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Fair trade, vegan, eco-friendly shoes from Po-Zu and Nicora
For the last three years, I have experimented with going vegan for environmental reasons. Industrial animal agriculture is brutal for animals – and that was a factor, too – but going all in required a bigger picture reason for me. And that turned out to be the reality of massive deforestation due to cattle grazing. As more of the world enters the middle class, meat is now more financially accessible to more people, which means global demand continues to rise.
I eventually settled on a reduced meat diet rather than total removal, for the benefit of my health and the reality of my context in Southern culture, where meat is almost always a part of social gatherings (the endless potlucks make it easy to be somewhat freegan in these parts, too).
In August, I learned something that further contextualized the meat industry: it’s about leather, too. See, I thought leather was a secondary byproduct of meat demand, but it turns out that leather subsidizes meat to the extent that if leather demand went down significantly, beef prices would likely rise, and that would mean global demand for beef would decrease, as well. This is something that, according to many climate scientists, needs to happen. And it’s not really a class issue in the end, because none of us, in any way, need beef to comprise a healthy diet.
So I started reconsidering my orientation toward leather. Whereas before it was all about diet, now I understand that they’re inextricably linked, obviously in a physical sense but also economically. I have made a new commitment to buy either new eco-friendly, vegan goods or secondhand leather, with rare exceptions made for utility goods (like sturdy leather boots) and other things I intend to use for a lifetime.
(This is nuanced, of course, and I’m always learning. I plan to publish a few guest posts on this topic that get at it from different sides – one from the leather shoe industry side and one from the perspective of soil depletion.)
Still, I thought it would be hard to find things that I LOVED from vegan lines that also prioritize eco-friendly, non-oil derived materials and fair labor practices, but it’s been surprisingly simple.
My Favorite Eco-Friendly, Vegan Shoes for Fall
Clogs | Nicora Frida T-Straps
Made with the same traditional craftsmanship as other high end Swedish clogs, Nicora’s diverse line of vegan clogs incorporate recycled uppers and natural wood soles. Handmade in the USA.
Sneakers | Po-Zu Pace
Made with Cradle to Cradle certified Climatex Mesh (which contains a small amount of wool, fyi), eco microfiber, and cork with an organic cotton lining, these sneakers are a great everyday choice for people who are on their feet a lot. Comes in two colors.
Flats | Po-Zu Ello C
Can you tell I’m having a moment with cork? The Ello C flats are made with eco microfiber plus natural cork and latex. All Po-zu shoes are made in a fair wage factory in Portugal. Comes in 4 colors.
City Boots | Po-Zu Che V
My current favorite shoes for their versatility and comfort, the Che V is made with OEKO-TEX certified eco microfiber, natural latex, and cork. These are easy to pull on and have a sneaker-like profile. Two colors.
Hiking Boots | Bhava Ranker Hiker
Made ethically in Spain with REACH certified PVC and azo-free vegan leather with cork insoles, the Bhava Ranker is a more substantial boot for winter wear. Comes in 4 colors.