A few months ago, after realizing I needed to replace a lot of my closet, I got interested in ethical fashion as one way I can make a small lifestyle change to help the planet. It’s so easy to agree that we should be environmentally conscious, but it’s so hard to actually make the right decisions. To do my part, I’m making a commitment to only buy thrifted items or new clothing pieces from eco-friendly companies that use sustainable and ethical manufacturing practices.
One of the first things on my To Buy List was a pair of sneakers, so I started looking into eco-friendly shoe materials and brands. I ended up buying a French brand called Veja because I love their look and approve of their manufacturing practice. Veja’s sneakers are made from natural rubber sustainably sourced from the rain forest. Today, I want to talk about why sustainable rubber is important, how Veja sources it, and how I’ve been liking my new sneakers.
[Note, this is not a sponsored post. I bought these shoes because I liked them and I’m writing this post because I want to share my thoughts with you.]
Why Sustainable Rubber
The rubber industry, which includes both naturally-sourced and synthetic rubbers, has a huge negative impact on the environment. Synthetic rubbers are manufactured from petroleum byproducts and their synthesis and processing consumes a large amount of water. That water is later emitted as wastewater contaminated with environmental toxins. Natural rubbers, on the other hand, are made using latex tapped from rubber trees. The huge demand for rubber – particularly from the auto industry – has caused a large amount of land to be given over to rubber tree plantations, which leads to natural deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions caused by unsustainable farming practices.
Several shoe manufacturers have been moving toward sustainable rubbers, either by utilizing recycled rubber – usually from tires – or by sourcing sustainably-farmed rubber. Veja has done the latter by setting up a relationship with Brazilian rubber tappers who live and work in the Amazon rain forest.
Since the popularization of synthetic rubber, many Amazonian rubber tappers have abandoned their trade and taken up alternate uses for their land, such as raising cattle or logging, ultimately leading to deforestation as trees are cleared for pasture or production of lumber. By creating a demand for natural rubber, Veja is encouraging the rubber tappers to maintain the natural rubber trees – a step towards decreasing Amazonian deforestation.
Veja V-10 Review
I picked out the Veja V-10 because I loved their retro look. I knew I wanted white or mostly white sneakers and these fit the bill. They are a sleek white leather with a pop of red and blue – reminiscent of these vintage Adidas. Since they are mostly white, they go with pretty much anything in my closet. Big points for being a versatile item! I’ve been wearing them with a casual jeans/t-shirt/button-down look as well as with a more polished black jean/button-down look.
When I first put these on, they were stiffer than I expected. These are my first sneakers with leather uppers so they felt a little odd at first. I was a little concerned that they would be uncomfortable, especially because the tongue was rubbing the front of my ankle. After about three wears, they loosened up a bit and now they feel great.
The sole is fairly thick and offers a lot of support, making the V-10 a great walking shoe. I’ve worn them for walks around the neighborhood and walks through a huge dirt lot from my car to work and they’ve worked well for both.
A note on sizing – these seem to run a bit big so beware. I am a true size US 8 and got these in a size EUR 39. They’re a little roomy for me in the toe box but fit snugly throughout the rest of the foot. I considered sending them back for a smaller size but decided against it because I didn’t want to pay for shipping. Luckily, my foot doesn’t slide around at all and the fit is feeling really comfortable for me, so I’m happy I kept them in a 39. But if you’re on the smaller side of a US size, you might want to size down.
PRICE -$140 USD
These shoes are more expensive than what I would normally pay for a sneaker. However, based on my decision to make conscious choices and use my money to vote for sustainable, ethical fashion, I’m OK with the price tag. These shoes seem to be very well made and durable, so I think I’ll be getting a lot of wear out of them. Here’s to hoping they’re a better investment than the pair of $100 Nikes that I bought and only wore about a dozen times.
I really like this sneaker. I had some concerns with the fit and sizing at first, but once the leather broke in and my foot got used to the shoe they ended up being really comfortable. It’s a versatile sneaker that looks great and can be styled in a number of different looks. I’ve been wearing them at least four times a week and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future. They’re the perfect work shoe for me – closed-toe, comfortable but also stylish. I would definitely buy from Veja again.
What do you think? Are you into Veja’s retro style? Would you be willing to pay a little more for a sustainably made sneaker?