I’ve been on the hunt for a pair of ethical wellies lately. After daily wear all through the winter, walking over 3 miles each day, my old trusty pair of wellies has come a cropper. They’ve sadly developed an un-mendable hole in the heel that’s letting in water. Even the wonder that is Sugru isn’t even saving them.
My old pair weren’t especially ethical, but I did get A LOT of wear out of them. Whilst a part of me is tempted to buy a pair from the same shop, a bigger part of me wants a new pair of wellies with ethical credentials. The trouble is ethical wellies are extremely thin on the ground.
What’s Wrong With Standard Welly Boots?
Wellies themselves are not particularly eco-friendly. Making wellies is not an easy process. And making wellies out of eco-friendly materials seems to be even harder. I have found some boots made mostly from natural rubber from renewable resources. However, manufacturers seem to have to use other non-renewable materials in the making of them.
These mixed materials in turn leads to another problem. Because of the mixed materials that go into making wellies, this means at the end of their life the boots can’t be recycled. I, therefore, can’t class wellies as eco-friendly. If you are here looking for eco-friendly welly boots then I’m afraid you are going to be disappointed that there isn’t such an item in existence. Remember, don’t shoot the messenger.
The dilemma is when you need 100% waterproof boots. I live in a more rural part of Scotland and find wellies a necessity. I have had to compromise. Instead, I have decided to buy a pair of more ethically produced wellies (i.e sweatshop free). I’ll then look after them/repair them where possible so that they will last as long as possible.
Are Hunters Boots Ethical?
My first thought was Hunters as I know that they’re as Scottish as they come. Or rather, they were as Scottish as they come. After a bit of research, I found that the company was sold to an American buyer in 2006. The new owners relocated their production of welly boots from Scotland to China in 2008.
Since then quite a few people have said the quality of the boots has declined dramatically. To the point where the boots are developing holes within a year. What’s more, Ethical Consumer ranks them rather low in terms of ethics.
I have, however, managed to find a small handful of EU-based ethical companies. These boots will be less likely to be made in a sweatshop under hazardous working conditions.
Guide to Ethical Wellies
As I’ve done quite a bit of research for myself, I thought I’d share my finds in case anyone else needs to compromise, and requires a pair of ethical wellies. I know we’re coming into summer, so hopefully, wellies season is behind us for at least a little while. In Scotland, you just never can tell though, and you know what Billy says about wellies!
Aigle is one brand to look at for welly boots, as some Aigle wellies are handmade in France using natural rubber. As I mentioned before, the entire boot is not made from 100% natural rubber, so cannot be recycled at the end of their life.
Please also note that not all Aigle wellies are made in France. This page highlights its current range that is made in France. Others seem to be made in China.
The good news is if plain isn’t for you, then they do have quite the collection of stylish prints and styles.
Gumleaf Wellies are handmade in Europe, although there’s no mention of the exact location. Their boots are made using over 75% rubber, so fewer fossil fuels go into their production compared to a pair made from synthetic rubber. They do also look pretty practical and sturdy and could withstand the muddiest of puddles!
I have lost count of the number of Moral Fibres readers that have recommended Lakeland* to me as a great source for ethical wellies, so it’s high time I updated this post to reflect these recommendations. Why do so many readers love Lakeland? Their boots are made from FSC certified natural rubber and lined with organic cotton. They’re not made in the UK, but they are ethically made in Sri Lanka.
As you can see, it’s slim pickings. And the hunt for wellies is definitely full of compromise. However, if you ever come across any other more ethical wellies out there then do let me know. I will also keep checking for more brands and will update this post if I find any more boots that fit the bill. This post is updated for 2021, so it’s currently up to date!