More people today are concerned about sustainable practices. This extends to the impacts the goods they purchase can have on the planet. In fact, a recent survey showed that one-third of all global consumers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products.
For these reasons, as well as innovations in design and production, vegan sneakers have begun the move from a niche to a mainstream fashion trend.
The flip side is that, there are so many products to choose from, it can be difficult to know which are worth the money. Many people also have questions about other aspects of these products, including their level of comfort and durability.
The short answer to these questions is that it depends on the manufacturer and the materials used to make vegan footwear. Keep reading to find out what vegan sneakers are made of. The information below will help you find the right vegan shoes for your wardrobe while helping the environment as well.
The Problem With Leather
Leather is a popular shoe material mainly due to its durability. The problem is that it comes from the skin of animals.
About 65 percent of leather products come from cows, with pigs, goats, and sheep making up the majority of the rest. However, leather products can come from birds like ostriches and reptiles such as alligators, crocodiles, and snakes. It can come from the skins of other animals as well.
It is a common misconception that leather is merely a byproduct of the meat industry. While a great deal of leather does come from cows slaughtered for their beef, not all of it does. For instance, the softest leather comes from calves and young sheep and goats.
Leather is still one of the most prominent materials for many types of shoes today. These include boots, heels, and men’s dress shoes. When you include purses, handbags, satchels, and briefcases, it is easy to see how leather is the main component in the fashion industry responsible for the death of animals.
Leather products also have sustainability problems. Raising animals requires large amounts of land, feed, water, and fossil fuels. These space and resources could more easily be used to grow food or plant-based products for sale.
Also, animals on factory farms produce 130 times more excrement than the entire human population. Much of this goes untreated, contributing methane to the atmosphere and contaminating groundwater and other water sources. And treating waste is extremely energy- and water-intensive.
The Problem With Synthetic Leather Alternatives
If you want to avoid harming animals, you may assume alternatives like faux leather or synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, rayon, or acrylic are better choices. That is true but, while these do not rely on animals for production, they have negative environmental impacts.
For one, many of these materials are petroleum-based. This means you are supporting the extraction of fossil fuels, which contributes to global warming.
Also, most of these synthetic textiles are neither recyclable nor biodegradable. Once they wear out or are of no further use to you, they will sit in a landfill and take hundreds of years to decompose.
What Are Vegan Sneakers?
In short, vegan sneakers are shoes that are free from animal products. That includes leather, wool, and fur. They also use no animal-based glues, such as those derived from collagen.
That’s what vegan shoes are not made of, but what are they made of? Vegan sneakers can come from a combination of synthetic and natural materials that do not come from animals.
These include artificial fibers. Although, as mentioned, there can be issues of sustainability with certain products.
Some of the most sustainable vegan materials include cork, cotton, linen, rubber, nettle, pineapple, and hemp. However, even some of these are more sustainable than others. For instance, cotton production requires a lot of water and pesticides, while pineapple and hemp need very little.
What Is Hemp?
Hemp is a fiber that comes from the stem of the cannabis plant, the same one that produces marijuana. Unlike marijuana, hemp comes from the part of the plant that does not contain THC, the psychoactive compound that produces a high. This makes it safe for a variety of uses, including in clothing and shoes.
Industrial hemp has been around for thousands of years. You can trace evidence of its first cultivation back to China around 2800 BC.
Its use increased throughout the Middle Ages. In fact, for hundreds of years, it was one of the most dominant fiber crops in Asia, Europe, and North America. The advent of the cotton gin changed this, making the production of cotton so economical that other fibers were unable to compete.
Are Hemp Shoes Vegan?
Yes, organic hemp shoes from reputable manufacturers do not rely on the use of animal products at any phase of production. Hemp also is one of the least environmentally impactful crops to grow. It requires very little water to cultivate and replenishes the soil with nutrients not achievable in other crops.
Hemp is one of the strongest biodegradable materials. This makes hemp sneakers extra durable and long-lasting.
Hemp shoes are very comfortable and breathable as well, which helps keep your feet dry and cool. They also have antimicrobial properties. This allows them to eliminate odor by preventing the growth of fungi or bacteria.
Find Vegan Sneakers Near You
Now that you understand all the advantages of vegan sneakers, including how they are made, you can decide on a pair that is right for you. You can feel good knowing that you are getting a quality product that does not harm animals but does help the environment.
FootHemp is dedicated to providing the most sustainable, quality footwear while leveraging all the benefits of hemp. Our sneakers are comfortable, durable, and great-looking. Take a look at our online inventory or reach out to us for questions about our products.