Are TOMS shoes recyclable? How environmentally sustainable are they?
TOMS is a shoe manufacturer based in California. Besides shoes, they also make eyewear, coffee, handbags and apparel. Amongst other things, they are know for their “one for one” concept, which donates one pair of shoes for each pair of retail sold. Are their shoes recyclable? Many consumers might be asking themselves: how environmentally sustainable are they?
Yes, TOMS shoes are recyclable. You actually have several options. And compared to regular footwear, they are very sustainably made.
You can donate your pair to a local thrift store as long as it is in somewhat decent condition. That way, someone else can get some use out it. This is quite easy to do as there are thrifts stores everywhere. You can even do some errands while you’re out dropping off the shoes.
Another option is to donate to the Native Shoes Remix Project of Zappos. The shoe is shredded and the material is used in areas like playgrounds. All you have to do is mail the shoes to Zappos. This is better option for for those who don’t have a thrift store near them (such as if you live in a rural area) or the shoes are really beat-up.
In addition to these recycling options, TOMS goes out of its way to make sure it manufacturers environmentally sustainable products. However, it’s important to note that TOMS shoes can’t just be thrown in the recycle bin. Doing that might cause an issue at the recycling facility. In most cases, the staff will have to put in extra work and remove your shoes and toss it in the general waste pile.
TOMs is a B corporation, which means it is graded on its environmental score. It puts a lot of effort to be more efficient.
The company has identified sustainable cotton as a great way to improve the sustainability of its products. It has set a goal of 100% by 2025. Sustainable cotton means it is grown with no harmful chemicals or genetically modified seeds. This is great for the environment because factory farms are a major concern for many areas.
In many consumer products, packaging generates a lot of waste. TOMs aims to have greener packaging. 100% of the material is from sustainably managed forests. The goal is to have 4/5 of the material made from recycled substance. TOMS is a leader.
Unlike other companies, TOMS is quite transparent with its carbon emissions. Its footprint is measured annually, reported in its annual reported and the company tries to improve it annually. As a huge boost, NBC recently named TOMs as an environmentally sustainable shoe.
TOMS is constantly developing its list of “earthwise” materials it uses in its products. If a product is “earthwise”, one of the primary parts of the shoe contains material that is friendly to an earth. TOMS sets a minimum percentage to use.
TOMS is an innovator when it comes to using environmentally sound material. This includes new fabrics like recycled polyster, which is made from post-consumer plastic bottle. This uses very little water and emits minimal greenhouse gases. Other “eco fibers” include jute, linen and hemp. These require less chemicals and water to grow, which is good for the planet.
With manufactured goods (particularly apparel) you always have to worry about labor issues. TOMS is part of the Fair Labor Association. This holds it to a high level of accountability. It even pays for third party auditors such as Elevate to look at its manufacturing facilities.
In short, yes, you do have a couple options to recycle/reuse TOMS shoes. But they can’t be thrown in the recycle bin. Regarding environmental sustainability, TOMS is an excellent corporate citizen. It goes above and beyond and holds itself to a high standard. Its shoes are made of the latest eco fibers to minimize impact to the environment.