Sustainable Ethical Shoes in Europe 2022

Ethletic Trainers

I find buying sustainable, ethical shoes in Ireland an absolute nightmare. It seems that either you go for vegan plastic or biodegradable leather. I’ve know canvas shoes are in vogue at the moment and I’d happily chance a pair of canvas trainers in showery Ireland but not a pair of canvas pumps – too risky! To date I’ve limited myself to trying to buy the most durable shoes I can find in an effort to buy less shoes overall but this article has introduced me to some really stunning options that I’m keen to road test in the future.

Nothing mentioned in this article has been sponsored.

I’ve debated whether to include vegan shoes and brands in this article because they typically use plastic in their uppers. I don’t have an issue with plastic being used where it will last a long time but in my experience plastic uppers aren’t long-lasting, which, in my opinion, makes them unsustainable. That said, I do feature leather which for a lot of people is unethical. I include it because it’s long lasting and from what I’ve read leather is a byproduct of the meat industry and not the other way around. But all things considered I prefer to prefer to give people as much information as possible so that they can chose what suits their values best and so I’ve included both in this article. To find out a bit more about the materials that shoe companies use check out my article on Sustainable Ethical Fibres and my Pros and Cons of Sustainable Materials.

Before we launch into brands of new shoes I want to give a shout out to Sole Responsibility, a UK reseller of ex-display shoes!!!!


Made of Cork in Cork! sell bags, wallets and shoes made from cork leather in Portugal. The store owner told me that no plastic or synthetic chemicals is used in making the cork leather, just adhesive to stick it to the backing fabric, which may or may not be natural so check before you buy.

Timberland now offer shoes and boots made from leather created in an energy efficient factory, coupled with with a percentage of recycled plastic and recycled rubber. They also have a trainer made from recycled plastic bottles.

Schuh has a Converse shoe made with recycled PET from plastic bottles.

Nike are now selling trainers made with 50% recycled content.

Adidas now have trainers made with 70% recycled content.

G-Star have sneakers made from 100% recycled denim

If designer brands are more your thing then check out the range of pre-loved designer shoes at Siopaella, either online or in their store in Dublin.

If your definition of sustainable includes locally handmade shoes then check out Tutty’s Handmade Shoes in Co Kildare.

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If you can’t buy other garments second hand check out my other listing of Sustainable Ethical Clothing & Accessory Brands


Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

15 thoughts on “Sustainable Ethical Shoes in Europe 2022

  1. Thanks for this article. Yes, it’s extremely difficult to buy ethical shoes in Ireland. I usually buy shoes when on the continent. I really like Veja (mentioned in your article), natural world shoes ( and Bionat ( Natural world shoes are made in Spain and Bionat shoes are made in France. Both of them are very high quality – Bionat even change the soles when too damaged. If I have to buy shoes in Ireland, I usually go for high quality shoes from charity shops. Thanks again for the article.

  2. Nice blog. I’m impressed by the Footwear collection that you have on this web site. Your footwear collection is very beautiful and the latest. Keep sharing information.
    Thank You

  3. Great amount of research. I don’t tend to go through shoes too quickly as I prefer to buy quality that lasts a good few years. The Salt-water Sandals, ladies and kids, can be purchased in Ireland from Quack and Dirk,, Fairview, Dublin 3. Can be purchased online as well.

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