With colder temperatures approaching, we’ve rounded up our top five sustainable men’s winter shoes for 2020. We encourage you to check out the column below and the soon-to-be-released accompanying video.
We also hope you’ll take a moment to learn more about the significance of sustainable mens footwear and the innovative companies that are leading the way.
You’ve likely made your way to this website because you’re interested in taking steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle. Perhaps the most literal way you can do so? Through your choice of footwear.
Your Shoes and Your Carbon Footprint
The term “carbon footprint” refers to an individual’s impact on the environment. While things like electricity, heat and transportation may come first to mind when we think of our personal contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, other factors also come into play. Look no further than the shoes on your feet.
More than 20 billion pairs of shoes are manufactured globally every year. Unfortunately, the shoe manufacturing industry constitutes a serious threat to the environment: not only does it produce massive amounts of carbon dioxide, but it also releases many toxins, chemicals and fossil fuels into the atmosphere, all of which are harmful to the planet and its inhabitants. In fact, the production of a typical pair of shoes generates a staggering 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions — enough to power a 100-watt light bulb for a week.
And that’s just one part of the shoe lifecycle. From extracting the raw materials that become shoes to transporting shoes from the far-off factories where they’re made to the glut of discarded shoes that end up in landfills, the detrimental impact of the footwear industry on the environment cannot be overstated — or overlooked.
Big Shoes to Fill
The good news? The global sustainable footwear market is growing. Valued at $7.5 billion in 2019, it’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.8 percent between 2020 and 2027. Driving this growth? Awareness among consumers, who — in addition to demanding style, comfort, versatility, functionality and performance from their footwear — are now prioritizing sustainability, too.
In particular, some inspired and impressive footwear companies are making giant strides when it comes to sustainability thanks to the winning combination of a commitment to doing better and technological advancements. In addition to devising new manufacturing processes, they’re also recycling waste into new shoes.
Take Allbirds, for example. Using merino wool held to the highest standards of farming, land management and animal welfare, the company is able to use 60 percent less energy than it would with typical synthetic materials. Its use of tree fiber instead of traditional materials like cotton, meanwhile, not only halves its carbon footprint, but also uses 95 percent less water. Did we happen to mention that they look great, too?
FAIR Portugal is another of our favorites. This modern shoemaker from Portual not only produces a completely animal-free collection, but does so under worker-friendly conditions using the most sustainable materials.
We’re also big fans of Brave GentleMan. Launched in 2010 as the world’s first vegan lifestyle menswear brand, its shoes are smart, stylish and making a difference — which led PAPER MAG to declare the company to be “just about everything an mindful fashionista could want.”
And these are just a few examples of the good work being done by leaders in the sustainable fashion and footwear movement. Allbirds, FAIR Portugal, and Brave GentleMan are joined by a host of others brands, all doing their part to make ethical and eco-friendly footwear for people who care about the environment as much as they do.
Shoes help keep us safe by protecting our feet during colder winter months, but are yours doing more harm than good in the long run? The answer to that question may well be “yes” if you’re wearing conventionally made shoes. So, this winter why not choose to support sustainable footwear companies and the cool kicks they’re putting out into the world instead? By purchasing sustainable men’s winter shoes this winter, you’ll not only be doing your feet a favor, but also the earth upon which you tread.
Check out our first look at the recently launched Allbirds Tree Dasher running shoe!