Our dedication to making ethical shoes means making more sustainable shoes. No animals - human or non-human - can survive and thrive on a dead planet, so protecting the Earth is essential to our mission.
By using materials that are not animal-derived in our shoes, we instantly cut back our environmental impact when compared to a shoe brand using cow skin leather.
When we consider the production of different materials, we see that cow skin leather is the third most environmentally impactful material to produce from cradle to gate. In comparison, when considering impacts like climate change, fossil fuel use, water scarcity, eutrophication and chemistry, even synthetic polyurethane (PU) leather has a far reduced impact.
How does cow skin leather compare to synthetics?
While synthetic materials aren't the solution to the future of fashion and sustainability, synthetic leather is far less impactful on the planet than cow skin and other animal-derived leathers, while being more accessible, while innovative materials continue to be developed.
Some fast facts on how the two compare:
- Synthetic leather isn't biodegradable, but neither is most animal leather, even when vegetable tanned!
- To produce a pair of boots from PU rather than cow skin leather, 56.5kg less of CO2e (carbon equivalent) greenhouse gas emissions are released into the atmosphere.
- Making one pair of shoes made from cow skin leather uses up 7,612 litres of water, with PU requiring about 14 times less water.
- Unlike cow skin leather, synthetic leather does not contribute so significantly to deforestation and land clearing.
What materials do we use instead?
Instead of cow skin leather, we use and stock shoes made of a wide variety of synthetic, partially bio-based, and plant materials.
The materials we use, even those that are synthetic, are not harmful to the planet in the way that synthetic leather used to be.
PVC, a now lesser used synthetic leather compared to PU, is considered to be far more toxic. The high quality PU that makes up the vast majority our Zette Shoes collection is OEKO-TEX 100 certified, and made in a CO2-free manufacturing environment in Europe, ensuring ecological protection.
Some of our material and shoe manufacturing partners also run extra recycling initiatives to reduce their waste during production.
What about our packaging?
All of our Zette shoes collection come in boxes made from recycled materials. The other shoes we stock from ethical brands also largely sent in recycled boxes. The tissue paper inside our in-house brand boxes is also recycled.
We minimise waste by re-using stock boxes for large orders, and by avoiding the production of needless marketing collateral. We don't send out post cards or other printed marketing with our orders for this reason. When you order your shoes from our in-house brand, you'll get a recycled box and tissue paper, and your shoes -- that's it.
(If you were hoping for information on how to care for your shoes with your order though, so that they can last for a long time, we've got you covered online!)