton, organic cotton is grown without harmful pesticides and fertilizers, making it a more eco-friendly choice. It’s breathable and comfortable, making it an excellent material for sandal straps.
- Cork — Cork is a sustainable and renewable material harvested from cork oak trees without harming the tree. It’s lightweight, comfortable, and has a unique aesthetic, making it a popular choice for sustainable sandals.
- Jute — This natural fiber is biodegradable and recyclable. It is often used in producing espadrille-style sandals due to its rustic and earthy aesthetic.
- Innovative Materials (Piñatex, Apple Leather, VEGEA) — These innovative materials are derived from byproducts of the food industry and offer a sustainable alternative to traditional leather. Piñatex is made from pineapple leaf fibers, apple leather from apple waste, and VEGEA from grape waste. These materials represent the cutting edge of sustainable footwear and show promise for future developments in the industry.
- Natural Rubber — Used in outsoles, natural rubber is biodegradable and offers excellent durability and comfort. It’s a renewable resource, making it a sustainable choice for footwear.
Understanding these materials can help you make an informed decision aligning with your values and needs. Whether you prioritize durability, comfort, or ethical considerations, there’s a sustainable sandal out there for you.
Ethical Production: People Matter Too
Sustainable sandals should be crafted ethically, providing fair wages, safe working conditions, and benefits to workers. Transparency in manufacturing processes is crucial to verify ethical practices.
Look for brands offering supply chain transparency and exceeding standards to ensure fair production. Not every company does everything perfectly, but honesty about improvements and commitments to enhancing ethical practices are essential steps toward a sustainable fashion future.
How To Extend The Life of Your Sustainable Sandals
Maintaining your sandals correctly extends their life, reducing the frequency of replacement and further benefiting the environment. Here are some tips on how to keep your sustainable sandals in the best shape:
- Cleaning — Regular cleaning is essential to keep your sandals looking their best and to prevent build-up of dirt and grime that could shorten their lifespan. The appropriate cleaning method will depend on the material of your sandals. For leather sandals, a damp cloth should be enough for surface dirt. A mild soap can be used for more stubborn stains. For sandals made from fabric or other materials, check if they are machine washable. If they’re not, hand washing with mild soap and warm water is often a safe bet. Always allow your sandals to air dry naturally, away from direct heat, which could warp or shrink them.
- Weather Protection — Certain materials, like leather, can be sensitive to weather conditions. To protect your sandals, consider using a protective spray that’s appropriate for the material. This can repel water and guard against stains. Be sure to apply the spray in a well-ventilated area and allow it to fully dry before wearing the sandals.
- Storage — When not in use, especially during off-seasons, store your sandals in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, which can cause some materials to fade or become brittle. Try not to stack sandals on top of each other, as this can lead to them becoming misshapen. If possible, use shoe trees or stuff them with acid-free tissue paper to help them retain their shape.
- Regular Checks — Regularly inspect your sandals for any damage. If you spot a loose strap or a worn sole, take them to a cobbler for repair. Catching and addressing these issues early can extend the life of your sandals and is often more cost-effective than waiting until they’re beyond repair.
- Mindful Usage — Be mindful of where and how you’re using your sandals. While sustainable sandals are designed for durability, they’re not indestructible. Avoid wearing them in situations they’re not designed for. For instance, don’t wear delicate cork sandals on a rugged hiking trail.
- Rotating Footwear — It can be tempting to wear your favorite pair of sustainable sandals every day during the summer, but shoes benefit from a rest period between wears. This allows any moisture they’ve absorbed to dry out fully, which can help prevent odor and the growth of bacteria. If possible, try to rotate between two or more pairs of sandals.
By following these maintenance tips, you can ensure your sustainable sandals stay in great condition for many summers to come. Remember, the most sustainable product is the one that lasts the longest.