It used to be that you just knew it was almost officially summer when the white dresses and trousers made their appearance; in the new millennium, it's when we all break out the flip-flops. Save the hardy (usually teenage) souls who persist on wearing them throughout the winter whenever they can get away with it, most of us equate summer with semi-naked feet. Because they are such a seasonal shoe, many people think of them as disposable, but I encourage you to rethink that premise for two reasons: health and environment. 

Healthwise, the flip-flops that are the worst for your feet are those without support, made from super bendable materials (the healthy foot rule goes that if you can bend a flip-flop all the way around so that the heel touches the toe, they are too flimsy). Environmentally, disposable flip-flops contribute to our waste stream and also end up contributing to beach pollution (how many times have you seen flip-flop washed up on the sand?). They are usually cheap for a reason; they don't last long, and that's bad news for your pocket and the planet. The flip-flops below may end up costing a little more — though several are on sale — but they will keep your feet happier and reduce your flip-flop footprint.

Okabashi flip-flop

Okabashi guarantees its flops for two years and recycles them when they're done. They also have a massaging insole, ergonomic footbed, and arch support, so they are good for the feet, and are made from a BPA-free, Microplast material that "contains an anti-microbial agent" which presumably means they won't stink, and they are anti-slip and latex-free as well as being vegan (duh). The Maui comes in a bevy of beautiful summer colors, but they have plenty of other styles too. 

Isapera Anemone Sandal

The Isapera Anemone Sandal is a flip-flop with sandal attachments, so it secures to your foot. It's pretty and simple enough to wear with a summer pantsuit, a flowy dress, or jean shorts and a tank (and will dress up the latter). Handmade in Greece. 

Gabrielle Reece sandals Indosole flip-flops

The Gabrielle Reece sandals from Indosole are supportive and made from materials that will last for years and are easy on the environment too; recycled burlap bags and tires, and vegan materials, so they are animal-free. 

Patagonia flip arounds

If you're looking for a classic flip-flop, these Flip Arounds from Patagonia are a good compromise; made from 10 percent post-consumer recycled PLUSfoam (and totally recyclable at the end of life), they are meant to be durable and comfortable. 

Melissa flip-flops

Melissa shoes are made in a closed-loop factory, so no waste ever makes its way into the environment. And they last forever (seriously, I have a pair of their shoes that is going on six years old and still looking great). These cute "fun flops" inspired by a Gaetano Pesce design are made with tough plastic and an adorable bubbly design. On sale at Kaight for just $32, these will go for years. 

Related on MNN: World's most expensive flip-flops benefit rain forest conservation

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

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