The Most Sustainable Sneaker Brands

Sneakers are a go-to shoe for casual wear. The best sneakers are comfortable, durable, and stylish. They should also be sustainable. Sustainability in the shoe space is notoriously tricky because shoes require multiple materials which makes for complex material sourcing and even more complex recycling. ‍

But there are some great sneaker brands out there putting in the work to source, manufacture and ship more sustainable sneakers, and keep them in use for as long as possible. To choose the most sustainable sneaker brands, we vetted brands based on transparency, carbon emissions measurement and reduction efforts, material selection, and business model. We also looked into ethical labor, packaging and waste, and other environmental efforts. Based on these criteria, we ranked brands as Good, Better, Best or Avoid.


-->  Our Top Picks
--> How We Evaluate Brands
--> Brands to Avoid

Before You Buy: Before you buy new sneakers, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Could your current sneakers be mended to your liking? Maybe you can take them to a cobbler.
  • Do you have a friend or neighbor who has sneakers that could suit your needs? You could reach out in your local Buy Nothing group.
  • Could you find great sneakers secondhand? Try a secondhand store or marketplace.

Commons’ Top Pick

Veja
Classic sneaker brand with a sustainable supply chain.

  • Commons Rating: Best
  • Price: starting at $135
  • Locations: HQ in France; manufacturing in Brazil
  • Transparency: The VEJA Project

Veja's signature "V" , is a signature on its full line of sneakers. The sneaker collection offers variety in color and style — from casual to athletic — all while maintaining a classic, timeless style.

Since 2004, the VEJA team has worked to make every part of the brand's product and supply chain as sustainable as possible. Veja's industry-leading efforts in emissions management and ethical sourcing make them our top pick.

In 2019, VEJA contracted with UTOPIES to measure and analyze the greenhouse gas emissions from its entire supply chain and operations, delivering a detailed report, revealing its hotspots, and building an emissions reduction strategy. VEJA also traces most of its supply chain and transparently shares the names, locations, and contracts of their producers which is rare. The company works to source the most sustainable materials via pre-paid agreements with suppliers which ensure pay visibility. While they haven’t perfected everything quite yet, Veja is making standout progress with organic cotton, bio-based vegan leather alternatives, LWG certified leather, natural Amazonian rubber, and recycled materials.

In a particularly striking move, the brand has eliminated advertising and marketing, instead choosing to invest its money into their supply chain partners. Veja also opened repair and recycling stores in five locations in Europe and the US.

Commons Community Reviews

Reviews from Commons users who have bought from Veja.

Quality: ★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★

Pros: They're stylish and look great. I wore them a lot, definitely every week, and they lasted me for about 2 years. Got lots of compliments.

Cons: I was hoping they'd last longer. But I'm not sure that's realistic for regular-wear use sneakers? Also, they were pretty comfortable, but pinched my toes a bit at the top. By the end of their life, it kind of hurt my pinky toes to wear them.

—  SP, June 2024. SP wore Veja sneakers a few times a week from 2021-2023.

Comfort Pick

Allbirds
Comfortable shoes, flats, and clothing made with natural materials

  • Commons Rating: Best
  • Price: starting at $90
  • Locations: HQ in U.S.; manufacturing in South Korea
  • Transparency: 2022 Flight Plan

Allbirds debuted with its iconic wool sneakers in 2016. Since then, its sneakers offering has expanded across fabrics and materials, while keeping its rounded, signature silhouette and low-impact fabrics made from things like wool, sugarcane, and trees.

From material selection to energy procurement, Allbirds continues to be an industry leader in reducing the emissions of sneakers. As a Climate Neutral Certified brand, Allbirds measures, reports, and offsets the full emissions associated with its operations and supply chain. The brand also has an open-sourced a carbon footprinting tool to encourage other sneaker brands to measure the impact of their products.

To push the industry even further, Allbirds will be releasing their first net zero carbon shoe in 2024, using regenerative wool, bio-based midsole foam, innovative bioplastic, and sugarcane-based packaging.

While Allbirds' emission reporting is thorough, we’d like to see the brand share more information about its ethical labor practices, such as Fair Trade certification and evidence of a living wage. Of the sneaker brands we evaluated, the Commons community reviewed Allbirds’ products as the most comfortable, which was a chief complaint for other sneakers.

Commons Community Reviews

Reviews from Commons users who have bought from Allbirds.

Quality: ★★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★★

Pros:
Super comfortable, super light and recyclable!
Cons:
none

— Jeffrey M., June 2024 Jeffrey has worn Allbirds sneakers a few times a week since April 2021.

Quality: ★★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★★

Pros:
The shoes are simple yet very comfortable!
Cons:
none

— Daniel L., June 2024 Daniel has worn Allbirds sneakers a few times a week since 2024.

Quality: ★★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★★

Pros:
High quality, very comfortable and easy to slide on/off
Cons:
If I had to go back, I would have picked a color other than white since it now appears dirty

— Christopher S., June 2024 Christopher has worn Allbirds sneakers a few times a week since April 2024.

Other brands we recommend

Best Brands

Nisolo (U.S.): Nisolo’s operations and supply chain is certified Climate Neutral. They also share the environmental impacts of each of their products with customers through an easy-to-understand Sustainability Facts Label. They are deeply committed to ethical labor practices, with a robust program that includes 100% living wages in their Tier 1 suppliers, established health and safety assurances, and ILO-aligned Supplier Code of Conduct, gender equality, provision of healthcare and other benefits, and a racial justice program. Despite earnest effort, Nisolo has yet to identify a suitable non-plastic-based alternative to leather across their product line. However, they only source leather that is a by-product of the food system from Leather Working Group Certified tanneries.

Etiko (Australia): The Converse-style sneakers from Etiko are a great option for folks outside the U.S., as Etiko is based in Australia. Most Commons readers are based in the U.S. which is the only reason Etiko isn’t a top pick. Etiko measures and reports their greenhouse gas emissions and is Fairtrade International certified, B-Corp certified, and Social Traders Certified. Their sneakers use 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton and all-natural biodegradable rubber. They publicly trace their supply chain through their Tier 4 suppliers and work to ensure a living wage.

Better Brands

Thousand Fell (U.S.): Thousand Fell is pursuing two of the most important steps for reducing the climate impacts of their shoes: (1) emphasizing circularity and designing for recyclability, and (2) selecting eco-friendly materials that are natural, biodegradable, and/or recyclable. They also avoid plastic packaging. Commons would like to see more information shared on their company’s carbon footprint, efforts to reduce waste and switch to renewable energy in their manufacturing, and their ethical labor practices.

Quality: ★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★★

Pros:
They are really comfortable, easy to clean, and they can handle rain well!
Cons:
They don’t hold up for a long time and don’t have a lot of cushion.

— Anna F., June 2024 Anna has worn Thousand Fell sneakers a few times a week since 2024.

Rothy’s (U.S.): Rothy’s has taken impressive strides to limit the climate impact of their company and their products. They use lower-impact materials, like upcycled water bottles, algae-based foam, bio-based materials, and natural rubber. Their factor is also LEED Gold and TRUE Zero Waste Platinum certified, and they use minimal, 100% recyclable packaging. They also have an in-store recycling program, which deconstructs shoes to give give the materials a new life. Commons would like to see Rothy’s report on their carbon emissions and share more details on their supply chain and how they ensure ethical labor practices.

Quality: ★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★★

Pros:
Love Rothy's fit and fund patterns but mainly the fact that they are made fro plastic bottles!
Cons:
You typically wear them without socks and they can get stinky 😅 I heard about this from a friend too. But you can wash them in your washing machine, very easy.

— Liza M., June 2024 Anna has worn Rothy's sneakers a few times a month since 2021.

Cariuma (Brazil): We like that Cariuma is integrating eco-friendly and bio-based materials into their shoes, like organic cotton, FSC-certified bamboo, sugarcane, cork, and recycled nylon and PET. We also appreciate that their leather is sourced from LWG Gold-rated suppliers to ensure the cattle are not associated with deforestation. We’d like to see Cariuma measure and report their emissions, engage in more circular programs, and disclose the percent breakdown of the materials used across their product line.

Quality: ★★★★★ Recommend to a friend: ★★★★

Pros:
Stylish and sustainable
Cons:
Comfort. They are comfortable for a flat sole shoe, but not for long walks for me personally.

— Celena C., June 2024 Celena has worn Cariuma sneakers a few times a month since March 2024.

Quality: ★ Recommend to a friend: ★

Pros:
Sustainable and ethical
Cons:
Comfortability and the Cariuma team. I have high arches and wide feet; this did not provide any sufficient support for my high arches and it hurt my wife feet (despite sizing up). Their team at Cariuma has significant customer service flaws and I had to report off to them one too many times on errors and emails. Never will buy from them again; I had to block their emails.

— Alyssia., June 2024 Alyssia has worn Cariuma sneakers everyday for the past 2-3 years.

How We Evaluate Brands

Commons helps people tap into the power of their collective spending choices to lower global emissions. When we evaluate brands, we’re carefully evaluating the actions they’re taking to meaningfully measure and minimize the carbon emissions associated with their products.

Transparent Supply Chains and Reporting

Openness and transparency encourage trust and build accountability. We review publicly available information, including sustainability reports, supply chain partner information, certifications, and partnerships. If this information isn’t available, we don’t include these brands in our top picks.

Emissions Tracking

We look for brands that measure and share the footprint of their company and/or products. When a company understands what its biggest emissions drivers are, it can make plans to address these drivers while also demonstrating progress against these plans. This involves:

  • Measuring their footprint, ideally in collaboration with a third-party partner.
  • Reporting their footprint publicly, ideally sharing the breakdown of their carbon drivers.
  • Taking ownership of their emissions by compensating their footprint with verified, high-quality offsets.

Meaningful Carbon Reduction Efforts

We look for actions that address the most important drivers of the company’s footprint. For clothing, this includes:

Materials: Certifications are important to understand the sustainability of a material and its processing. A couple of key ones we look for are:

  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): A processing standard for organic fibers that tracks the entire supply chain with environmental and social criteria.
  • Global Recycled Standard (GRS): A voluntary product standard for tracking and verifying the content of recycled materials in a final product. This is especially prevalent for brands using recycled plastic bottles.
  • We also consider how shoe brands source leather and/or rubber.

Energy: We look for brands using renewable energy and/or engaging with their supply chain partners to support decarbonization of their facilities and manufacturing processes.

Slow or Circular Business Models

Our fashion brand top picks fundamentally shift from fast fashion towards slow fashion and circularity. Evidence of slow or circular business models include:

  • Offering take back and/or recycling programs for their products.
  • Recycling or upcycling fabric scraps, rather than letting them go to waste.
  • Focusing on timeless pieces and infrequent collection releases instead of pushing trends.
  • Engaging in made-to-order or batch manufacturing.

Community and Environmental Efforts

Although we prioritize carbon-related criteria in our rankings, there are other important factors that determine how a brand treats people and the planet. Some of these include:

  • Labor and ethics: Fair Trade certifications and a comprehensive Supplier Code of Conduct (audit for factors like a living wage and safe working conditions)
  • Packaging and waste: plastic-free, FSC-certified packaging that is recyclable and recycled
  • Other community and environmental efforts: This can include donation programs with nonprofit partners, projects that uplift communities near their supply chain partners, and more.

Commons’ Brand Ratings

  • Best: Best brands are measuring, reporting, and actively reducing their emissions. They don’t have to be perfect, but they must have evidence of progress and of tailored strategies to continually improve their footprint.
  • Better: Brands must meet more than one of our climate-related criteria. For example, a brand may not be measuring its footprint, but they are making earnest efforts to address the common drivers of emissions for clothing companies.
  • Good: Brands must meet at least one of our climate-related criteria.
  • Avoid: Brands that meet none of our climate-related criteria.

Brands to Avoid

  • Amazon Fashion
  • ASOS
  • Fashion Nova
  • GAP
  • Garage
  • H&M
  • Old Navy
  • Primark
  • Shein
  • Temu
  • Topshop
  • UNIQLO
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Zara


For a more expansive list of fast fashion brands, check here.

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