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Why I love Rothy's shoes: Sustainability, style and comfort

Sustainable shoe brand Rothy's says it's turned more than 50 million water bottles into shoes that, in my book, score high in fashionability and comfort.
Rothy's cherry-colored shoes
Rothy's manufactures their shoes and bags from a unique thread made out of water bottles collected from the Earth's oceans. Rothy's

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Today is Earth Day, marking the 50th annual Earth Day since 1970. It may be more difficult to embrace this milestone as stay-at-home orders are limiting people’s outdoor exposure. But despite obstacles to rally for climate change, it’s still possible to find small ways to minimize environmental impact at home — in your kitchen, bathroom or bedroom, for example.

I’m no climate change super activist, but I do my best to incorporate eco-friendly products like reusable straws and recycled bags into my daily routine. Until recently, those were really the only steps I took toward living an eco-minded life. Thanks to curated shopping ads on my social feeds — where I spend a significant part of my professional time researching content — I learned that being climate-conscious was becoming extremely popular in the world of fashion. It was Instagram that kept introducing me to Rothy’s and its line of sustainable footwear. I wasn’t even on the hunt for an eco-friendly shoe. I was seeking style and comfort. But Rothy’s checked off both of those boxes, and invested in reducing its environmental impact: That’s what led me to buy one of their bestsellers — The Flat.

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Why I fell in love with Rothy’s shoes

The Rothy’s Flat is unlike any shoe I’ve worn before. I bought a pair thinking they would be a good shoe for work since they looked polished and versatile. What I didn’t realize is that they were also comfortable enough to wear around the city — and I’m a person who likes to explore on foot. They required little break-in time, too — a major plus since most of my shoes involve a two-week blister period.

Living in New York City also presents its challenges for any typical shoe lover (myself included). Whether I misstep into a puddle or drop food when someone cuts me off on a sidewalk, it doesn’t take long for my shoes to experience some wear. Even after donning my Rothy’s flats for weeks, they held their shape and the material didn’t show any signs of fading or tearing. If you spill your coffee on the shoes, it will certainly leave a mark, but the shoes are machine washable.

Rothy's Flat

My Rothy’s Flats don’t have flashy embellishments or a recognizable logo. What they do have is a timeless silhouette that goes with everything from jeans to dresses — office-appropriate or not. I found myself wearing them often enough that I purchased another pair, this time in The Point.

Rothy’s Flat, the specs

It's more than style that keeps Rothy's shoes dear to my heart.

  • The insoles and outsoles of the shoes are machine washable. Since they’re made with up-cycled materials, they're less likely to shrink.
  • The shoes are created using a 3D knitting machine. This greatly reduces how much waste is created with each new pair.
  • Plastic bottles can take up to 450 years to decompose. Since Rothy’s spins plastic bottles into thread, they say their shoes gain significant durability
  • You can get shoes in 11 different colors and patterns — from a versatile navy to a bold leopard print.

Why I fell in love with Rothy’s, the brand

In 2016, Rothy’s launched its first shoe. The company went through four years of research and development before their first product showcased, according to a spokesperson. They didn’t gain traction until two years later when, in 2018, Meghan Markle publicly wore The Point shoes and introduced the brand to the masses, according to Forbes.

Rothy’s shoes are made of water bottles

Instead of using cotton, polyester or rubber-based materials, Rothy's creates their shoes and bags from a unique thread spun from water bottles they collect from oceans across the globe. To create the signature thread, Rothy's puts the plastic bottles through a three-step process:

  1. A machine chips the collected water bottles into flakes.

  2. Pressure is used to press the flakes into small pellets.

  3. Using a 3D knitting process — a machine transforms the pellets into spools of thread, which are in turn dyed and knitted into footwear and bags.

Currently, Rothy's estimates it hasrecycled more than 53,614,900 water bottles to use in their products.

Rothy's aims to be a 'zero waste' company

Through the process of 3D knitting, the brand is able to create their products with little-to-no waste, the company claims. Rothy's programs its equipment to craft the exact shape of the shoe without needing to cut or rid of any material.

Rothy's packages are sustainable, too

The boxes used to ship their products are made from 85 percent post-consumer recycled materials. They’re also vegan and biodegradable. Their durable material allows them to avoid additional packaging, the brand says.

Other styles from Rothy's

The Flat continues to be one of the bestselling items on the site — and still my favorite. Once it’s time to do so, I’ll definitely be adding more of the Flat to my collection. If you’re on the lookout for a practical shoe that is eco-friendly and designed to stand the test of time, you may want to consider some of Rothy’s additional styles, including their brand new sandal collection. I own The Sneaker and The Chelsea Boot in addition to the original pointed-toe flat — if you’re in need of a good walking shoe, these may be good options. Each style is offered in a variety of colors and patterns so you can easily change up your look.

In March, the brand introduced a collection of bags created from the same material as their shoes.

The Point

This modern, pointed flat can be dressed up or down. They have no break-in period so you can start wearing them immediately with little discomfort.

The Loafer

The Loafer is great for lounging, taking the dog for a walk or doing chores around the home. It comes in solid colors as well as unique patterns.

The Mary Jane

The polished bow on The Mary Jane is an upgrade to the original Point shoe.

The Sneaker

The Sneaker is a great go-to shoe because it can be worn year-round. It showcases an ivory outsole and comes in eight versatile colors.

The Chelsea Boot

If you’re looking for a shoe with more coverage and support, the Chelsea Boot may be a good option. It's crafted with a stitch-less design that eliminates uncomfortable seams.

The Knot

The Knot comes in four colors and is finished with a light brown, vegan outsole.

The Triple Band

This warm-weather shoe features a soft footbed made with plant-based materials.

The Handbag

The Handbag is the brand’s signature bag. It sports a top handle and a detachable strap so you can wear it multiple ways.

The Essential Tote

The Essential Tote features a zipper closure and a base insert for structure. It also has an interior magnet to easily attach The Essential Pouch.

More sustainable product recommendations

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