The Ethical Shoe Quest

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the thoughts that spurred my work behind the brand new Unit 1 – Shoes & Sustainability. (You can find my post here, if you’re curious!) Kristina wrote a great comment about how the her shoes send a message that she cares about them, where they came from, the people and the planetary resources involved. Do you feel that way too? Do you think about where your shoes come from?

It can be a tricky world out there for consumers, with so many options – every colour, every model, every look, every message. If a new pair of shoes is a choice on your horizon, I’m here to help with a jumping off point, a guide to your ethical shoes quest, if you so choose to take it on!

Let’s start with a list of a handful of sustainable and ethical shoe companies. Each is unique, and each is passionate about the soul of their brand, as well as their soles! (Couldn’t help myself.)

Sustainable Shoe Companies:

Ethical Shoe Companies:

Exploring these companies and what they stand for is also part of an activity in Unit 1 – Shoes & Sustainability. Students have the opportunity to investigate human rights abuses in sweatshop factories, assess how a shoe should be made in consideration of sustainability (concerning both the environment and human rights), and use the information they discover to act and create positive change.

Would you like to spark change on top of wearing a new pair of ethical shoes on your feet? After exploring the ethical and sustainable companies above, consider writing a letter of protest (to a company who could do better), or a letter of appreciation (to a company who’s trying to change their ways or is innovative in the field). One voice really can make all the difference in the world!

To help a bit, here is list of companies who “subscribe to fair labour standards” ( However, “subscribing to fair labour standards” doesn’t always mean that there are no sweatshops in the production lines. For more points of view, check out the 2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame from the International Labor Rights Forum (, and this list of brands that use sweatshops (
With these tips in mind, from now on every step you take will be a step toward a better world!
Interested in learning with us about the sneaky secrets of shoes? Join me, the World By Cycle team, and educators and students from around the world in the Ride To Learn classroom for Unit 1: Shoes & Sustainability.

First register (takes only 5 minutes) at:

Passcode: WBC/RideToLearn! (include capitals and !)

I’m excited to explore with you!