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

Good for both people and planet.

A product shot of some of the best sustainable trainers from Veja
(Image credit: 2021 Christian Vierig)

If you're on the hunt for the best gym trainers 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.

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, best weightlifting shoes, and best crosstraining shoes, 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 - 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.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.