In a continuous endeavor to be more sustainable, shop from more eco-friendly brands, and reduce my waste, I was pretty stoked when my mom gifted me a pair of Allbirds two years ago. She gave them to me because they were the most comfortable sneakers she’d ever worn, but I was ecstatic when I learned of their eco-friendliness. From that first wear, I was hooked. I wore that first pair of sustainable footwear almost exclusively for months. My first pair, the Allbirds Tree Skippers took me through two springs and summer and then when it got chilly this past autumn, I got my second pair, the Allbirds Wool Runners to see if they really could keep the chill out. I won’t keep you in suspense, they did an amazing job and winter in Korea can be pretty frigid.
In an effort to do my part and spread the word, I’ll be writing more reviews on sustainable companies and good products to invest in if you’re looking to support our environment while being a consumer. On that note, check out my post on the Pela case, a compostable phone case. Just wow! There are so many companies out there looking to be sustainable, eco-friendly, and support a clean future, so let’s support them so they can continue supporting us.
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What To Know About Allbirds The Company
Allbirds was first launched in 2016 and sustainability has always been a goal for the company. The company was founded by Tim Brown, a New Zealand native and Joey Zwillinger, an American engineer and renewables expert. Allbirds replaced petroleum with sugarcane in it’s EVA shoe soles and in so doing created the first carbon-neutral alternative to EVA foam. They didn’t stop there though, they made the entire process open source in the hope that other companies would follow suit. Something I love about a lot of the sustainable brands I follow and use is how open they are with their eco-friendly solutions and technology.
The most important thing for me when it comes to shoes is comfort and these get an A++ from me. I have a high arch and shoes like Converse that don’t have any support aren’t my jam, though I totally tried to make those work for years. These don’t need any help in supporting me and that’s WITHOUT socks. Most of their shoes are not intended to be athletic sneakers but I have been getting my 10,000 FitBit steps in daily and they work wonders. On that point though, both of my pairs did need some breaking in. I got a blister on my heel with both shoes the first time I wore them, but after a few wears, they were good to go and really formed to my foot.
Allbird Tree Skippers: I LOVE my Allbird Tree Skippers for spring through autumn use. They’re breathable and so comfortable. They’re not as restrictive as most sneakers and offer more space around the ankle and are easy to slip on and off which is huge here in Korea where you’re constantly taking shoes on and off in restaurants. They’re lightweight and surprisingly supportive in the sole. I generally wear a 7.5 but since there are no half sizes with Allbirds, I opted for the size 7. Actually, the first pair my mom got me were an 8 and we had to return them for the 7 because the 8’s were just too big. As I mentioned earlier, I wore these for three months straight pretty much after I got them, off and on throughout last summer and then all throughout last spring as well. They’re slim and go well with a lot of outfits which I appreciated. Walking in Korea on the bumpy sidewalks that are sometimes not flat means I prefer sneakers over heals every day of the week and these are great for that.
I found these shoes really great as far as cleaning. I didn’t wear socks with them ever and even when my feet were at their sweatiest in the summer, I simply slipped them off, put them in the washer, dried them and was good to go again. These were also great when they got wet. While they’re not water proof, they dry pretty quickly which was helpful.
The only issue I had with these is that the second spring when I was wearing them a little tear where my toe nail rubs against the inside of the cloth appeared. Must have rubbed for quite awhile. In some of the photos you can see where I actually just stitched the hole closed. That’s how much I love these shoes. I decided since I was halfway through this spring, I’ll just wear them until summer and then I’ll have to get a new pair of the Tree Skippers for autumn but I most definitely will be.
I love my Allbirds, and know you will too. Honestly, I wear these every day when I’m not wearing my Birkenstocks in the summer. If you’re looking for a sustainable footwear option, definitely look into Allbirds.
Allbirds Wool Runners: My Wool Runners held up really well throughout last autumn and throughout winter. I wore them while walking on ice, snow, and on ever other weather phenomenon winter threw at us. To be fair, this winter was a bit mild compared to most super frigid winters here in Seoul so keep that in mind. I wore socks with them on the coldest of days though, again, you don’t need to wear socks with any of the Allbirds shoes. I didn’t wear socks with them during the autumn because they actually kept my feet quite toasty… in a good way. The color held up well and I wore them with dresses, pants, and everything in between. The only thing that wasn’t so awesome about them was that the fur from our cats definitely seemed to gravitate toward them but like the Tree Skippers, they wash easily by tossing them into the washer and letting them air dry. Again, super comfortable and easy to wear. There was some rubbing on the back of my heel the first time I wore them, but they quickly melded to my foot and I had no issues after that. A great autumn/winter shoe option in my opinion.
Should I Wear Socks With My Allbirds?
Allbirds claims that they are completely washable so they say you don’t have to wear socks and then you take out the insole, and toss the insole and outer part in to the washer and voila, they’re like new and smell great again. Indeed, it works. I definitely prefer to wear my Allbirds without socks and they’re not itchy or uncomfortable in the least. However, if you DO want to wear socks with your Allbirds, the company actually developed their own Allbirds socks specifically designed for use with their shoes after they learned 50% of their customers prefer wearing their shoes with socks. So, they’ve got you covered no matter what.
How Can I Wash My Allbirds?
Washing the shoes is pretty easy and straight forward. Just take the insole and laces out of the shoes and remove any excess dirt or debris from the shoes. Place them in a linen bag and then wash them in cold water on the delicate cycle. DO NOT put them in the dryer. In Korea that’s not really a problem because we don’t have a dryer like most homes here, but if you’re abroad, just remember to let them air dry.
- Sustainability Is The Goal
- Allbirds takes a sustainable approach from sourcing to production and into sales.
- Allbirds makes use of 90% recycled cardboard when shipping products to consumers.
- Super Comfortable
- The shoes conform to your foot and movement and make for very comfortable frolicking, walking, skipping, or whatever else you want to do in them.
- Lightweight & Great For Travel
- If you’re an avid traveler like myself, this is a great footwear option. The shoes are extremely lightweight thus perfect if you are traveling light. When it comes to making that packing list for Korea, pack these is all I need to say.
- Not Waterproof
- I absolutely love my Allbirds, but not during monsoon season in Korea. Neither the Tree Skippers nor Wool Runners are waterproof so while they certainly won’t be hurt from getting wet, my feet will be soaked through. I didn’t run into this issue too often except for when we traveled to Hoi An and I was caught in a storm with my Tree Skippers. It took a full day with them outside to get fully dry again in Vietnam’s humidity but I had my other Burkenstocks anyway so it was cool.
- Price Point
- They’re not cheap shoes so you are making an investment. From my perspective, when they’re this comfortable AND sustainable, it’s worth it but it can hinder some shoppers at close to $100 a pop. I can say after wearing them, I’m completely satisfied with the purchase though and will be buying more.
- No Half Sizes
- Currently the company only offers shoes in full sizes. Since the shoes form to your foot, make sure you get a size lower than your half size. I’m a 7.5 usually and initially my mother got me a size 8 but they were just a bit too big. One great thing about the company though is that they offer 30 days where you can wear and road test your shoes and send them back if they aren’t to your liking. I only had the 8’s for a couple days before we sent them back for a size 7 and those have been my go-to size with the company since.
Materials Used In Production
Allbirds uses the wool from merino sheep in New Zealand where sheep outnumber humans six to one. If you didn’t know, one of the founders of the company, Tim Brown, is a native of New Zealand so it stands to reason that the company sources the material from his home country. The fibers from this wool are 20% the diameter of human hair but is breathable, temperature-regulating, and moisture-wicking. Because you can trim the sheep and get the hair easily, the process to make the shoes uses 60% less energy than when manufacturing synthetic shoes.
To ensure the sheep are still protected, Allbirds works with ZQ Merino, an organization that upholds high standards of farming, land management and animal welfare.
One recycled bottle is equal to one pair of Allbirds laces. What a great way to reuse those pesky plastic bottles.
Castor Bean Oil
This product increases the natural content in the insoles.
Allbirds also uses tree fibers in a clean closed-loop process so they can produce a renewable material that’s easier on the environment than traditional fabrics. They source the tree fiber from South African farms that minimize fertilizer and rely on rainfall instead of irrigation. This material uses 95% less water than producing traditional materials like cotton and helps to cut their carbon footprint in half. Allbirds is also Forest Stewardship Council certified which means they source material and meet strict standards to protect forests and the animals that depend on them.
Ever wonder what’s in a sole? Well, in Allbirds’ it’s sugar! Sugarcane really. Sugarcane is extremely self sufficient that when it’s processed, the biomass from the plant is extracted and used to power the mill and that’s also used to fertilize next year’s crop. Sugarcane is used to make the Allbirds’ Sweet Foam shoe sole which proves the best comfort around… seriously. Their sugarcane is sourced from southern Brazil which relies on the rainwater of the area over irrigation and is a fully renewable resource that grows quickly, removes carbon from the atmosphere, and to keep everything on the up and up, their farms are audited by a third party under rigorous standards by Proforest.
Allbirds are my go-to shoe now throughout the year. I absolutely love how comfortable they are because as a person who is constantly walking around the city of Seoul, adventuring in Korea, and picking up and carrying my daughter while I’m out it, comfort is the key. Both of these pairs of shoes are comfortable and I like the minimalist design so that they can actually suit whatever style I’m wearing that day. My go-to sustainable shoe brand and I hope they will be yours too. Check out the Allbirds shoes here and just pick your favorite color!
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