It's already summer in Seattle and I've been wearing a cheap pair of sandals that I bought about 3 years ago... long before I was even thinking about sustainability. Though I still like them a lot and they have actually held up well, they don't provide enough support for the amount of walking I do now (without my own car) and the amount of time that I spend on my feet.
While buying a pair of second-hand sandals would be best for the environment it's not the most sanitary or comfortable as most people, I would say, do not get rid of their comfortable shoes but rather their uncomfortable ones. Given this, I've searched high and low for some new designs that will withstand the test of time (adding to their sustainability) and go with most outfits. This will allow us to own less shoes and simplify our lives and closets! I've been a shoe-hoarder for most of my life, especially of beautiful vintage heels and have found that I rarely wear them and they complicate and clutter my life more than they add value to it.
This is one of my first attempts at pairing down and donating my shoe selection to maybe 5 pairs of shoes, with a simple summer sandal being one of them. I've included designs from around the world to give you a locally-made option wherever you might be.
My criteria is as follows:
- Made with responsibly-sourced materials
- Manufactured with the earth and artisans in mind
- Can easily be worn with pants, dresses, skirts or shorts
- Simply designed to withstand the test of time
Black & Brown Leather by Caboclo | Barcelona, Spain
Caboclo is a very holistic company that takes their entire process into consideration, how it effects the community, the earth, and the wearer. The Barcelona-based team works with artisans in Brazil who use the traditional shoe-making process to create quality pieces that are built to last. The Brazilian artisans are treated well and even trained to be entrepreneurial and self-sustaining. One of the old techniques that is part of their process is using all-natural dyes and leather treatments which protects the planet from harmful chemicals. A new technique that they have implemented in their designs is using recycled rubber tires for the soles.
Skaerbaek Black by Duckfeet | Vejle, Denmark
Duckfeet has been making high-quality shoes in Denmark since 1975. Their focus is making shoes out of the best natural materials that will last decades. This design is made out of handpicked, durable leather and carefully sourced rubber. They seek to use sustainable practices throughout the shoe-making process.
KAYLA IN BLACK MATTE LEATHER BY NAOT | NAOT MORDECAI, ISRAEL
This design by Naot would be perfect for long days on your feet wether at work or trekking around on a summer vacation. The cork used for the foot bed is a renewable source as it is carefully harvested from the bark of a cork tree and let's the the tree grow further. The spongy material also makes this shoe really comfortable as it forms to the shape of your foot over time. These shoes are also made to last with durable leather and careful craftsmanship, reducing the amount of shoes you will have to buy over time.
Natural Tyre by Brother Vellies | Kenya, Africa
This clean and simple sandal is made entirely in Kenya, as the owner of the company seeks to sustain artisanal jobs in Africa. All of the leather used in their products is locally-sourced and is a byproduct of the food industry. The soles made out of recycled tires and their use of energy is reduced since these are made by hand. Brother Vellies is an exceptional company that is working hard to take care of the earth and the people who live here.
Woven Leather Huarache by IX Style | Guatemala
These woven sandals are made by hand in Guatemala by locals who are paid fairly, trained professionally and educated on health. IX Style is focused on providing clean water to Guatemalans which in turn free's the children from gathering water and allows them to be in school. Being made by hand, it takes minimal electric energy to make these shoes and for every pair that is purchased a tree is planted in Guatemala.
Delmas Black Leather by Birkenstock | Germany
I love this new design by Birkenstock that is still simple but a little more elegant and interesting than the classic Arizona style. Birkenstock is an innovative company that has been taking care of the earth for 230 years. The experienced company uses as many raw, sustainably-harvested materials as possible including comfy, foot-cradling cork for the base. Now, they even use environmentally-friendly adhesives for 95% of their shoes. This shoe would be the best for every-day use and traveling in the summer.
I hope this helps if you're looking for a solid new sandal that will last! For my self and my lifestyle that keeps me on my feet, I think the Kala by Naot or the Delmas by Birkenstock will be best. Look out for my selection of Men's Sandals next week!
Credits: All images belong to their respective companies