The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (2024)

Words: Diana Bunge

Category: Top Picks

Published: 13 Sep 2021

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Slipping on a work shoe feels like a Monday morning—full of potential. Discover our favourite more sustainable work shoes to get you through the week.

More sustainable work shoes for your week

While it may sound strange, for me, slipping on a work shoe feels like a Monday morning—full of potential, excitement, and filled to the brim with boss energy. For some, this feeling is elicited with a sexy pump that clacks and clacks; for others, a happy-go-lucky flat or classic mule does the trick. No matter what size or shape you prefer, the Good On You team recognizes that most work-place appropriate shoes are leather-based, making it pretty tough to find more sustainable work shoes that align with your values. That’s where we come in.

We’re happy to report that vegan leather options abound! In line with this ethos, below you can find a plethora of vegan or vintage options, including elegant black flats, lovely vegan loafers, and for a more casual option we’ve got you covered with its sleek, vegetable-tanned leather sandals. And for those who prefer animal leather, there are some chrome-free and deadstock leather options, too. With that, happy browsing!

Business as usual


Rated: Good

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (1)

Meet Jaque, the perfect pointed toe, mid-heel slingback work shoe made with vegan leather. These feminine shoes are lined with OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 certified microfibre manufactured in a system with lower carbon emissions. NAE is a Portuguese footwear, bags, and accessories brand using innovative materials to create goods with “No Animal Exploitation”.

Find most of the shoes in sizes 36 to 46.

See the rating.

Shop NAE.

Shop NAE @ Staiy.

Shop NAE @ Urbankissed.

Will’s Vegan Store

Rated: Good

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (2)

Timeless and classy, these stone, vegan pointed block heels are sure to impress! The shoe is lined with two types of super soft vegan suede, creating not only a lovely place to nestle your foot but allowing air to circulate, helping it stay cool throughout the day. Will’s Vegan Store produces animal and human-friendly women’s and men’s footwear and accessories at more affordable prices.

Find the women’s shoes in US sizes 5-10, and men’s in 7.5-14. Love!

See the rating.

Shop Will’s Vegan Store.

Shop Will’s Vegan Store @ Immaculate Vegan.


Rated: Good

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (3)

The quintessential black flat, except this time it’s vegan and sustainable! These elegant flats come in a variety of colours and are gorgeously crafted from vegan microsuede and feature a pointed toe. NOAH creates cruelty-free and 100% vegan shoes and accessories. This German brand’s high-quality and long-lasting shoes are hand-crafted in Italy, using a small proportion of lower-impact material.

Find them in EU sizes 35-42.

See the rating.

Shop NOAH.

Shop NOAH @ Immaculate Vegan.


Rated: Good

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (4)

It goes without saying that mules take the cake in terms of comfort, sophistication, and professionalism. With a small heel, Nisolo’s Mariella is the brand’s most versatile mule. Designed to mold to your foot, you will find yourself reaching for her every chance you get. Nisolo is an American brand that prioritizes living wages throughout its supply chains while also working to combat climate change. Vegan fashion lovers note, this one is made from animal leather!

Find the collection in US sizes 6-10.

See the rating.

Shop Nisolo @ Made Trade.

Shop Nisolo.


Rated: Good

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (5)


The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (6)

VEERAH – Site-wide

Add a touch of love to every step with VEERAH's new heartbeat brooch clips. Explore versatile vegan shoes, from pointed-toe pumps to stylish, chic flats.Exclusive 10% off all full priced items for first-time purchases with code VEERAHGOOD10.(Ends: 6 MAR)

Checkout code: VEERAHGOOD10

Shop now

VEERAH is an NYC-based designer vegan shoe company founded and led by women to “do good and look incredible”. Its innovative apple peel leather shoe collection is crafted with cushioned insoles made from algae blooms. Each pair is transformative with interchangeable shoe accessories to create more looks with less. It is made for warriors “killin’ it with kindness”.

Find most shoes in US sizes 5-11.

See the rating.


Good Guys

Rated: Good

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (7)

I can’t believe it’s not real leather! Another spin on a classic work shoe, these loafers are made in England with premium quality, lower-impact vegan leather and breathable microfibre lining. Good Guys creates cruelty-free shoes for women and men, founded and designed by Marion Hanania in Paris.

Find most shoes in EU sizes 36-42.

See the rating.

Shop Good Guys.

Shop Good Guys @ Immaculate Vegan.


Rated: Good

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (8)

While wearing heels all day isn’t necessarily ideal, at least it can be done more ethically and with comfort in mind. This classic pump by BHAVA is doing just that, featuring a gorgeous all natural cork insole as well as state of the art shock-absorbent soles. These lovelies are manufactured in Alicante, Spain, where shoes are still being handmade by generations of artisans. BHAVA uses some environmentally friendly materials, such as organic cotton and recycled materials. It also does not use aromatic amines, PCP, formaldehyde, PVC, phthalates, azo-dyes, or chrome when creating its vegan leather.

Find the collection in US sizes 5-11.

See the rating.

Shop Bhava.

Jimmy Choo (Pre-Owned)

Rated: Not Good Enough

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (9)

These pumps are sure to turn heads. While Jimmy Choo isn’t doing enough for animals, people, or the environment, we do recommend giving a second-life to an old pump by purchasing vintage. The Romy Leather Heels are an absolute classic, featuring an elegant pointed toe and genuine leather.

Find the heels in EU size 35.

See the rating.

Shop vintage shoes at Vestiaire Collective.

Cool and casual

Christy Dawn

Rated: Great

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (10)

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, fall footwear is finally near! Christy Dawn’s Chelsea Boot is the perfect pairing for any chilly workday. Crafted from supple dead stock leather, the boot features elasticated siding for easy slip-on and a feminine, softly rounded toe. Each pair is unique with slight variations in grain, texture, and hue! The US brand rates “Great”, making it a fabulous boho option for your wardrobe.

Find the shoes in sizes 5-11.

See the rating.

Shop Christy Dawn.


Rated: Good

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (11)

If you’re able to wear sneakers at work, we recommend Vejas. Veja is a French brand designing fair trade footwear, and is also a sustainable fashion pioneer. The brand uses more responsible materials, like GOTS certified cotton and vegetable-tanned leather! By not advertising, Veja is able to invest more money into strengthening its better practices.

You can find Veja shoes in women’s EU sizes 35-46, and men’s 35-47.

See the rating.

Shop Veja.

Shop Veja @ LVRSustainable.

Shop Veja @ Outerknown.

Shop Veja @ Threads 4 Thought.


Rated: Good

The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (12)

There’s nothing better than being able to slip on a pair of stunning sandals for a day in the office. Handmade in Greece and composed of 100% natural, chemical-free leather, KAYU is going above and beyond to ensure durability and sustainability. What’s more, the brand is committed to using natural materials such as straw, wood, and shells. It also partners with local artisans in the Philippines to produce its products.

Find the collection in EU sizes 35-42.

See the rating.

Shop KAYU.

Shop KAYU Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Well, that’s it! We hope this guide provided some guidance on how to nail your ideal professional look without needing to sacrifice your morals or boss energy in the process!

Editor's note

Feature image via Nisolo, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. We love to recommend some of the best more sustainable brands, rated "Good" or "Great". We also encourage shopping pre-owned as another great way to reduce the impact of our fashion choices. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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The Ultimate Guide to More Ethical and Sustainable Work Shoes - Good On You (2024)


What do you think would make a shoe more sustainable? ›

The leather needs to come from a modern tannery using clean tanning practices. The soles and insoles should comprise a high percentage of plant-based materials. Choose simply made and designed shoes to reduce labor and energy and find shoes made in a factory that offers ethical labor practices.

Why is sustainability important in the footwear industry? ›

Sustainable footwear design is not only beneficial for the environment and society, but also for the footwear industry and consumers. By adopting sustainable practices, footwear companies can improve their brand image, reputation, and customer loyalty, as well as reduce their costs, risks, and regulatory pressures.

What are sustainable practices for shoes? ›

Recycled materials such as recycled rubber and polyester are frequently used to create sustainable shoes. These materials have a lower environmental footprint than those made from raw materials. Natural rubber is another preferred material as it's biodegradable, meaning it won't end up in landfills.

How do sustainable shoes help the environment? ›

Sustainable footwear also brings to the fore the treatment of the animals from which the raw materials are obtained. Because sustainable leather is made from recycled materials and vegetable-based sources, fewer animals are slaughtered for our fashion needs, helping preserve an ecological balance.

Why is it important to make products more sustainable? ›

Sustainable products are often made from renewable or recycled materials, which helps conserve natural resources and reduce waste. This means that, by choosing sustainable products, you can help reduce your reliance on non-renewable resources and decrease the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

Why is sustainability so important for business? ›

Sustainability encourages responsible resource management. This helps reduce and mitigate wasteful spending while streamlining processes to be more efficient. This makes a business more attractive to customers seeking quality products and services and investors interested in positive long-term growth in a business.

What are the social impacts of the shoe industry? ›

The footwear industry also has a significant social impact. The vast majority of footwear is produced in developing countries, where workers are often paid very low wages. In addition, often working conditions in factories are poor and workers have to work long hours in dangerous or harmful environments.

Where did Nike go wrong ethically? ›

Questions regarding supply chain ethics have plagued Nike since the early '90s. Concerning Nike's connection to forced labor, child labor, and sweatshops, problems arose when the company advised contractors to move to Indonesia, China, and Vietnam after a price jump in Korea and Taiwan, per a 2013 Insider piece.

Is Nike ethically correct? ›

Thanks to its use of some lower-impact materials and setting of science-based targets, it also rated “It's a Start” for the planet. But for animals, Nike's use of various cruel animal-based fabrics like down and exotic animal skin, as well as its lack of traceability here, means it is rated “Not Good Enough”.

Which shoe company has the best reputation? ›

13 Best Shoes Brands Rankings:
  • Nike. This athletic apparel and footwear titan needs no introduction, dominating sports and shoe culture through revolutionary technology and endorsem*nt deals with superstar athletes across every sport. ...
  • Adidas. ...
  • New Balance. ...
  • Converse. ...
  • Vans. ...
  • Crocs. ...
  • Birkenstock. ...
  • Clarks Originals.
Dec 19, 2023

Why is Nike being sustainable? ›

Nike diverts 99% of all footwear manufacturing waste from landfills. Nike diverts more than 1 billion plastic bottles annually from landfills to create yarns for new jerseys and uppers for Flyknit shoes. The Reuse-A-Shoe and Nike Grind programmes convert waste into new products, playgrounds, running tracks and courts.

What does sustainable Nike shoes mean? ›


By inventing more efficient materials and reusing existing plastics, yarns and textiles, we're making big strides on our journey to zero carbon and zero waste.

How could Nike be more sustainable? ›

Low-impact Materials

The high-quality yarn derived from them helps in reducing carbon emissions by 30% compared to virgin polyester. Nike has also committed to using 100% sustainable cotton, leather alternatives, and other such low-impact materials by 2025.

How can Nike be more sustainable? ›

Under Nike Grind, old, damaged, surplus shoes are broken down and reused to create rubber, foam, leather, textiles and thermoplastics. These recycled materials can be used for playgrounds, stoor flooring and displays, turf fields, courts, tracks and more, creating a sustainable sports future for the next generation.

What makes things more sustainable? ›

Product usage: The product doesn't use non-renewable resources (e.g., plastic), release pollutants, or otherwise harm the environment throughout its life cycle. Disposal: The product can be recycled, reused, repurposed, or composted and does not pollute the environment.

What is sustainable about sneakers? ›

Shoes made with high quality materials that are low impact and nontoxic like vegetable tanned leather, recycled rubber, and even plant-based options like hemp or cork offer unique performance benefits while being environmentally responsible.


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