So Sue Me: I Love Zoe & Zac


There has been lots of talk in the green community about zoe & zac, better known as Payless’ new line of eco-friendly shoes and accessories. Some greenies have said that the styles were average at best, and that they weren’t at all impressed by the selection. Some have said it doesn’t matter if Payless makes one eco-friendly line, since most of their other shoes are made from plastic or other petrochemicals. The treehugger in me slightly agrees with the last point, but here’s why I disagree overall.

1. Eco-friendly products are being exposed to consumers who never may have considered buying green

As far as I’m concerned, it’s always a good thing when big box or chain stores add more green products to their shelves. Sure, they may only be doing it so they can claim to be “green” even when the vast majority of the other products they sell are still toxic, but that’s not really the point I’m trying to make. If a consumer walks into a store like Payless looking for a cute pair of shoes, I’m just happy that they may walk out of there with a green product, even if they do so by accident. Once they read the zoe & zac shoe box (which is 100% recycled, by the way), they will get an education about why the product was made the way it was made. And maybe, just maybe, next time they’ll actually walk into a store looking for something green. Even better, maybe they’ll choose not to walk in a store at all and learn to live with less.


2. They may not be high fashion, but they certainly are cute

Simply put, you can’t please everyone. But Payless did an admirable job of trying to create styles that would appeal to a wide segment of the population. And considering the fact that these styles were meant to be made for women AND little girls, they didn’t do a bad job. I’m not in love with all of the designs, but there is enough variety that I can find a pair or two of everyday shoes. The selection I’ve shown above is pretty representative of what the zoe & zac line has to offer.


3. They are truly green and well-made

These aren’t your typical Payless shoes. Because let’s be honest — you don’t expect a pair of shoes from Payless to last a long time. But I have a pair of the flats, and let me tell you — they are well made. The stitching is tight and precise, the recycled rubber soles are thick and sturdy and the organic cotton canvas is some hardy material. I’m making no claims about how long they would last with everyday use, but if you take good care of them (like you should all your shoes), I’d be willing to bet you’d get at least a couple of years of out of them. And if you know anything about model/designer Summer Rayne Oakes, you’ll know she’s the real deal. You’ll know that she would never represent a brand if they weren’t eco-friendly and socially responsible. From the organic cotton uppers to jute-wrapped wedge heels and recycled rubber outsoles, it’s obvious why they passed her high standards.


4. Last but not least, affordable = accessible

In theory, I have no problem at all paying $300 for a pair of eco-friendly shoes that will last me forever, especially given that my shoe size will likely remain unchanged for the rest of my life (unless, of course, I get pregnant again and my feet gain another half size). But when you’re shopping on a budget or for a child who will outgrow shoes in a heartbeat, that type of investment isn’t feasible. And for some people, it is just straight up out of reach. Not gonna happen. In a million years. So why not make eco-friendly shoes and accessories, all under $30, and put them on the shelves of a store where those people are likely to shop anyway? Sounds like a good way to make sustainability accessible to the masses.

Now if I could just find out where these shoes are made, I’d be happy. Because let me tell you Payless, if they are made in China or somewhere else overseas when there are perfectly good factories right here in the U.S., you’ll lose some points in my book.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Payless isn’t paying me to say this (although I am a Payless affiliate). I just really believe in the power of making green products available to everyone. The way I see it, that’s the way we’re going to really begin changing the world. 🙂

Why It’s Green:

  • Made with sustainable materials, including organic cotton canvas, hemp, jute, linen, EVA (non-PVC) foam beds, recycled rubber soles and water-based glues
  • Packaged in shoe boxes made of recycled paperboard with minimal printing with soy-based inks
  • For each item sold, Payless will contribute $1 to The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Campaign

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By jennae

Hi! I'm Jennae Petersen and I'm the eco diva who had the bright idea to share my journey toward green living with the blogosphere. Some of you may know me as the founder of Green Your Decor, my blog about eco-friendly home decor, as a Walmart Mom, from Twitter or from my organic cotton t-shirt line Differently Clothing. Stick around for a while!


  1. I agree with you 100% and as one of the persons who, in the past (wink) would normally just shop strictly on fashion and what I like w/o the littlest thought on the environment, I can appreciate knowing that there are people out there buying Zoe and Zac shoes and accessories from Payless w/o knowing the message behind it. I look at is as 1 less toxic shoe sold but I must say, those people are not reading the shoe box and most leave the box @ the store. My suggestion? A little pamphlet attached to the shoe to tell about how and why green living is important. At least then the seed is planted and ready 2 grow!

  2. I try to support efforts of big and small companies using organic cotton whenever I can… SO when payless came out with this line I quickly ordered a pair. Fist of all, they are MADE IN CHINA. Secondly, they make my feet stink. I literally can not wear them…without being embarrassed of my foot odor. And no, I do not have this problem with any other shoes in my closet… sigh. If I wear socks I can still wear the shoes but I thought I would be wearing them all summer… alas, sadly… NO.
    .-= Disappointed in CA´s last blog ..16 months old Jaxie =-.

  3. I am excited to try these as I need a few more pairs of work flats, but I appreciate the comment on smelly feet. I have a cute pair of the TEVA eco-collection, and they make my feet so disgusting, beyond anything I had thought possible. And I had to Goodwill my vegan Earth Shoe ballet flats because they made my feet bleed. I would love to invest in a pair of Cri Du Coer or Beyond Skin’s, but I simply can’t afford them.
    .-= Heather Lin´s last blog ..Eco friendly Products | Eco friendly Shopping | Eco Style | Guffly =-.

  4. I was happy to find your post, and I agree- baby steps are better than no progress. I couldn’t seem to find online where they are manufactured, so it is a bummer if they are made in China, but again- baby steps! I’ve been searching high and low for some minimal ballet flats that are eco-friendly and socially conscious. I’m sure they are out there somewhere! 🙂

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