Sustainable trainers: 8 best to invest in for a more eco-friendly wardrobe

If you’re on the hunt for the best gym trainers (opens in new tab) but are also keen to build a more sustainable wardrobe, you’re in the right place. Adopting a more eco-friendly approach to fashion realistically can’t happen overnight, but there are plenty of ethical fashion brands now designing sustainable trainers.

Trainers, and sportswear in general, have historically been the black sheep of the industry, with 95% of the 20 billion pairs of shoes produced globally each year ending up in landfill sites, according to Good News (opens in new tab).

Luckily, a lot of trainer brands are looking into more ethical and sustainable ways to produce their shoes, and therefore reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the planet.

The likes of Veja, Superga, and Tretorn, beloved by Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, are focusing their efforts on eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton and hemp (more durable and better recyclable), as well as vegan leather, natural rubber, and recycled materials.

Keep scrolling for our edit of the best for both work and working out – and don’t miss our guides to the best running trainers (opens in new tab), best weightlifting shoes (opens in new tab), and best crosstraining shoes (opens in new tab), while you’re here. 

Best sustainable trainers for running 

Best sustainable trainers for day-to-day

What should you look for in a sustainable trainer?

As above, any brand focusing its efforts on eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp, vegan leather, natural rubber, and recycled materials is a good place to start. You also can’t go wrong with a Certified B Corp (opens in new tab) – this means they’ve undergone rigorous testing to ensure they are actually sustainable.

Other brands are off-setting their footprint by taking back your old trainers to recycle them, and planting a tree for every pair sold. Ethical running shoe brand Allbirds are making their models carbon neutral by creating fabrics from Forest Stewardship Council-certified eucalyptus trees, and their trademarked SweetFoam used in midsoles is made with carbon-negative green EVA material.

While it doesn’t seem as important, the packaging your trainers comes in is obviously key. Sending eco-friendly shoes in a plastic bag just isn’t going to cut it, which is why some labels are also focusing on recycled cardboard packaging that is free of single-use plastic.