By Wendy Donahue, Tribune Newspapers
Treading lightly on the Earth requires searching hard for eco-conscious-but-fashionable shoes.
" Vegan and eco-shoes are hard to come by," said Jessalynn Brinkmeyer, who runs the environmentally-friendly fashion site pivotboutique.com. "But there are some great lines out there."
If you're looking to leave a lighter-than-usual carbon footprint, check out brands using plentiful natural resources such as cork and bamboo and brands that don't tan leather with a chrome solution.
The Naya line, from the same company that makes Via Spiga and Franco Sarto shoes, checks those two boxes in its debut collection of wedges, sandals and flats ranging from $110 to $130.
"We started with the premise that the shoes are beautiful and comfortable and eco-friendly," said Kasey Gibbs, director of product development and design for Naya. "Chrome is often used in the tanning of leather, but our process is very natural, the way items were tanned years ago, with vegetable dyes. Chrome is a heavy metal, and we don't want it to leach out of shoes in a landfill at the end of their life."
Naya uses bamboo, which grows quickly, in its heels. Footbeds are made of cork, from the bark of trees that are still living and from rubber. The foam is biodegradable latex. Buckles are nickel-free.
Other brands translate eco-consciousness in a variety of ways, but all of these score points for style:
•Melissa (melissaplasticdreams.com) —The Brazilian brand collaborates with designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood to create shoes from recyclable PVC, to which it adds a scent. Brinkmeyer owns "a few pairs from a couple of years ago that I wear to death."
•Toms Shoes (toms.com) — Rooted in social responsibility, these simple, comfortable slip-ons and sneakers in multicultural prints and motifs are particularly popular among teens.
•Swedish Hasbeens (swedishhasbeens.com) — The Swedish brand carries clogs that look especially on-trend this spring.
•Mohop (mohop.com): These customizable sandals come in three wedge-heel heights and wood types from sustainably managed forests. Five sets of ribbons allow lots of tying possibilities.
•Birkenstocks (birkenstockusa.com) should not be overlooked, with their cork footbeds and iconic designs.
•Other brands to check out: Olsen Haus (Olsenhaus.com), Beyond Skin (beyondskin.co.uk) and Cri de Coeur (cri-de-coeur.com) for vegan styles.
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