Summer feet need fresh air, not sandals that sweat toxins. But PVC vinyl, an ubiquitous material in everything from flip-flops to shower curtains to teething toys, tends to release toxic phthalate plasticizers in the heat. Plus, it's the least recyclable plastic, making it an Earth-unfriendly as well as personally unhealthy buy. And an unnecessary one, as there are lots of greener waterproof alternatives. Here's a quick list of PVC-free summer footwear:
Patagonia thongs for men, women and children also use 20 percent and 15 percent recycled materials in outsoles and midsoles, respectively.
Chaco sandals and flip-flops (or slippers, the Hawaiian term) for men, women, and children, including toddlers, often contain some recycled content.
Mizuno has a PVC-free global initiatived; check out their PVC-free unisex sport slides.
Adidas has many PVC-free options, including these slides for girls.
Ditto Nike, which has these leather-strapped EVA-soled boys' slippers.
Simple Shoes' Toetami is made from rubber and EVA.
The North Face Base Camp thong.
We're still flip-flopping about Crocs, whose composition the company will not disclose, calling it a proprietary secret. We don't like secrets! However, they're taking a positive step by accepting all Crocs for recycling and making them into 20 percent post-consumer-recycled new crocs, including the Cayman for kids.
For those summer downpours, toddlers will love these irresistable green frog-face Uda Rainboots from Target. Will they wear them is another question, but at least if they chew them, they won't get slimed by phthalates.
This article originally appeared in Plenty in June 2008. The story was moved to MNN.com.