What Are Vegan Shoes Made From

vegan shoes made ofThere are a range of materials currently being used to make vegan shoes, some of which provide very good quality and long wearing shoes, others which focus on the organic nature of the materials but may be a bit less durable, and still others that manage a good combination of both of these attributes.
Perhaps first we can have a look at what materials should be avoided. It goes without saying that animal products such as leather are not going to appear here (even without considering the disturbing environmental impact of the tanning process and glues used for example). But what about the leather substitute materials that have been used in cheaper shoes for many decades?
Vinyl comes to mind. This is derived from petrochemicals and probably raises as many issues as it solves, particularly if you are interested in vegan shoes for environmental reasons (raising animals on the scale we do these days is pretty disastrous for the environment’). The same thing applies to most rubber compounds.
Good products to look out for from a vegan/environmental point of view include natural products like cotton (although that does use a lot of water to grow), cork, hemp (no, this can’t be further recycled once the shoes wear out), canvas and even bamboo. There are also very good water based glues available, so look out for those in your shoes. A combination of these products can produce great shoes.
Man made materials that are not as awful as vinyl include various microfibers such as polyamide and polyurethane. Some vegan shoe manufacturers have gone one step further and recycled materials for their shoes. This brings recycling of rubber into the equation. The inner tubes of tyres are a popular material. There is even a producer that recycles polyester from discarded tv’s.
Recycling also means the shoes don’t end up in landfill, with their chemical components slowly leaching into the soil. (Consider giving your shoes to op shops rather than putting them in the bin).
Using a combination of microfibers, recycled materials and natural materials means there is a wide range of products suitable for making vegan shoes with and then it all comes down to the design and the way the materials are put together.
The other thing to watch out for is fair-trade. If the shoes are made in fair-trade factories then the workers should be getting a fair deal from the manufacturer. If they are made in invisible sweat shops somewhere in Asia then perhaps you need to reconsider the purchase. After all, cruelty or unfair working conditions for humans is still cruelty to animals.
So, even if you don’t want to become a vegan from a food point of view, you can still do a lot for the environment and for animals by changing over to vegan shoes. Go on, you know you want to!

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