ECO SNEAKERS, MAKING A DIFFERENCE STEP BY STEP.
As we become more aware of what we put in our plates, and that the shelves of the supermarkets and beauty aisles fill up each year a little more with eco and bio products, we can’t help but wonder what is happening inside our wardrobes. Over the past few years we’ve been lusting over several brands’ eco and responsible lines, which claim to use raw materials produced in an environmentally friendly manner but also in audited and favourable working conditions throughout the work chain.
Today, I want to focus on my feet. Yes, my feet! Being an eager pedestrian, sneakers turn out to be my partners in crime and it seems like I’m not the only one judging by the amount of Stan Smith, Converse and other brand names I see tramp the street daily. Walk more to drive less, the comfort of the sneaker allows us to leave the car in the parking lot and exercise beyond the running track or the gym. However in terms of carbon footprint, the sneaker is far from being neutral. Most frequently made in China from synthetic materials, the sneaker is composed of a large quantity of small pieces who’s assembly requires an important workload. It’s energy cost is therefore high. Are there any alternatives? Is it possible to walk « green », without necessarily sacrificing our appearance? The answer is Yes, let me convince you!
It’s already been several years that I have converted myself to the brand Veja. If the look and wide spread range offer of this French brand convinced me, its story seduced me. Veja buys its cotton from agricultural exploitations in Brazil that privileges polyculture and enables producers to harvest their basic food. In turn the rubber is collected in the Amazon forest. Thanks to a process developed by the university of Brasilia, producers can themselves transform latex into rubber leaves. This not only means skipping an industrial step but also allows producers to sell a half finished product for a higher price. This natural rubber and fair trade cotton is then transformed in Brazil in an ethically audited factory that has been producing sneakers since 2005. These trainers are then brought back to France by boat, and dispatched by barge into Paris. Packaged in boxes made from recycled cardboard, produced on demand, no advertisement, if you still need to be convinced have a look at the styles below.
In another corner of the world, I also fell for Ethletic’s story. The origin of this other ethical shoe brand: the football. By supplying rubber produced to ensure sustainable management of the forests of Sri Lanka, Ethletic has created a fabrication system aimed to improve the lives of the workers hired to sew footballs. From footballs to sneakers, a step that the company would eventually take several years later. In 2010, the Ethletic sneaker became the first worldwide sneaker to be certified with the seal of quality fair for biological cotton ( cultivated in India). On top of that, for every order made with their manufacturer, Ehtletic pays 15% of the value of the order to the association of social assistance that gathers the workers. The funds collected are then used as they wish, whether is be for their children’s education or medical care for example.
Switzerland is not asleep when it comes to sneakers that win us over for their style and story. Startup created by a Swiss couple, Baabuk was born after receiving a pair of traditional wool russian socks as a gift. It’s with boots and slippers that the brand first got recognized. Successful with their first launch, Baabuk is now preparing to launch a sneaker range. Made by hand, their production in wool offers different qualities : the “second skin” comfort of the wool ( warm enough to be worn in winter without socks), its great resistance, the warmth it procures all while maintaing the foot dry thanks to its breathing properties, which reduces bacteria and bad smells. The work on the wool done in Nepal and elaborated by the startup guaranties a material which is not only resistant to water and fire but is also easy to take care of. As for me, I love their original colours and their cozy aspect. A must for the grey days.
And finally let’s have a look at the brand best known for its three stripes. Adidas has been talked about a lot recently with the new prototype of a revolutionary eco sneaker. By mobilizing the Sea Sherpard Conservation association who struggled for 110 days to scoop up plastic waste from the ocean, Adidas aims to create new sustainable materials and innovations.
That’s how the Primeknits are born, an upper woven using fibers produced from recycled waste that pollutes our ocean. Aside from promoting the collection of waste and giving it a new life, weaving fibers directly in the shape of the foot avoids further waste.
Are you ready to step into eco sneakers?
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