10 Sustainable Sneakers And Eco Trainers We Reviewed For 2023
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There are few things we love more than a good pair of sneakers. Perfect for casual days at the office, running errands around town, or going on weekend adventures, we’re always delighted to find the perfect eco-friendly supportive sneaker. But sustainable sneakers that don’t use virgin plastics or harmful dyes? Not always easy to find (although we love seeing more environmentally friendly shoe brands taking main stage!)
“Some sneakers were everyday winners, others were event-worthy afternoon wears that’ll last a lifetime, but all met various standards for style, sustainability, and fit.”
My team and I at The Good Trade decided to test sneakers from our favorite game-changing sustainable shoe brands to find the pairs that met our standards for both sustainability and style. Each of the below brands passed my two-month wearability test—some were everyday winners, others were event-worthy afternoon wears that’ll last a lifetime, but all met various standards for style, sustainability, and fit. I spent eight weeks swapping from shoe to shoe, finding ways to style each one and determining which ones to wear on my afternoon walks; some were clear winners in each of their respective “best for” categories.
So here’s the roundup of all my faves, including notes on each one (since everyone’s feet are different, there are always pros and cons for individual footwear!) If you have any questions about the styles I tested, I’m happy to answer in the comments below.
Looking for more styles, including shoes for work and special occasions? Here are our favorite shoes from sustainable brands.
Best For | Affordable sneakers that slip on easily
Price Range | $95–$145
“Made from Nature” is the motto over at Allbirds. These sneakers are made with high-quality, sustainable materials, including ZQ Merino Wool (the world’s leading ethical wool brand), eucalyptus tree fibers, and recycled plastic shoelaces.
I tested the Wool Piper in blue hush, a gorgeous frosty blue on the outside with a lining of grey wool around the ankle and on the sole that makes them super cozy. These shoes are really lightweight, have a little extra room for folks with wider feet (but not too bad for my skinny feet either!) The shoe also doesn’t feel super flat, thanks to a bit of extra spring in the insole that adds lift and support without getting too bulky. I really appreciated that there was a little bit of grip on the soles—I always had the hardest time finding cute shoes to wear on icy winter days when I lived in the midwestern US.
Allbirds make a great alt for Nike FlyKnits, if you’d rather stick with the brand’s flagship runners (I have those and love those, too!)
Best For | Shoes to wear during (and after) runs
Price Range | $130–$270
On’s CloudTec is what you get when you want to put a patent on comfort—the soles help reduce muscle fatigue so you can run longer, farther, faster. And they’re eco-friendly, too, using materials like CleanCloud, which is made from carbon emissions.
I wanted to experience the most lift and cushion possible (especially due to my osteopenia which means my bones are a little fragile), so I opted for the Cloudmonster. The shoes make me feel like I’m gliding, and they’re my favorite on this list to reach for when I head out on walks or a jog. I was hesitant about the style at first, as I’m forever emerging from the chunky-sneaker-style-trauma that was the 1990s, but as soon as I pulled these shoes onto my feet I was in heaven. I immediately started hopping around my apartment, enjoying their bounce. They’re great for my narrow feet (but stretchy enough for wider feet) and can be worn with or without socks.
If you’re nostalgic for the days of Skechers and New Balance, these shoes will take you back—and move you forward, fast, thanks to how comfy they are.
3. Thousand Fell
Best For | Streetwear sneakers
Price Range | $155
Thousand Fell makes the first-ever recycled and recyclable sneakers, making this full-circle brand a top addition to our list! These shoes are made with materials like recycled water bottles, sugar cane, and coconut husk—no leather needed.
I tried the grey and yellow Court sneaker and it looks even better in person if that’s possible. The shoes are sturdy, flexible while still staying structured, and offer arch support. I feel like a new person in these shoes, especially with how streetwear-inspired they feel. I’ve found this is one of the easier lace-ups on the list to just slip right into, and fits well with or without socks (although can be a little moist without, but never stinky thanks to the aloe vera liner). If you have super wide feet, I would recommend double checking the measurements on these shoes before purchasing. I’m excited about the circularity offering, and hope to keep wearing Thousand Fells for a long, long time.
If you’ve ever had a go-to pair of Adidas, I recommend Thousand Fell for when it’s time to replace your old pair.
4. Flamingos Life
Best For | Retro vegan sneakers & high tops
Price Range | $165–$195
Flamingos Life is a Spanish sneaker brand (that ships worldwide) committed to transparency and innovative materials. The shoes are completely vegan, and the brand releases limited runs of decade-inspired shoes that take us on a walk down memory lane.
I tested the Old 80s All White high top and immediately channeled style icon Marty McFly from Back To The Future 2—these shoes are (mc)fly as heck. The terrycloth interior on the ankle is an especially nice touch, reminiscent of 80s sweat bands. They’re comfy and well-fitted, although if you’re not used to wearing this style I’d recommend a test run or two before you wear them all day! (No blisters, just to get used to them.) One note on this style in particular—it takes a minute to pull on and off, even with narrow feet, so I’d avoid high tops in general if you need to be able to slip on shoes and go in a timely fashion. *Cue B roll of Emily rolling around on the floor trying to pull these shoes on.*
If you love the look of retro Nike and Reebok cushioned high tops, Flamingos Life has you covered (you can’t go wrong with any of their sneakers, though). It also has the perk of not being as common of a household brand name which gets extra cool points in my book.
Best For | Classic sneaker style
Price Range | $79–$169
Launched in 2018, Cariuma is a relative newcomer that’s making big waves in the sneaker world. The brand creates a well-developed core line of shoes (no “new drops” weekly) using materials like certified organic cotton, OEKO-TEX certified bamboo, and plastics that meet the Global Recycled Standard.
I’ve seen Cariuma ads everywhere, so I was curious if these shoes would be as comfortable and long-lasting as they positioned themselves to be. After I’ve worn the OCA Low for a couple months, I have one thing to say to the creators behind these sneakers: No notes. The shoe is durable, the cork insole is extremely comfortable, and these shoes had zero break in time. They’ve been my favorite to slip on without socks, thanks to not having too plush or too slick of an insole. I also really liked that these sneakers were delivered in a single box to reduce packaging waste. Okay, I do have one note—the logo on the heel and tongue of the shoe is a pretty bright green, so keep that in mind when picking your favorite color.
If you love Superga, Keds, or Converse (maybe you grew up wearing the Payless Shoes version of Converse, like me), your feet will be so happy in a pair of comfy Cariumas.
Best For | Instantly recognizable cool-girl shoes
Price Range | $140–$270
You’ve probably heard of VEJA shoes by now—and for good reason. These sneakers are designed in Paris, France with eco-friendly materials and some vegan options, including wild rubber from the Amazon and organic cotton and have been spotted on celebrities and influencers worldwide.
I’ve had my suede VEJA V-10s for the longest out of any of the pairs on this list (at least two years now), and I can assure you they only get better the more you wear them. I’ve put this pair, which is a colorway that’s no longer sold, through a lot and they’re still holding up beautifully. I love the combo of a thick, sturdy sole with a thin tongue, which makes them comfy and versatile for a range of feet widths. While I didn’t have any huge issues with the break-in period, I do have a friend who dealt with a rough start with the velcro pair. My advice is to make sure you give yourself a little room (size up if you’re in between sizes/half sizes), and wear socks with these shoes, at least to start with.
These shoes are everywhere on Insta and Pinterest style boards! If you want the immediate brand recognition of brands like Nike or Adidas but with a sustainable twist—Veja is the brand for you.
7. Native Shoes
Best For | Affordable family footwear and vacation shoes
Price Range | $85–$110
Native Shoes creates ultra-light, ergonomic, innovative sneakers. Whether it’s using recycled polyester or upcycled EVA foam, the casual styles aim to reduce excess fabric and keep waste to a minimum.
I’ve had several pairs of Native shoes over the years, and was excited to test the Jefferson Future Nostalgia style for this review. The Jefferson is super shock-absorbent and fits my narrow feet well as far as slip ons go. These shoes are vegan and made using EVA, an odor-resistant and washable plastic (the brand does have a recycling program, which is nice). I do also like that the brand is working on more products made using Bloom, their patented algae-based material. Hot climate folks, don’t worry—I tested out walking on searing asphalt over the summer and they will not melt like I was worried they might. This is the go-to brand for busy people who are prone to spills, stepping in puddles, and forgetting socks (so no wonder I keep coming back to it).
Native Shoes look like the sustainable lovechild of Crocs and Converse, so if you like those brands you might find your next pair of shoes here. And since this is one of the most affordable brands on the list (and the shoes are stretchy), it’s a great choice for families with growing kiddos.
Best For | Minimalist long-lasting sneakers
Price Range | $130
Certified B Corp Nisolo offers classic low-tops for men and women, and you can choose from responsibly sourced leather and recycled eco-knit fabric. Handcrafted in Peru, Mexico, and Kenya using long-held traditions, Nisolo ensures that its team receives living wages, benefits, and skill development opportunities.
I tested the Everyday Sneaker, which quickly caught my attention as one of the most subtle, sophisticated pairs on this list. The durable materials, waxed laces, and the gold-toned rivets make these shoes really stand out. You will need a bit of patience when it comes to breaking these shoes in—don’t wear them for a full day fresh out of the box (and maybe use blister pads like these). The more you wear them, the better they’ll get, but at first keep the wears short, like for meetings, lunch dates, and happy hours. These fit slightly narrow on me (and other reviewers), so if you’re on the fence between sizes or want to wear socks with them I recommend opting for a half size larger
If you’re reminiscing about how cute your Keds were with dresses, wishing they would have lasted a little longer—Nisolo has the enduring solution for you.
Best For | Affordable and comfortable sneakers
Price Range | $35–$80
TOMS has been beloved and celebrated all over the world for its popular one-for-one charitable model. Today, the brand gives away one-third of its profits to grassroots causes like ending gun violence and funding access to mental health resources.
I tested the Fenix lace-up sneaker, and was excited to slip back into a pair of TOMS (I wore the brand’s pink glitter alpargatas for my wedding). These shoes rival Cariuma on the comfort level, minus a little bit of arch support, and I find myself frequently reaching for them when I have to walk long distances. To be honest they weren’t my favorite style, because of the slightly waxy matte canvas outer and oversized rubber toe cap (although the color is A++). BUT, they do get a big checkmark in my book for comfort and affordability, especially since the brand runs sales. I’d most recommend them for back-to-school teens and college students who want to wander campus all day without their feet doing that weird burning thing. One more heads up—this style runs a bit bigger than typical TOMS, so keep that in mind when choosing.
If you like, well, TOMS—this is the brand for you! But these shoes are also great for folx on a budget who are looking for youthful, comfortable shoes that will look great with any casual outfit.
10. Oliver Cabell
Best For | Casual-cool workplace leather sneakers
Price Range | $212–$320
Oliver Cabell is passionate about making timeless footwear, mixing old-school methods with modern-day technology. Each bespoke pair is made with quality materials and hand-stitched in Italy, taking days to complete.
I was impressed by Oliver Cabell’s range of styles, and kept circling back to the glitter, print, and metallic offerings. For the purposes of this review, though, I stuck with a more neutral black and white low sneaker. These sneakers are easily the most expensive-looking on the list (also they are the most expensive), so they get big points for style. The laces are the perfect length to let sit untied, which looks cool and makes the shoes easy to get on and off. As a heads up, brand’s shoes do come with deliberate wear (think: distressed denim), but I found that helped me be a bit less precious about these investment sneaks! On the fit end, though, I found these Oliver Cabell shoes to be a little heavy, run a bit large, and are extremely flat. If you need a high level of support or comfort, these might not be the shoes for you—but if you’re on the flatter-footed end, these could be the perfect fit.
Oliver Cabell shoes are ideal for the sneakerhead and the fashion-forward; if you like the look of Converse with blazers, this is absolutely the place to start your sneaker search.
Emily Torres is the Editorial Director at The Good Trade. Born and raised in Indiana, she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her in her colorful Los Angeles apartment journaling, caring for her rabbits, or gaming.