I’ve written about slippers on my blog before – always a popular subject! – and although many of the brands I mentioned back then were pretty good on the sustainable front, some of them weren’t up-to-scratch. Given that slippers by their very nature are something that tends to need replacing, and that they make a great gift (it won’t be long before we’re all talking about the C word), combined with the fact that if you’re working from home, you’re may well be in need of a pair, I thought it was about time for an update.
But a quick note first. Sustainability means many different things to different people. It’s a highly complex and nuanced subject, so I’ve included a few different options in this list in the hope that you can find the solution that best works for you and your priorities. I’m a firm believer that the onus should be on policy makers, big businesses and the super-rich when it comes to sorting out the climate emergency (because they’re responsible for most of the damage), but individual actions – especially where you choose to spend your money – do make a difference, so if it all seems overwhelming, focus first on the issue that means the most to you and take it from there.
Anyway, in my experience, the most durable slippers are those made from sheepskin and wool. I’m pescatarian but I don’t have a personal problem with wearing sheepskin or wool if it has come from an ethical source – as such I avoid Australian wool (where mulesing is still common practice) and look for countries of origin such as New Zealand or the UK where the sheep are treated much better, or alpaca wool (because who doesn’t love an alpaca?). Wool is durable yet biodegradable and has brilliant natural qualities including being waterproof, antibacterial and, perhaps most importantly, having the ability to keep your feet warm.
But if you are vegetarian or vegan you’ll be looking for a different planet-friendly option. I don’t advocate vegan leather for the sake of it because it’s usually made from virgin plastic, and we definitely don’t need any more of that, but if it’s recycled and is taking some pollution out of circulation and giving it a new life then that’s obviously brilliant.
So, here’s what you came here for – my round-up up of the best sustainable and ethical slippers out there.
Although they are a classic Danish design, these gorgeous felted wool slippers are handmade by skilled artisan women in Nepal, providing them with a good wage. The colours that the slippers come in are achieved using environmentally friendly dyes and they are also certified Fair Trade. They’re available in the slip-on mule style I am wearing, as well as some frankly adorable little booties.
As well as being made from 100% recycled materials, these beauties are suitable for vegans as no animal products are used to make them at all (even that wool-like felt is made from recycled materials). The plastic is collected from ocean waste, so as well as re-using waste, you’ll be helping clear up natural habitats, too.
The Small Home
The Small Home is a website that only sells goods from responsible producers and craftspeople. Their lovely slippers are made using sheepskin sourced from a British supplier with extremely high animal welfare standards, as well as cut-offs from Rolls Royce that would have otherwise been thrown away.
Another vegan friendly option, these sturdy guys are designed to be worn outside the house too. While I probably wouldn’t take them down the pub, I do love a slipper that can cope with popping out to the bins even if it’s a bit damp outside. They have recycled rubber soles and every pair uses eight plastic bottles to create the felt-style uppers.
Based on a traditional Russian design, I love Baabuk’s wool slippers, especially these with the contrasting colour gusset. Baabuk is a certified B Corp, which means it has to hit lots of specific environmental targets in lots of areas of its small business (it’s not an easy certification to get!). I also love that you can buy Baabuk repair kits to patch up your slippers once they fall victim to a bit of wear and tear.
Please note: the Egos slippers are the only ones I have tried personally. This selection is based on styles I think look great and provide a good sustainable option.