8 Sustainable Sneaker Brands You Need To Know

By GQ Staff
14 February 2019

Make your footprint on this planet a little lighter with these sustainable kicks

As we are all becoming increasingly aware, some of the greatest technology solutions on earth are those found in the natural world. And as more and more individuals start to realise the importance of protecting our planet, companies are catching on and looking for innovative ways to manufacture quality products ethically and sustainably.

Whilst the heavy-weight sneaker brands may be trailing behind in the movement, it hasn’t stopped a select few from making their products the most sustainable on the market.

To help relieve your conscience and lighten your footprint on the planet, we’ve rounded up the best sustainable sneaker brands for your ethical shopping.


Allbirds looks to mother nature to provide materials, and their staple is sugarcane. For those not in the know, sugarcane is so self-sufficient that when it’s processed, its biomass is extracted to literally power the mill and fertilise the next year’s crop.

Allbirds have managed to transform the material into their SweetFoam show sole, which counters to your feet for bouncy comfort.

The sugarcane used to make SweetFoam is sourced from southern Brazil, where it relies on rainwater, not irrigation. As well as being sustainable, Allbirds are also ethical as the sourcing of their materials is put to rigorous standards that protect both the people and the environment. The standards have been developed by Proforest, and the farms are audited by a third party.

The quirky growing brand is a certified B-Corp and uses natural and eco-friendly materials such as merino wool, recycled bottles and castor bean oil. Even their packaging is made from 90 per cent recycled cardboard.

Men’s Wool Runners, Tuke Marinara (Cream Sole), $94


Veja might be the most recognisable shoe in the ethical fashion industry. The iconic V sneakers come in a wide variety of colours – from fun metallic pink to a minimal white and black look. Their sneakers are made from cotton and natural rubber directly sourced from producers in Brazil. They have sneakers available for men, women and kids.

V-12 B-Mesh Berry Gold Yellow, $129

Adidas and Parley

The thought of shoes made from ocean plastic had most scratching their heads, but when it comes to sneakers it’s one of the more sustainable products on the market. Adidas has taken the plunge and partnered up with Parley to transform vast amounts of ocean plastic collected from shorelines and ghost-nets into super sleek and fashionable sneakers.

Solecourt Boost Parley Shoes, $159


Etiko is a small, family-owned business that has won several sustainability awards. All products are vegan and Fairtrade certified with the Australian brand producing ethical hi-top and low-cut sneakers in a range of colours to suit any style or outfit.

The soles are made of natural rubber tapped fresh from a rubber tree. The Organic Cotton canvas and laces are hand stitched by Certified Fair Trade employees. Etilo also uses zero animal glues and non-toxic dyes, with the shoes arriving in a box made of post-consumer waste.

Sneakers Hitops Blue Organic Fair-trade, $74

Po Zu

Po Zu carefully selects ethically sourced and natural materials. The brand also uses Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton and reduces its carbon footprint by manufacturing its products locally. Their vision is for organic textiles to become a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people’s lives and the environment. GOTS covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of textiles. Only products that contain a minimum of 70 per cent organic fibres can become GOTS certified.

PACE Sneakers in Red, $57

Reebok’s Plant-Based Sneakers

Reebok is finally going green. It’s always great to see a big brand challenging competitors to do better, and Reebok took the first steps towards more sustainable alternatives with their plant-based shoes. Whilst still a long way to go, these sneakers have a 100 per cent cotton upper and corn-based sole, and they also come in recycled packaging.

NPC UK Cotton and Corn in chalk, $79

For Your Earth

For Your Earth (FYE) is a streetwear brand making sneakers with sustainable materials, from the recycled soles to the organic cotton laces. FYE also uses non-toxic and natural dyes and pigments, and non-toxic water-based glues. Through their association with Planete Urgence, FYE funds the planting of one tree for each pair of shoes sold.

The brand meaningfully embraces the concept of sustainability through the use of recycled materials as their uppers use recycled plastic bottles and recycled polyester.

FYE Opale Sneaker in blue/hot pink, $70


Saola is an ecological sneaker brand using recycled, organic, and bio-based materials for their shoes. The uppers of Saola’s sneakers are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles, their outsoles are made from algae foam (harvested from excess algae), and the laces are made from Global Organic Textile Standard-certified organic cotton.

Cannon Men’s Navy, $69

Via GQ Australia