But these are my favourite alternatives
I have many many issues with flip flops.
Aesthetically speaking, they’re just not for me, and I was not tempted when they had a brief fashion moment during Copenhagen Fashion Week last summer. Comfort-wise…well, they’re not are they. They offer no support to your back, which for me is essential (read more about why I don’t wear heels here), and when it’s hot they stick to my skin and give me blisters. My personal bugbear is seeing people wear them in the city: unless you’re on the beach or by the pool, what’s the point? You don’t live in Cornwall now, mate!
Freedom Moses sandals, £29.99 (shore.co.uk)
Added to that, environmentally they don’t stack up well either; according to blueocean.net, over 90 tonnes of discarded flip flops are washed up on East African shores every year. The fact that they are really cheap is part of the problem – in developed countries they’re somewhat seen as disposable shoes (and it’s very easy to lose one in the surf!). Many brands are getting much better at using recycled products to make their flip flops, which is great, and when your flip flops reach the end of their lives, Terracycle will shred them and make them into something else, like picnic benches (although you might need to find collection point as their boxes accept 64 pairs and cost over £100!).
Birkenstock Arizona EVA, £30 ([AD] birkenstock.com)
But although I don’t like flip flops, as someone who spends a lot of time at the beach, I really do see the appeal of a rubbery shoe. And I’ve discovered a long-lasting alternative that is, in my opinion, a much better investment than a traditional flip flop. A few years ago I was given a pair of Freedom Moses sandals – like a Birkenstock Arizona but rubber – that I have worn and worn and that still look as good as the day I got them. Birkenstock also does its own EVA version, and Mr Brogue has a pair that he loves.
Cacatoes recycled plastic sandals, £49 (laboo.london)
New to the British market are Cacatoes sandals. They’re currently stocked exclusively at south east London sustainable boutique Laboo, and the really brilliant thing is that they are made from recycled plastic. I find a shoe constructed with a double strap and moulded sole like these is much more comfortable than a flip flop, and gives much better support, so you can walk a lot further in them, too.
Payukan sandals, £51.57 (payukan.com)
Another new discovery for me is Payukan sandals. Its polyurethane sandals might not be recycled, but the material has been specifically chosen to build these sandals to last (they also do a leather equivalent if you’re not a seaside dweller). Designed to withstand the erosion caused by sea water and perspiration, they also have a UV filter and strong Velcro on the straps that’s usually used for diving suits. I love their urban aesthetic and they are really comfortable. (NB: the website advises that my size, UK4, is size 36, which does fit me nicely, but if you are between sizes or have long toes I would definitely size up! My pair were a gift)
Payukan is named after sea turtles, and the brand’s founder Nicolas supports their conservation with regular donations to the Royal Their Navy Sea Turtle Conservation Centre Phan Nga.