are doc martens environmentally friendly

Are Doc Martens Environmentally Friendly? (Answered)

Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by Annie Baldwin

Doc Martens has built a reputation for durable and timeless footwear over the past six decades.

But how environmentally friendly are these iconic boots really?

Let’s take a look at the nitty-gritty facts.

Are Doc Martens Environmentally Friendly?

vegan leather doc martens
Image Credit: Thred

Doc Martens footwear has a negative impact on the environment due to its limited use of eco-friendly materials.

The company prioritizes durability over sustainability.

While Doc Martens sources some ethical leathers and recycled materials, its overall environmental practices need significant improvement.

The Vegan Collection uses synthetic materials that are not eco-friendly.

In summary, Doc Martens does not currently produce environmentally friendly footwear.

Key Points

  • Doc Martens uses limited eco-friendly materials in production
  • The company prioritizes durability over sustainability
  • Vegan Collection relies on petroleum-based synthetics

Our Opinion

In my expert opinion, Doc Martens falls short as an environmentally sustainable footwear brand.

While the durability of its shoes is admirable, Doc Martens needs to rapidly increase its use of eco-friendly materials, improve manufacturing practices, and provide more supply chain transparency.

The Vegan Collection is a step in the right direction, but petroleum-based synthetics have negative environmental impacts.

I believe Doc Martens has the opportunity to become a leader in sustainable fashion, but it must make meaningful changes to its business model and production.

The company’s 2030 goals are encouraging, but bolder, swifter action is required to become an environmentally friendly brand.

Are Dr. Martens Vegan?

materials used on vegan chelsea boot
Image Credit: Design Life-Cycle

Doc Martens offers a Vegan Collection that aims to maintain the iconic Doc Martens look and feel without using animal products. The vegan boots and shoes are made from synthetic materials like polyurethane rather than leather.

While these vegan Docs are animal-friendly, the synthetic materials used are not considered eco-friendly. The company is taking steps in the right direction by using some recycled polyester, but most of its products still rely heavily on virgin plastics.

Doc Martens has expressed a goal of eliminating its use of fossil-fuel-based chemicals and transitioning to fully sustainable materials by 2030. But at this time, most of its footwear cannot be considered environmentally friendly.

The company does have ethical manufacturing policies and partners with Leather Working Group-certified tanneries. However, it lacks transparency regarding its supply chain and manufacturing processes.

Do Dr. Martens Use Eco-Friendly Materials?

doc marten vegan boots
Image Credit: Quartz

When it comes to eco-friendly materials, Doc Martens has room for improvement. The brand’s core products like its Original boots and shoes are made from leather and synthetic materials that rely heavily on virgin plastics and chemicals.

Some Doc Martens lines use small amounts of recycled polyester for lining and decoration. However, the majority are not made from sustainable materials currently.

The company has set internal goals to eliminate its use of fossil-fuel-based chemicals and transition to renewable or recycled materials by 2030. This is part of its aim to become carbon neutral and reduce waste across manufacturing and operations.

Doc Martens claims to be working closely with material suppliers to develop more sustainable options. But concrete details on these efforts are lacking.

While they have a long way to go, Doc Martens seems to be taking steps in the right direction when it comes to using eco-friendly materials. But the brand is not there yet. Most Doc Martens today are made from virgin plastics and leather, with minimal recycled content.

How Sustainable Is Dr. Martens Leather?

When it comes to the leather used in its iconic boots and shoes, Dr. Martens has a mixed track record on sustainability.

On the plus side, Doc Martens sources most of its leather from tanneries in Europe. This allows for greater supply chain transparency and oversight compared to leather sourced from developing nations.

The brand also claims to work closely with its tanneries to improve environmental standards. All tanneries in its supply chain must comply with its Restricted Substances List and Code of Conduct.

However, Doc Martens does not use leather certified to any environmental sustainability standards. Details on the environmental practices of its tanneries are lacking.

The company is working to increase its use of “responsibly sourced” leather. But currently, most Doc Martens leather comes from conventional tanning processes using harsh chemicals.

In 2020, Doc Martens used small amounts of leather certified to the Leather Working Group’s Gold rating. But this represented less than 1% of its leather. Expanding certified sustainable leather remains an opportunity.

While Doc Martens has strong supply chain oversight, its leather still lags behind when it comes to verified sustainability practices. The brand has room to improve by increasing its use of certified sustainable leather.

Does Dr. Martens Have Ethical Labor Practices?

When it comes to labor practices, Dr. Martens has taken steps to ensure worker rights but still faces challenges.

On the positive side, Doc Martens joined the Ethical Trading Initiative in 2017. This organization promotes workers’ rights globally. As a member, Doc Martens agrees to adopt the ETI Base Code on labor practices.

The company also conducts regular audits of its tier-1 suppliers. In 2020, it audited 100% of these suppliers on ethical trade practices. Any violations identified must be remediated.

However, most of Doc Martens’ production is through contract manufacturers in Asia, not its own factories. This makes supply chain oversight more difficult.

The company does not publicly report on working conditions deeper in its supply chain. So it’s unclear how well worker rights are protected at sub-contracted facilities.

While Doc Martens has taken meaningful steps, some concerns remain about its supply chain transparency and oversight. As the brand grows globally, ensuring fair working conditions throughout its extended supply chain will be an ongoing challenge.

Is Dr. Martens Part of the Leather Working Group?

When it comes to sourcing leather responsibly, Dr. Martens is a member of the Leather Working Group. This organization promotes sustainable practices in the leather industry.

As part of the LWG, Doc Martens sources leather only from tanneries that meet strict environmental standards. These tanneries must control their water, energy, and waste. They’re also assessed on labor practices.

Currently, Dr. Martens sources all its leather from LWG-rated tanneries. This covers leather used in its footwear, bags, and other products.

By being part of the LWG, Doc Martens collaborates with other brands to drive improvements in the leather supply chain. Together, they work to raise the bar on sustainability issues.

Doc Martens publishes a list of its approved tanneries that meet LWG standards. This level of supply chain transparency is positive.

Overall, Dr. Martens’ LWG membership enables it to source leather responsibly. This reduces the brand’s environmental impact and promotes ethical practices.


Are Dr. Martens Good for the Environment?

Dr. Martens has a mixed record when it comes to sustainability and reducing its environmental impact. The brand aims to source leather from Leather Working Group-certified tanneries and uses some eco-friendly materials, but it still relies heavily on PVC and petroleum-based synthetics. More work is needed to improve its green credentials.

Are Dr. Martens Recyclable?

No, most Dr. Martens shoes are not recyclable. The materials used in their construction, especially PVC and petroleum-based synthetics, make them difficult to recycle. The brand does not currently offer any shoe recycling programs.

Are Doc Martens Real Leather or Vegan?

Doc Martens offers both leather and vegan shoes. Their classic styles are made from real leather, while the vegan collection uses synthetic materials. Customers can choose between real or vegan leather when purchasing Doc Martens.

Do Doc Martens Make Vegan Shoes?

Yes, Doc Martens has a vegan collection that offers many of their classic styles made with synthetic materials instead of real leather. The vegan shoes mimic the look and feel of leather while being animal-free.


Doc Martens footwear has some negative environmental impacts due to the limited use of eco-friendly materials in production. The brand prioritizes durability over sustainability. While Doc Martens aims to source ethical leather and uses some recycled materials, its overall environmental rating needs improvement. The Vegan Collection provides animal-friendly options but relies on petroleum-based synthetics. Doc Martens maintains its iconic styles in the vegan versions. The company has ethical trading policies but lacks supply chain transparency. Doc Martens plans to eliminate fossil-fuel chemicals and transition to sustainable production by 2030. Overall, Doc Martens are not considered environmentally friendly footwear.

Scroll to Top