Truly “sustainable” items are those whose production can be sustained into the future without harming people (via unsafe working conditions, toxic materials, etc.) or the planet (via carbon emissions, pollution, harmful resource extraction, etc.).
Buying new products is almost always less sustainable than buying ones that have already been created. But with something like shoes—which we all need to get around but aren’t as popular on the secondhand market—it can be tricky to avoid. That’s where being a savvy shopper can help you find a new shoe that at least has a lower impact than other options.
As a sustainability editor, these are the criteria I look for in a kicks company that’s actually putting its energy into making more sustainable shoes, not just greenwashing. It’s rare that one brand is able to tick every one of these boxes, but plenty of the options on our list are well on their way.