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I Wore Sustainable Shoes Made Out Of Plant-Based Materials For A Week, And Here's What Happened

Each year, people throw away hundreds of millions of synthetic shoes that end up in landfills. So, I tried plant-based, eco-friendly shoes made with naturally recycled materials to see what I thought.

If you didn't already know, every time you wear through a pair of shoes and throw them out, you are contributing to global shoe waste. Most shoes are made from synthetic materials that take years to biodegrade, and — each year in the US — people throw away over 300 million pairs of shoes that end up in landfills.

A landfill

However, the biggest part of global shoe waste comes from the shoe industry (which was estimated at $105.8 billion dollars last year). Manufacturers use fossil fuels or coal to power up their factories, and burning these fuels creates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

A bunch of shoes in a landfill

For reference, and sad to say, here is what a pair of my everyday shoes are made from currently:

The tag showing what a shoe is made of

Now, insert PLANTS to save the day. Not only do they make our space look pretty, provide refreshing smells, comforting feelings (and so much more), but did you know that plant-based materials can also provide sustainable footwear for us?

So, when I heard that Sanuk sold plant-based sneakers in their VEG OUT line, I knew I had to test them.

Plant-based sneakers

The men's and women's pair look pretty similar, and these are the only style options right now. Both retail at $70.

Men's and Women's Veg Out shoes

When my pair came in the mail, they looked pretty spot on compared to the website photo:

Veg Out Shoes

And, as a person who is all about smells, they passed the test. They smelled pretty neutral and not super "plant-y" or "grassy" or "soil-y" like I was expecting.

Krista holding up shoes

And even though this may be the most awkward photo you will see today, here is what they looked like on my feet:

Krista showing off her shoes

And a personal shot from my perspective (I wore matching socks just for you):

Krista's new Veg Out shoes

Now, let's move on to comfort. I honestly didn't know what to expect, so before I tried them on, I told myself that these get a pass no matter what because they are good for the environment. However, I didn't have to convince myself of anything! They had soft insoles that easily shape to your foot.

Veg Out shoe insole

Now, the real test would be wearing them around for the week, which is what I decided to do.

Krista's shoes in the grass

Right away, I noticed how "light" they felt when comparing them to my current everyday shoes which have synthetic outer rubber soles. They felt more natural and less clunky on my foot.

Krista's shoe comparison

The one downside was that when I wore them for longer periods of time, the back of the heel would rub against my ankle, and it was uncomfortable. And I know it doesn't look like I am wearing socks in this pic, but I am...

Krista's Veg Out shoes

Obviously, when I wore higher socks, it solved the problem. So, if when you wear these shoes, you may need to wear taller socks to make sure the back of your ankle is covered.

Krista's shoes

After a week of wearing them around, here is what the bottom of the sole looked like. Obviously, a week isn't super long, but the tread held up!

The bottom of Krista's shoes

My overall thoughts on these shoes are: They're a no-brainer simply for the fact that they help our planet! But, from the perspective of someone who is looking for comfort/style on their feet, I think these shoes are a good option because they are comfortable, and they give off a casual look that can match a lot. I wouldn't say these are the best option for a long, outdoor hike, but — as I said — they are a great everyday shoe for little outings, running errands, etc.

Krista holding up her Veg Out shoes

Hopefully, more companies will start coming out with more plant-based shoe styles so we can have all sorts of options to choose from while still being environmentally conscious!

You can buy the VEG OUT shoes I tried here.

Please note: Sanuk provided this shoe for me to test free of charge, but I was under no obligation to positively review it.