I Wore Shoes Made from Trees for a Week — Here’s What Happened
Shoes can be a style statement or an essential piece of fitness gear that helps you get your workout on. While having a closetful of kicks is fun, a pair of shoes that are both fashionable and functional is a welcome addition to any woman’s collection. Since I live in a city apartment where closet space is especially minimal, I’m forever trying to discover products that help me save space. When I recently heard about adored shoe brand Allbirds‘ new Tree Collection, I was intrigued. The brand, best known for its streamlined design and comfy wool kicks, introduced a breathable and durable material made from eucalyptus tree pulp. Since I spend my days as a small business owner in the city often dashing from one place to the next, I decided to put ‘em to the test by wearing just this pair of shoes for a whole week. Here’s how it went.
Day 1: Keeping it Simple
The first thing I really appreciated about my boat shoe (called the Skipper; $95) was how easy it was to pair with all of the basics in my closet. The minimalist design comes in easy-to-wear colors (I opted for a classic navy hue) and has knitted, mesh-like fabric that’s a great match for everything from jeans and sweaters to leggings. I loved that there’s no logo and a light-colored sole too, and was surprised by how flattering the footwear actually was.
My schedule that day was pretty standard: I planned to take an 8:30 Barre Method class, hail a Lyft line to the Amazon Web Loft downtown to co-work, walk the three miles back home, and finish up some work at home after dinner. In typical SF fashion, I rocked my fave leggings and layered on a cozy sweater to wear with my kicks all day long — sporty enough to wear to exercise, and professional-looking enough for my work-focused afternoon.
Days 2-4: Getting those steps In
The style might’ve been the first thing that drew me to my new Allbirds tree shoes, but I quickly noticed how comfortable they were on my sockless three-mile walk home the day before. I’m super prone to blisters — especially when breaking in new sneakers or slip-ons — and was shocked to find that I didn’t have any uncomfortable rubbing or irritation during my trek. This was a first for me! Another benefit of the eucalyptus tree shoe material is how durable and breathable it is; though I was kind of hesitant to walk for a few miles without socks, my feet felt surprisingly cool and refreshed — even while the rest of me heated up while climbing a few of San Francisco’s steep hills.
In addition to walking to wherever I need to be during the day, I’m a huge fan of taking long walks at night to decompress and unwind. I decided to truly put my new sneakers to the test, replacing my Nike pair and wearing my tree kicks for six to nine miles each day. The result? Great! My shoes didn’t smell, my feet felt good, and most importantly, the rest of my body felt just as great as it would in a pair of truly supportive walking sneakers.
Day 5: the sustainability factor
By the fifth day of my experiment, I was truly loving my tree shoes. In fact, I’d already texted my mom and sister about them, gushed to my inner circle, and considered buying my boyfriend a pair so he could experience the magic for himself. I decided to learn more about the company and exactly how they’re eco-friendly, which is another cool aspect of the unique footwear.
Turns out, in addition to the sustainable materials that make the actual shoes, the company does a few extra things to make a seriously sustainable product that people love. First, it’s a certified B Corp; this means it has to meet very specific standards for social and environmental performance — as well as maintaining transparency and accountability. Next, Allbirds partners with Soles4Souls to recycle gently used pairs. Lastly, they produce and use recycled packaging that counts their shoebox, shopping bag, and mailer as a single box. Color me impressed!
Day 6: Wash ‘Em Up
I was nearing the end of my seven-day experiment, and while it had been mostly sunny in the city, it’d finally rained in the past 36 hours. While I found my shoes didn’t feel great in wet conditions (and I wouldn’t recommend the mesh-like fabric for obvious reasons when it pours), I realized that getting my shoes a little bit dirty served as a great excuse to test how easy it was to wash them. I started the day with a jaunt through the Presidio, a national park and recreational hub in San Francisco. Walking along the trail, my shoes got mud on them.
When I got home, I followed the washing instructions. First, I took out the removable insoles and the laces, then I used a towel to take off the dirt and mud clumps. Next, I put my shoes in the wash solo and ran them on a cold cycle. Finally, I set them on top of the dryer so they could air dry; the directions note that this kind of kicks shouldn’t go in the dryer. Within 24 hours, my tree shoes were pretty much as good as new.
Day 7: final thoughts
I’ve worn nothing but my tree shoes for a solid week, and save a couple of rainy days, I don’t have a complaint in the world. I’m so sold on my Skipper style that I’ve scoped out the sneaker version as another potential addition to my closet. Though I’m happy to reincorporate a few of my favorite shoes back into my wardrobe for style, I’m thrilled to have a new go-to pair that matches my clothes and works for almost all of my daily activities!
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(Featured photo via @allbirds)