Living in a country like Portugal, I tend to wear flip flops almost every day come summer season.
Flip flops are comfortable and leave your feet exposed to the breeze, which is a much-required necessity when the high temperatures come around.
However, I’ve owned several pairs of flip flops over the years and I’m guilty of buying flip flops made from flimsy materials that don’t last too long.
Furthermore, most of the older varieties of flip flops were made with non-recyclable plastics.
To be more precise, they were made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and softening agents called phthalates. In addition, they also contained heavy metals such as lead and cadmium that when added to PVC products made them carcinogenic to humans, and toxic to plants and animals.
Taking this into consideration I’ve decided to create this article because millions of people wear flip flops during summertime, and often get rid of them when it’s over.
What To Look For In Sustainable, Vegan Flip Flops
Before you decide to buy flip flops, think thoroughly about what you want to add to your cart.
Most of the flip flops are made from synthetic rubber which is considered vegan but it’s not ecological. You can also find flips flops that also contain suede or leather for extra durability.
Brands such as Quicksilver, O’Neill, Sanuk, Reef, Billabong, and Clarks are just some of the brands I’ve seen using animal-made materials. Despite that, some of them have truly high-quality vegan-friendly products, which I’ll make mention of within this article.
If you want to own a pair of sustainable vegan flip flops, look for materials such as:
- Natural rubber (preferably Fair Trade)
- Recycled materials (tires, bicycle inner tubes, rubber)
The most common one being natural rubber and recycled materials.
And if you have to go the synthetic (faux leather) route, make sure you pick flip flops free from PVC as this substance is extremely toxic to the environment.
7 Eco-Friendly Vegan Flip Flops
Hemp Flip Flops by Rainbow Sandals
These may actually be the last flip flops you will ever buy. Not solely because of their sustainable nature, but also due to the sturdy construction that may prevent you from ever sending them to the landfill. If you’re not familiar with hemp, hemp is a plant with unusually strong fibers.
The folks at Rainbow Sandals used the strong fibers naturally present in hemp to create the top sole and strap, both double-stitched with a durable bonded nylon thread.
You might not be happy with the use of nylon thread, but it’s part of what makes these flip flops super sturdy. In fact, most of the reviews praise that unique sturdiness which may be better than buying a new pair of flip flops every year.
These Rainbow flip flops are comfortable to point where they’re stiff enough to be flimsy, but also soft enough to not hurt your feet after a few miles.
Plus, the hemp straps are also solid enough to maintain their comfortable feel even when wet. In fact, being made of hemp, they also don’t deteriorate from the salt, which unfortunately happens a lot to fabrics such as cork or even animal leather if you just leave them be.
On top of that, they’re light, and they’re also quite elegant (particularly the dark brown color).
All Cork Flip Flops by Original Cork Shop
If you want a truly biodegradable pair of flip flops, these all cork Flip Flops are 100% natural, flexible and handmade.
Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree, and what’s so good about using this material, is that the oak tree regenerates after each harvest. Typically, cork is harvested responsibly, so that there’s enough time for the tree to regenerate before being harvested again.
Furthermore, a few of the dazzling benefits of cork (besides being truly sustainable) is that it is water-resistant, hypoallergenic and lightweight.
According to the reviews on Etsy, the construction of the flip flops is solid, comfortable and the colors are beyond beautiful. These cork flip flops have also been featured in Vogue UK and Brides magazines, and they have also been patented by the Original Cork Shop.
This being said, one of the downsides of wearing cork is that it deteriorates quickly when in contact with saltwater. However, that’s a low price to pay when you consider the benefits.
Fair Trade Natural Rubber Flip Flops by Olli
These flip flops by Olli are made with natural rubber, a type of material that is biodegradable, renewable, and sustainable. If you don’t know where natural rubber comes from, it’s actually produced from the latex sap from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis).
What I also appreciate about the Olli flip-flops, is that they’re also free from chemicals, so the impact it has on your skin is also non-existent.
In addition, you can have peace of mind, knowing that you’re not contributing to exploitative business practices because Olli is a Fairtrade certified brand. In fact, their natural rubber is sourced from the finest rubber plantation in Sri Lanka, where the works are paid accordingly.
Naturally, that is also reflected in the price of the product, but if you wish to keep the world a better place, I’m pretty sure you’re down with that.
However, in order to have incredibly lightweight and soft flip flops, you have to hit the right balance between natural rubber and other natural ingredients to create a product that is soft, spongy, but still maintains a structure that is durable and strong. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why these flip flops are popular on Amazon — they’re soft and comfy, but also durable.
The aspect I like the least is the design. This may be just me, but I think the shape of the flip flops resembles a lot of the Havaianas-styled flip flops already available, and the choice of colors just brings out a certain blandness in them.
This being said, they’re truly a perfect match for the true environmentalist, and I certainly believe they’re the right choice for any vegan.
Recycled Tire Flip Flops by Indosole
If you’re not aware, due to their structure, tires take thousands of years to decompose. Oddly, the first tires in the world are probably still out there, slowly decomposing.
Indosole is unique in the sense they repurpose tires to craft flip flops with an extremely durable outsole.
They also use natural rubber to create a midsole that provides soft cushioning, and they also use custom fibers made with less water & dye to create flexible straps and durable webbing tape.
The flip flops also feature a custom mold footbed that adapts to the shape of your foot, providing you with adequate arch support. In addition, the footbed also features a texture pressed top sheet that prevents your foot from slipping.
Also, since the outsole is a byproduct of recycled tires, it’s quite durable and can be used in all sorts of terrains. Lastly, Indosole is a certified B Corporation, so it has to meet rigorous social and environmental standards, such as being transparent about their production process.
Natural Rubber & Recycled Flip Flops
These certified fairtrade flip flops are created using a mix of FSC natural latex and recycled rubber.
While they’re not the most affordable flip flops, that is partly due to a fairtrade premium used to support projects that help hard-working communities.
They’re regular flip-flops similar to Havaianas, which means they don’t have complex features other flip flops like Huggoes have.
The main reason I’ve placed these flip flops here is mainly due to the sustainable and ethical impact they have. In fact, they were designed and exclusively made to help ethical causes the Guardians of our Future support.
If you’re searching for more feature-intensive flip flops, there are certainly better options available.
Natural Rubber Flip Flops by Huggoes
Huggoes are top-notch flip flops made of 100% natural rubber from Thailand.
Being 100% natural means they’re biodegradable, making them a really popular choice among true environmentalists.
These flip flops feature a comfy sole, relaxing rubber straps for perfect wearability, and a bendable structure made with durable rubber that enhances your walking experience.
On top of that, it is weightless, slip-resistant and has a quick-drying feature that fits lake and beach destinations. Not many flip flops are comfortable, but the Huggoes are widely appreciated (just look at the reviews on Amazon) for their soft and comfortable footbed.
This being said, Huggoes doesn’t seem to be Fairtrade. From what I’ve gathered, the flip flops are made in Thailand, and while they’re truly high-quality, the degree of transparency is low.
PVC Free Vegan Flip Flops by Reef
As far as sustainability goes, I admit these aren’t the most eco-friendly pair of flip flops. However, I couldn’t disregard the fact they’re 100% PVC free, which is a big plus in my opinion.
On top of that, there are certain features regular flip flops don’t have.
For instance, these Reef flip flops boast of a three-layered Swellular technology which includes a super-soft, comfortable contoured foam footbed; a medium-density midsole with anatomical arch support that sustains long walks and a high-density rubber sole that provides you with traction, protection, and comfort by minimizing the impact on each step.
Also, taking into account the materials, they’re water-resistant. Another interesting fact about the flip flops is that the footbed doesn’t get discolored because it’s intrinsically black.
However, they’re probably not a good choice for the person who wants to avoid materials with a low-sustainability index.
Unfortunately, I only managed to find 7 vegan flip flops worth mentioning.
The other options I found completely lacked in terms of sustainability, so I decided to not include them in this blog post and only provide you with more eco-friendly options.
But even among the flip flops I’ve mentioned, you’ll find ones that more sustainable than others and vice versa. In fact, if your goal is to own truly sustainable flip flops, I do recommend the Fairtrade Natural Rubber Flip Flops by Olli. They’re both sustainable and ethical to a tee.
If you just want super high-quality flip flops that don’t contain any leather, but you’re fine with them having a synthetic construction, then these Flip Flops by Reef might be the most compelling in terms of features, durability, as well as comfort.
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