Have you ever pulled out your phone to quickly type “best eco-freindly (insert item here)” in the search bar? We have.
Do you find yourself heading to the “Sustainability” section of a brand’s website (assuming they have one) before purchasing? Maybe you should.
When seasons change and you’re itching for some online retail therapy or you just really do need a new pair of shoes it can be hard not to jump at the first eye-catching targeted ad or email with a catching marketing campaign. Don’t let them win. Unsubscribe from brands you haven’t purchased from in years to avoid temptation. We think that carbon neutral shipping, using renewable energy for operations, avoiding virgin materials, and promoting circularity should be the norm. Until then, we’ll have to support brands that are paving the way with these revolutionary business models.
While the most sustainable option is the one you already own, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite retail brands that seem to really be combatting fast fashion head on. Check out the break down below:
For Your Basics
Girlfriend Collective – A BIPOC-owned, ethical, and size inclusive (XXS – 6XL) active wear brand who creates high quality pieces from recycled ocean plastic. We especially love their underwear, leggings, biker shorts, skorts, sporty bra tops, and sweatsuits that come in fresh earthy tones. Worried about micro-plastics from washing clothes made from synthetic fibers? They are too. They suggest using a washing bag, but they also have a retrofitted microfiber filter that you can attach to your washing machine to catch all those micros from draining out. Their Re-Girlfriend program ensures a closed loop system where you can send back your old Girlfriend pieces to be recycled into new ones. You get $15 credit when you send your stuff back and it gets recycled properly in the United States!
For Days – Here we are again with a brand talking the zero waste talk and actually putting their money where their mouth is. For Days also has a buy back program for textile waste where you fill up a Take Back Bag with clothes from ANY brand (as long as they’re clean/washed) so they can responsibly recycle them and they credit you. They various combinations of materials to create durable basics from tees to sweats made up super soft organic cottons, upcycled cottons, bamboo-based tencel, recycled materials, etc. We love their focus on circularity and commitment to zero waste while offering comfortable and stylish go-to pieces that would be perfect additions to any capsule wardrobe.
Everlane – Dreaming of ethical options that feel luxurious and trendy in a good way? Everlane might be your cup of tea. They strive for transparency in their supply chain and are based out of San Fransisco. They break down the true cost of an item, the materials, and the factory where it was made. We are always happy to see brands providing information that is easy to see on product pages. They seamlessly outline the components of their certified organic cottons, natural rubber, recycled cashmere, recycled plastic bottles, and sustainable denim produced in LEED-certified factory. It’s encouraging to see brands who have outlined clear goals for themselves and create garments with longevity in mind.
Patagonia – You’ve probably heard about Patagonia because they’ve been around for 48 years. They truly revolutionized the way the fashion industry and other industries operate in regards to environmental issues. Patagonia’s founder started the 1% For The Planet organization where businesses from all over the world commit to donating 1% of their sales to non-profits focused on environmental work. Patagonia also served as a leader in becoming one of the first certified B Corporations. To be a certified B Corp, companies must meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. As part of their closed-loop commitments, Patagonia created the Worn Wear program which buys back your gently used Patagonia gear or offer free repairs to your gear to keep it in rotation as long as possible. They were among the first major retailers to implement recycled materials, organic / regenerative organic cotton, hemp and even have a line of food Provisions that is dedicated to regenerative farming practices that sequester CO2 and promotes healthy soil while supporting small farmers. They also created an interactive way for people to get involved with local environmental activism opportunities through their Action Works platform. You can use Action Works to find local petitions to sign, volunteer your skills physically or virtually, donate to non-profits, and more. While you’re browsing their Worn Wear site to pick up a sweet vintage secondhand jacket or checking out their new spring hemp styles be sure to check out their awesome films!
TOMS – If you’ve already owned and loved a pair of TOMS to death then you know why they’ve made the list. If you’ve never heard of TOMS keep reading. For starters, TOMS is a B Corporation who now gives 1/3 of profits to grassroots organizations. You may be familiar with their original One for One model which gave a pair of shoes to someone in need with every pair purchased. While they still do some One for One campaign releases, their growth over the last 15 years has allowed them to shift focus towards giving back to environmental and social justice organizations through direct funding and impact grants. Their classic slip on Alpargata shoe is iconic, but they have expanded their fleet to include flats, wedges/heels, platforms, boots, sandals and sneakers so you can rock TOMS for all occasions They pride themselves on using recycled and natural materials like cork and organic cotton, updated carbon negative outsoles derived from sugarcane, and having many fully vegan options. But, check out their new Earthwise collection that goes that extra step (see what we did there) to deliver their most planet-friendly pairs yet.
Allbirds – Just when we were losing hope that a timeless, comfortable, durable, sustainable sneaker didn’t exist Allbirds popped up. Many eco-friendly shoes in the past have looked a bit granola-y if you know what we mean. Recycled tires, hemp, and natural fibers have been used in shoes for years, but Allbirds really took things up a notch with options that blend with any wardrobe. Their Wool Runners were the first ones we tried (originally secondhand because the price tag was intimidating and finding the right fit can be hard) and we were sold. The extremely soft, ethically-made, machine washable merino wool exterior paired with the cushy insole and bouncy outsole made with carbon negative plant-based materials is a hit. And how could we forget to mention the post-consumer recycled laces and carbon footprint transparency included with all their shoes. Allbirds has added a few new styles to their flock (including the newest Fluffs we’re crushing on) but as a B Corp we see their dedication to delivering a product that you can feel good about because it supports your feet and our planet.
Veja – You might not see these as often as some of the other brands on this list due to the price tag and because they aren’t mainstream yet in the United States. Veja has a passion for ethical shoe-making and uses many recycled materials, natural materials, and materials like rice waste that would otherwise be thrown away. 99% of running shoes on the market are made with petroleum and Veja wants to change that with their Condor running shoes. They also offer a range of retro-inspired white sneakers including some kicks featuring velcro straps and pops of suede. They display some serious drive for ethical and sustainable growth through their vegan shoe line, carbon tracking, fair trade relationships, and transparency as a company. Madewell has recently picked them up as a vendor otherwise you can shop their selection of footwear online.
CARIUMA – If you’re on the hunt for some classic sneakers that give us the perfect surf / skate vibes then you’ll want to check out CARIUMA. Whether you like to sport the high tops (OCA High) or low tops (OCA Low) you’ll be just as excited as we are about their sustainability initiatives. Every pair purchased ensures 2 trees are planted in the Brazilian Rainforest to aid reforestation and preserve natural habitats. They design with longevity and low environmental impact in mind to empower conscious consumers who value quality over quantity. Their transparency to customers about their materials, factories, operations, sustainability goals, and give back efforts is inspiring not to mention their growing list of certifications and carbon neutral shipping. When you find yourself looking for a new pair of timeless kicks you know where to start.
Rothy’s – You may have seen this shoe brand taking social media marketing by force the last couple years as they flaunt their eco-friendly product lines. Rothy’s 3D knit process of weaving marine plastic into comfortable, washable, and durable footwear is changing the game. Their adorable Mary Janes, Flats, and Loafers serve up the office-appropriate sustainable shoe looks that corporate America needed. They offset carbon emissions through a partnership with The Envira Amazonia Project that promotes tropical conservation.