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Fashion, Life & Style

Ethical Slippers for Cosy Toes

Looking for a pair of eco-friendly or ethical slippers? Good news then, I’ve rounded up my favourites for you!

With all this staying at home, ethical slippers are on my mind.

This winter it feels like staying comfortable and cosy has never been as important as it has now. I was updating my guide to ethical pyjamas and loungewear and my guide to ethical socks and thought why stop here. I, therefore, carried out some research and found some of the best eco-friendly and ethical slippers for both women and men available in the UK right now.

What I’ve found is that much like the ethical clothing market, the ethical slippers market is small. To make things harder, this already small market has been hit by Brexit. Many ethical slipper choices are made in the EU and shipped to the UK. However, because of Brexit, many EU-based retailers have stopped shipping to the UK.

For those EU-based retailers that are still shipping to the UK, import duties must now be paid on purchases from the EU coming into the UK. This means that when you order from the EU you are hit with these hidden charges. As such, for this guide, I’ve focused on what’s accessible within the UK. It therefore might be small, but I’ve managed to cover all bases I hope!

Slipper Ethics

I’m mindful that everyone has different ethics when it comes to clothing and footwear. As such, this guide has been designed to be a starting-off point for you to research the most sustainable option for you.

Some of the slippers I’ve recommended are vegan-friendly. For these, I’ve sourced those made using recycled plastic bottles, rather than virgin plastic. And for those looking for plastic-free slippers, I’ve sourced ethical slippers made considerately using wool, suede, and/or sheepskin. Where sheepskin has been used, I’ve focused on those upcycling byproducts from other industries.

Guide to Ethical Slippers

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. This doesn’t affect the price you pay for items or your consumer rights, such as your right to return items.  It just means that I get a very tiny percentage of the sale price if you buy anything via the link.  This helps cover blog costs, such as my web hosting.

Egos Copenhagen

fairtrade slippers uk

Egos wool slippers (£39 – available in the UK from Wild Swans) are ethically made by hand in Nepal by skilled craftswomen. In fact, Egos have been certified by The World Fair Trade Organization.

Each pair takes time and skill to make. As such, each employee can only make 2 pairs of shoes a day. It’s definitely a case of quality over quantity.

The raw wool is dyed with environmentally friendly colors, before being molded into the slipper shape. Another inner layer of felt is then added, for extra comfort. Finally, the outer suede sole is stitched on these incredibly cosy slippers.

Gumbies

Gumbies sustainable slippers

Each pair of Gumbies unisex vegan slippers (£35) are made from recycled plastic derived from post-consumer plastic bottles. In fact, 8 bottles are used to make each pair. What’s more, the soles are even made from recycled rubber.

Rather than stop there, the insoles are made from beans. Yes, beans, you read that correctly! The soft foam Gumbies use for their insoles are made from 100% Castor Bean, a naturally derived material.

Mercredy

ethical slippers uk

Mercredy’s eco-friendly slippers* (£34.95) are handcrafted in Spain using recycled plastic bottles. They use plastic bottles collected from the ocean to create the heavy-duty felt fabric for the slippers. In fact each slipper is made from at least 2 recycled bottles.

This fabric, which is used in both the upper and lining for the slippers is certified 100% recycled by the Global Recycling Standard. What’s more, the sole is made from natural rubber, which is sustainably sourced.

My verdict? Mercredy make for a great pair vegan slippers.

Onaie

Onaie’s beautiful felt slippers* (£31.49) are made and finished in the Polish Highlands using age-old techniques. Onaie says “we take the ethical manufacture of footwear very seriously. We know our craftswomen, we know their business practices and we work side by side with our suppliers to ensure ongoing ethical, social and environmental compliance.” 

These beautiful slippers would make such a lovely ethical gift idea for someone special, or as a treat to yourself.

The Small Home

guide to eco-friendly and sustainable slippers

The Small Home sells beautiful handmade embroidered slippers. Each unique pair is made from the softest shearling sheepskin, using off-cuts from Rolls Royce car interiors to ensure the highest grade skins and to minimise waste.

The Small Home say “The natural materials we use to make our sheepskin slippers are designed to last and offer a sustainable and ethical alternative to fast fashion. Our hand-stitched sheepskin slippers are an everyday luxury suited to slow, mindful living.”

What Else Can I Do?

The single most eco-friendly choice of slippers are the ones you already have. If your existing pair have started to wear out, why not look at how you can repair them?

Learning some basic techniques to repair holes and tears is a great first step. Another useful tool for fixing slippers, depending on what they are made of, is Sugru. I’m obsessed with it!

Beyond your own ethical choices you can also help to engender change on the High St. One way you can do this is to ask High St brands who make their clothes (see Fashion Revolution for their great resources).  This will help press for transparency and sustainability on the High Street. 

Even if you can’t afford to shop for ethical slippers, you can also support the brands that align with your values.  Even if you can’t afford to purchase ethical alternatives, you can also like, comment on, and share their social media posts to help boost their exposure.

Fashion, Life & Style

ad | I Tried Minimal Shoes – Here’s How I Got On

Paid for content with Wildling minimal shoes

Have you ever tried wearing minimal shoes before? I hadn’t until recently. However, I’ve been wearing minimal shoes for the last month and wanted to share how I’ve been getting on with them. I will also share where you can buy ethically produced minimal shoes.

What are Minimal Shoes?

minimal shoes from Wildling Shoes
The Rubus Vegan Winter Minimal Shoes from Wildling Shoes – other shoes in their winter range aren’t vegan, and instead, use carefully selected wool from a landscape conservation project

First off, you might be wondering what minimal shoes are. Minimal shoes are shoes that are designed to closely approximate walking barefoot, in comparison to traditional shoes. With a sole thickness between 1mm and 4.5mm, minimal shoes allow the wearer to experience more sensory contact with the ground. Simultaneously they provide the feet with protection from the ground.

Another key feature of minimal shoes is that the soles are flexible, and the shoes are very light.

Why Wear Minimal Shoes?

wildling minimal shoes

Wildling Shoes, a German ethical producer of minimal shoes for kids and adults, says that “98% of all children are born with healthy feet. Unfortunately, only 20% can maintain this foot health into adulthood”. 

Wildling says that if your feet can develop and move freely, your feet will develop strong muscles. However, thick, stiff soles and footbeds prevent the foot muscles from being strengthened, leaving feet weakened. Whilst many shoes taper at the point where feet widen – putting pressure on your feet.

To rectify this, the Wildling lasts – the basic models for Wildling Shoes – are based on an anatomical foot shape with a natural width. This is designed to mirror the shape of a strong, healthy foot. This gives feet the space they need to develop in a healthy way, whether your feet are narrow or wide.

And to strengthen feet, Wildling says that over the long term walking in minimal shoes demands more of the muscles. Through repeated wear, feet can regain strength, and become more flexible. Wildling also says that minimal soled shoes can lead to better balance and stability, as the increased sensory contact with the ground makes wearers more reactive to underfoot conditions.

How I Got On With Wildling’s Shoes

When Wildling asked me if I wanted to try a pair of their shoes, I’ll admit, I thought I was an unlikely candidate for wearing minimal shoes. I have a condition called hyper-mobility – it’s traditionally known as double-jointedness.

When I was young, I thought it was pretty cool being hyper-mobile. But as I’ve gotten older it’s been less of a joy. Of the many problems it brings, I’m pretty prone to going over on my ankles. This makes footwear a huge problem for me. I can’t wear high heels, and I veer towards shoes with firm support or supplement with prescribed orthotic insoles. Minimal shoes did not come into my footwear equation.

I explained to Wildling that whilst their shoes were very lovely, I wouldn’t be a very good candidate for their shoes because of my condition.

Minimal Shoes & Hypermobility

Wildling quickly got back to me and shared a link to this Facebook post. The post is in German, I had to use the translate button. But here I found that many people in the comments shared that since switching to minimal shoes they are less prone to going over their ankles.

I also read this blog post on the Wildlings site. It featured testimonials from customers with a range of health issues. These ranged from rheumatism to back and foot pain, to diabetes sufferers. All claimed that minimal soled shoes had helped with some of their conditions.

It all really got me thinking. Could a pair of shoes really help with my hypermobility problems? Over the years I’ve seen countless podiatrists, with little success. Let’s just say I was a little skeptical. Wanting more than just anecdotal evidence, I then did my own research. I came across this article on a scientific peer-reviewed study, which found that, in runners, minimal soled running shoes did actually strengthen their feet.

Whilst Wildling Shoes aren’t specifically minimal running shoes, I took the plunge. Soon a pair of Wildling Shoes were winging their way to me, shipped completely plastic-free. The day my Wombat Shoes arrived was an exciting one. I popped them on immediately and tried them out around the house.

Whilst it’s really early days to tell if the shoes will help with my hypermobility problems in my ankles, and I can’t offer any anecdotal evidence at this stage of my minimal sole journey, I have very much been enjoying the feeling of wearing minimal shoes.

What I Liked

Owing to the thin soles – of all the minimal shoes on the market, Wildlings have the thinnest soles available – I feel like I notice more when the ground I’m walking on is uneven. As such, when I’m wearing them more likely to take care on uneven ground. I went on a walk last week wearing welly boots, as it was wet and muddy underfoot. I fell over on some uneven ground, splitting my knee open. I’m convinced this wouldn’t have happened if I’d been wearing my Wildlings shoes.

Something else I’ve noticed is that after walking, my feet and calves feel tired, like they’ve had a workout, in very much a good way. Hopefully, this is a sign that the muscles are strengthening, but I will update this post next year with how I get on.

Warmth wise, I am wearing my Wildlings with the Felty insoles for extra warmth in winter. I was worried that with the thin soles I’d have cold feet. But I have to say that my feet have been very warm and cosy in my Wildlings. I really shouldn’t be surprised – my Wombat boots are made of sustainably sourced wool. As a material, wool has natural temperature regulating characteristics. And because of the muscle stimulation while walking in minimal shoes, this, in turn, means your blood circulation is also stimulated, warming your toes too.

Comfort wise, the thin soles are not uncomfortable. In fact, I feel like I’m wearing slippers and I hate having to take them off when I get home!

What I Didn’t Like

The only criticism of my shoes is that on wet days when I’ve walked to my car, I’ve found the soles of the shoes to be quite slippy on the pedals of my car. There is definitely less grip on them. Once or twice when I’ve been manoeuvring my foot has slipped off the clutch, causing me to stall. To counteract this, I’ve been making sure to wipe my feet thoroughly on the car mat before driving.

Why Choose Wildling Shoes

There are quite a few manufacturers of minimal shoes, but what I really like about Wildling Shoes is their commitment to ethics and the environment.

From the very beginning, Wildling was clear that their shoes should be produced with as minimal impact as possible, both environmentally and socially. After exploring various locations, and taking into consideration the need to keep delivery routes short to minimise carbon emissions, and to keep the shoes themself affordable – Portugal was chosen as Wildling’s production site. Now each and every pair of Wildling shoes are handmade in Portugal by skilled sewers paid a fair wage. Transparency is also key, so you can also find out more about the production process here.

The materials of the shoes are carefully considered too. Their entire range is made from natural and renewable materials such as organic cotton, sustainably sourced wool, hemp, and linen.

I’m definitely a convert, and I really look forward to updating you on my minimal shoe journey! Do check back and I’ll share my experiences here.

If you’d like to try out Wildling shoes for yourself or your little ones use the code MORALFIBRES20 at the checkout to enjoy free UK delivery (valid until 31st March 2021). Your first return is also free. Please note, the minimum purchase amount when using this code is €50, and the code can only be used once per customer.

Find the Wildling Shoes website here, and follow them along on Instagram and Facebook.