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12 Sustainable Flats, Loafers & Mules That Will Keep Your Feet And The Planet Happy

 

image: Vivaia

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Eco-Friendly FLATS, LOAFERS & MULES

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a good pair of high-quality flats in my shoe collection. These are always very easy to wear with most outfits, whether we want to look more put together or casual. 

Ballet flats, loafers and mules are also effortless to slip on and off, making them the perfect shoes for our daily activities. 

However, it is nowadays difficult to find quality flats that are made to last. Those sold by fast fashion brands often wear down after a couple of months and quickly become yet another wasted pair of shoes that will sit in a landfill. Plus, they are usually produced under unethical conditions and made with unsustainable materials. 

Fortunately, some brands are making things differently. These are brands that care about their workers and how their products impact the environment. 

I have selected 12 of the most sustainable flats, loafers and mules, so you can finally get your hands, or should I say your feet, on some high-quality shoes that do not harm the planet.  

WHAT MAKES FLATS, LOAFERS AND MULES SUSTAINABLE?

One of the most important factors to take into account when shopping for flats, loafers, or mules is that they should be durable and built to last for many years. 

Of course, make sure to pick shoes that you love, that fit you, and that are comfortable so that you will actually want to wear them. 

The brand should also be transparent about where and how the shoes are produced, and make them using sustainable materials. Workers in the supply chain should be paid a fair, living wage and work in a safe environment. 

WHAT ECO-FRIENDLY MATERIALS SHOULD YOU SEARCH FOR?

Sustainable flats, loafers and mules are usually made from natural or recycled materials, such as recycled plastic or plant-based fibers. Some brands also use apple leather produced from discarded apple peels, which is a great vegan alternative to leather. 

If used for many years, vegetable-tanned leather sourced from tanneries certified by the Leather Working Group can also be a more eco-friendly material compared to many others. Leather is extremely durable and can last for decades if taken care of properly. 

The soles can be made from recycled rubber, recycled plastic, and even from cork, algae, sugarcane, or other plant-based materials. 

OUR TOP PICKS FOR HIGH-QUALITY, SUSTAINABLE FLATS, LOAFERS & MULES

1) Margot 2.0 Square-Toe V-Cut Flats

Brand: Vivaia

Materials: Recycled Plastic, Hemp, Rubber

Price: $97-139

The Margot 2.0 flats sold by Vivaia are the perfect everyday shoes you can wear at work, to run errands, or to walk in the park. Designed in more than ten colors, they are breathable and very practical as you can put them in your washing machine when they get dirty.

They are also extremely flexible, meaning that they can easily fit in your handbag.

Vivaia’s flats are produced from six plastic water bottles that were saved from the ocean, and the slip-resistant outsole is made of natural rubber. 

The flats’ insoles contain Artemisia Argyi, a plant that helps inhibit bacterial growth and keep your feet fresh even in the heat and humidity. 

With its arch support and cushioning, walking with the Margot 2.0 feels like wearing sneakers, and its heel padding prevents you from having blisters! 

We also love that the brand ships them in packaging made of 100% recycled cardboard.

Shop Margot Square Flats

2) Vegan Women’s Slip-On Loafers

Brand: Will’s Vegan Store

Materials: Vegan Suede, Recycled Rubber

Price: $90-108

Will’s Vegan Store creates beautiful loafers that are ideal for everyday wear and special occasions. They have small 0.4-inch heels and grippy outsoles that are designed to last for a long time. 

You can choose between three different models: a classic black one, as well as blue or black jacquard loafers with a lovely floral pattern.  

These slip-on loafers are made from Italian vegan suede that received the Ecolabel certification and meets Oeko Tex Standard 100 and REACH regulations. The inside of the shoes is lined with soft vegan suede, and the insoles are produced from recycled rubber. 

Made in Portugal, the loafers are certified carbon-neutral, and they are shipped to you in paper and cardboard packaging. 

At the end of their life, you can send them back and Will’s Vegan Store will give them a new life by turning them into new outsoles and uppers. 

Shop Vegan Slip-On Loafers

3) The Point

Brand: Rothy’s 

Materials: Recycled Plastic

Price: $145

The Point flats are slip-ons that you can wear year-round to elevate your outfits. These are versatile pointed-toe flats that are so comfortable that you will not even have to break them in! They feature a soft, flexible knit made from the brand’s signature thread, spun from 11 recycled plastic bottles.

Each shoe also has durable outsoles, comfortable insoles, and a V-shaped vamp. 

Rothy’s offers them in 28 colors, including a few bold colors and several unique patterns that will make them stand out from the other pairs of flats you may have. The back of each shoe also has the brand’s signature blue halo. 

The Point flats are fully machine washable whenever they need a refresh, so you will be able to keep them for a long time.

Rothy’s makes its shoes using an innovative knitting technique that helps avoid the 30% of material waste usually generated in traditional “cut and sew” production! 

Shop The Point Flat

4) Black Apple Leather House Mules

Brand: Dooeys (on Made Trade’s website)

Materials: Apple Leather, Recycled Plastic, Latex, Cork, Sugarcane 

Price: $142

These house mules, crafted by Dooeys and sold on Made Trade’s website, are comfy slippers that are easy to slip on and off during the day when you are at home. 

Very stylish, they can be dressed up or dressed down, and their cushioned insoles provide the support you need for your daily activities. 

Dooeys’ house mules are made from natural, plant-based, and recycled materials. They feature a vegan apple leather upper, sugarcane soles, a recycled plastic lining, and footbeds made of cork and natural latex. 

The mules are crafted in an ethical workshop based in Portugal, and they are made in small batches to prevent unnecessary waste. 

Buying mules from Dooeys means that you are supporting a woman-owned company that regularly gives back to environmental organizations and offsets its carbon emissions from shipping. 

Made Trade is also climate-neutral certified, so you can feel good about your purchase!

Shop Apple Leather Mules

5) Taylor Matte Jelly Ballet Flats

Brand: Oka-B

Materials: Soy-Based Materials, Recycled Materials

Price: $42

With its Taylor jelly flats, Oka-B proves that shoes do not have to be expensive to be sustainable and comfortable. Not only are these shoes very affordable, but they are also made with comfort and the planet in mind! They are classic ballet flats with a soft, matte finish, and they are designed for a wide range of foot shapes.

They provide arch support and feature soothing massage beads and a heel cup to improve stability and comfort. 

Oka-B flats are made from a blend of scrap materials, used shoes, and the brand’s proprietary bio-based material produced from 45% US-grown soy. The material is waterproof, flexible, and slip-resistant. 

The Taylor jelly flats are made-to-order in Oka-B’s family-owned factory located in Georgia, USA. When you are done with them, you can send them back and the company will make sure they get recycled. 

Shop Taylor Jelly Flats

use code SUSTAINABLYCHIC10 for 10% off

6) The Vicky

Brand: Veerah

Materials: Apple Leather, Organic Cotton, Algae Foam 

Price: $228

These chic flats, crafted by sustainable footwear brand Veerah, have an asymmetric cut and a pointed-toe silhouette, making them very elegant and a staple piece for your wardrobe.

Designed for walking, they provide sneaker-like comfort, so you can easily wear them all day long. 

The Vicky flats are ethically crafted from apple leather, a USDA-certified bio-based leather made from upcycled apple peels. Available in brown, red, black, or metallic gold, they are colored using non-toxic, organic pigments. 

Veerah’s flats also feature an organic cotton sock lining and impact-absorbing insoles made of algae biomass. Since algae blooms can be very harmful to aquatic ecosystems, using them to create these flats helps save 11 gallons of filtered water and keep eight balloons of CO2 out of the atmosphere! 

The Vicky flats are 100% cruelty-free and vegan, and as a public benefit corporation, Veerah regularly donates at least 1% of its revenue to social impact causes. 

Shop The Vicky

7) Diane Loafers

Brand: Able

Materials: Leather, Brass, Nickel

Price: $58

The Diane loafers you can buy from Able will be a great addition to your shoe collection! They are handmade in Brazil, marrying style, support and comfort. 

These square-toe shoes are available in two different models, both of which are made of cow-based leather and come with a lifetime guarantee.  

The black Napa loafers feel buttery to the touch and give off a light sheen, which makes them look polished and elegant. And the Pony Haircalf shoes are white loafers with brown spots that add a lot of personality to any outfit. 

Both models feature padded insoles, a leather lining, tiny leather stacked heels, and antique brass or brushed nickel hardware, making them even more unique.   

Able produces the Diane loafers using high-quality leather that is upcycled from discarded animal hides. The brand also works with leather partners who have taken steps to minimize material waste and use a 100% recycled, closed-loop water system. 

Shop Diane Loafers

8) Black Ballet Flats With Black Velvet Marie Straps

Brand: Alterre

Materials: Recycled Plastic, Leather, Rubber

Price: $225

With their comfortable low heels, these black ballet flats sold by Alterre will make you look very elegant while keeping your feet happy. If you want a more unique style, you can customize them with the black velvet straps they come with, so you can wear them in two different ways!

Produced in Brazil, Alterre’s flats are made of chrome-free leather and have durable rubber soles and cushioned midsoles that provide all-day comfort. 

The brand reduces its leather and plastic waste by using a laser cutter to make its shoes and by crafting all of its heels from recycled plastic. 

Striving to reduce its environmental footprint as much as possible, Alterre also sources its leathers and other materials locally and works with suppliers certified by the Leather Working Group.  

The company has even been awarded the Butterfly Mark from Positive Luxury for its commitment to sustainability, and it donates 5% of its profits to Restore NYC to help them fight sex trafficking. 

Shop Ballet Flats with Velvet Straps

9) Emma d’Orsay Oxfords

Brand: Nisolo

Materials: Leather, Rubber

Price: $160

These Emma oxfords crafted by Nisolo are d’Orsay shoes that will make you look incredibly refined, chic, and put together.

Their timeless and versatile design is made to elevate any outfit! 

Sold in four neutral colors, these are classic, convenient shoes to have as a fashion staple. They are easy to slip on, built to last, and can be worn all year round. 

Nisolo’s oxfords feature waterproof leather uppers with an internal elastic stretch, stacked leather heels, slip-free rubber heel caps, and vegetable-tanned leather soles. They also have cushioned insoles with added shock absorption, as well as breathable leather-lined interiors. 

All the leather used to make the Emma d’Orsay shoes comes from a tannery that is certified by the Leather Working Group. 

Thanks to its numerous initiatives to reduce its environmental footprint, Nisolo has become a top-rated Certified B Corporation and is climate-neutral certified. It also received the highest score in Remake’s 2021 Accountability Report

Shop Emma d’Orsay Oxfords

10) Tree Breezers

Brand: Allbirds

Materials: Eucalyptus Tree Fiber, Sugarcane, Castor Bean Oil, Merino Wool

Price: $100

Sustainable footwear brand Allbirds created a lightweight, breathable pair of ballet flats made with natural, renewable materials. You can pick between the various colors available, from classic neutrals to bold, bright colors. The Tree Breezers are flexible and completely machine washable, and they have a ribbed collar to ensure a perfect fit.

They are made from Allbirds’ proprietary silky smooth knit, which is produced from eucalyptus tree fiber sourced from FSC-certified forests. 

Sustainably crafted, the flats’ bouncy outsoles are made of SweetFoam, a carbon-negative EVA obtained from sugarcane. Allbirds also uses ZQ merino wool and castor bean oil to create its insoles, which are designed to minimize odors and have moisture-wicking properties.

We love that the brand is very transparent and discloses how much CO2 is generated for the production of the Tree Breezers. Allbirds also makes sure to offset this footprint, making these flats entirely carbon-neutral! 

Shop Tree Breezers

11) Naomi Loafers

Brand: Sézane

Materials: Leather, Rubber

Price: $245

The Naomi loafers sold by Sézane are lovely braided moccasins crafted in smooth, brown leather. Produced in the brand’s Spanish atelier, the upper is handwoven and features a beautiful pattern that will make them stand out from all your other shoes. They are a great, versatile wardrobe staple as they can be worn with jeans and a t-shirt on a casual day, or with a cute dress for a more polished look.

They are ideal to wear in the spring and summer! 

The Naomi loafers are made from vegetable-tanned goatskin leather. They have rubber outsoles and 0.4-inch leather laminated heels, and the internal soles and lining are made of sheep leather.  

Sézane is B Corp certified so it is an awesome brand to support, and it ships its products in recycled or FSC-certified cardboard packaging. It also has a recycling program and has raised over 4.5 million euros for its philanthropic program DEMAIN, supporting fair access to education. 

Shop Naomi Loafers

12) Uchi Flats in Tannat

Brand: ZOU XOU

Materials: Leather, Rubber

Price: $290

Ethical footwear brand ZOU XOU designed brown, square-toe flats that can be worn year-round with multiple outfit combinations. Whether you choose to pair them with a feminine dress or classic trousers with a button-down shirt, you will always look amazing in them!  The Uchi flats are made of deep burgundy glazed leather and feature a faux tortoise shell buckle that adds personality to the whole shoe. 

They have rubber outsoles, leather midsoles and stacked heels, and an interior lining made from vegetable-tanned leather. All these materials are selected for their durability to make sure the Uchi flats are designed to last for many years. 

ZOU XOU’s shoes are handmade in Argentina using old-school techniques, and they are produced on-demand or in small batches to avoid overproduction and waste. Most of the leathers the brand uses are sourced from tanneries specialized in vegetable tanning or certified by the Leather Working Group. 

ZOU XOU also has an incredibly ethical business model in which the artisans establish their own wages and work in healthy, safe environments. 

Shop Uchi Flats

About the Author

Eva Astoul is a French freelance writer, specializing in content related to sustainability, simple living, and a growth-focused healthy lifestyle. She runs her own blog, Green With Less, to inspire people to live a more minimalist and sustainable life.


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