Back to school shoes aren’t just a tradition; they’re often a necessity.

All the fresh air and water that children’s feet get in the summer must make their feet grow because last year’s school shoes never fit in September.

Usually, kids’ feet are in sandals all summer and parents never notice that their toes are spilling out over the top by the middle of August.

Your kids, of course, want the latest styles. You, of course, want eco-friendly back to school shoes that create minimal impact on the earth and maximum appreciation in your kids’ eyes.

Fortunately, it’s possible to please you, your children and the planet. Here are some options for environmentally friendly shoes for back to school that you and your kids will love.

For the girls

Ballet flats and Maryjanes are the hottest trends for girls this year. For the smallest fashionistas, Pedoodles makes adorable Pink Sugar Plum Eco-Friendly Maryjane Ballet Shoes ($36) for girls to toddle back to preschool in style.

Payless makes a very affordable eco-friendly shoe line, and there are several ballet flats for older girls from the Zoe & Zac line. They offer a funky Hazel Tie-Dye Ballet Flat ($24.99) made from organic cotton and a recycled sole that comes in green or black. They also offer the Anise Bow Flat ($24.99) that comes in the always useful basic black or hazel and lavender.

Simple Shoes makes a super hip half ballet flat/half sneaker in eco-friendly suede called the Carousel Grommet in black or this year’s hottest color, gray (they call it charcoal). A recycled PET ribbon can be worn several different ways through the grommets.

UGG style boots continue to be popular, and this year the kids will be sporting the shorter versions of shearling boots. Ecowool out of New Zealand offers an earth-friendlier and animal-friendlier alternative shearling boot with materials from animals and plants that live and grow outdoors in a pure clean, green environment. They have a child’s sheepskin boot in this year’s lower style that runs for about $88 (before shipping and handling) and a short sheepskin boot for older kids that comes in chocolate, chestnut and black ($107).

For the boys

Skateboard style sneakers are what most boys will be wearing this fall, and there are several eco-friendly back to school sneaker options for boys. Simple Shoes Satire sneakers are styled like traditional skateboard sneakers but they are an eco-friendlier skateboard style. Made with organic and recycled materials, these sneakers come in black, chocolate chip, and charcoal colors for big boys and little boys ($42).

Other eco-friendly sneakers for boys include Keen’s Coronado Lace ($45), New Balance’s 070 Collection ($50), and Sperry Top-Sider Kids’ Capsize ($45).

Sports cleats

The fall means soccer, football and fall baseball for many boys and girls, and last spring’s cleats probably don’t fit anymore.

If you’re looking for new cleats, Nike makes an eco-friendly Junior Marquis TF (10c-6y) Kids' Soccer Cleat ($30) with recycled materials.

If you’re into reusing, secondhand cleats can be found online on or eBay. You can also look on Craigslist in your area. Thrift stores, consignment stores, and Play it Again Sports are all places you can go to look for second-hand cleats.


Other sources

Not all kids need the latest styles, but all kids need shoes. Here are a few sites to check out for all styles of eco-friendly, back to school shoes for kids who want to create their own style.

  • Keds – Keds makes two styles of canvas sneakers from organic materials for older girls.
  • Toms – Not only are Toms shoes environmentally friendly; they are also socially responsible. When you purchase a pair of Toms, a second pair gets donated to a child in need.
  • Zappos – Zappos sells all sorts of shoes, but they make it easy to search for eco-friendly back to school shoes for kids just by searching for the term “eco friendly” on their site.
  • Timberland Earthkeepers – For pre-teens and teens, try the women’s and men’s Earthkeeper styles from Timberland. Sandals, sneakers, and more are offered from eco-friendly materials.
Got more ideas for back to school shoes? Leave them in the comments below.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.