Sandals are one of my favorite things about spring and summer (yes, I'm already wearing mine!). It just seems so much more likely that you'll be running barefoot on a beach, or walking sans shoes across some soft and springy grass when your feet are already half-revealed to the world. Plus, I spend time doing toxin-free pedicures, so my toes look cute, and I like to show them off — after all, there's no such thing as a "bad foot day," right? 

Below are my picks for this summer (check out my spring fashion picks here); all are made ethically, from high-quality materials that means they will stand the test of time (and what could be more sustainable than that?) and each has a unique bit of style, while still keeping it low-key enough so that they will pair well with shorts, maxi skirts, or even just a swimsuit. 

Pons Avarcas sandals

Pons Avarcas are a traditional sandal made in Menorca, Spain, and they are incredibly comfortable. Made simply to last (they were originally the sandals worn by the island's workers), they come in all sorts of colors and are great for kids too.  

Bhava vegan sandals

Bhava creates gorgeous vegan footwear (including sandals), with truly unique designs and hand-woven, organic, recycled and cruelty free components. The Sadie colorblock sandal, above, could work for so many occasions (I can picture it with jean shorts and a tee, or a summer-weigh LBD), but the company offers many other more, shall we say, low-key designs too. 

Sseko T-strap sandal

Sseko became famous for their ribbon lace-up sandals, but their new t-strap (with interchangeable strap accessories!) is just so classic and perfect for pairing with a flowy maxi skirt — or harem pants. The company fairly employs Ugandan women to make the sandals, sources their components in East Africa, and sends their most talented workers to school on scholarship. 

Cydwoq Defender sandals

I have a pair of Cydwoq sandals that are going on their seventh summer this year (now that's quality); and I still reach for them all the time. And their new summer, 2014 offerings range from sorta badass (like the Defenders, above) to more demure and understated. Handmade from vegetable-tanned leather by a shoe designer who loves to walk, they are low-impact but high-design.

Melissa Sweet Dream sandal

Melissa shoes are made in Brazil in a closed-loop factory, which means that even though they are constructed from plastic, their production doesn't mean any toxins leaching into the environment. And this is tough plastic, too: I have had my Melissas for five years now, and they still look fresh. I'm loving the incredible color of these Sweet Dreams sandals for summer.  

Related on MNN:

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

5 sandals for summer: Free your feet
Let your toes enjoy the warmer weather too.