what impact does footwear have on the planet?
24 billion pairs of shoes are produced per year.
That’s a lot of reasons for the way they are designed to truly matter.
But what impacts are these shoes having on the planet, and how are we designing differently?
A big footprint
Footwear is a growing multi-billion-dollar industry heavily reliant on the over-consumption of products made from unsustainable materials. This comes at a high social and environmental cost with footwear being responsible for 1.4% of global greenhouse emissions.
The vast majority of shoes contain plastics which don’t biodegrade. Indeed, the degradation of synthetic soles is the 7th biggest contributor to microplastic pollution.
Many of these plastics are hidden. Others are combined with bio-polymers, lessening the raw material impact, though commonly still not being biodegradable once processed.
Leather is used extensively in footwear too. The production of which is catastrophic for the environment in terms of deforestation, biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions.
And although tanning methods are improving, the majority are still extremely water intensive rely on harmful chemicals.
Clearly footwear needs a rethink.
Our philosophy puts planetary-wellbeing at the heart of the design process. Meaning we act responsibly with the earth’s resources. Creating products that look good and last. That can be worn again and again.
We created a decision-making framework that considers the key environmental factors affecting the climate – emissions, pollution, biodiversity, land use and water use. We consider all of these factors when selecting every material that goes into our shoes.
Our mission was to look for solutions that have a better impact on the environment. We decided to do this by eliminating leather, greatly reducing plastic usage, and working with plant-based solutions.
We use plant-based, carbon-absorbing materials. Utilising incredible properties in nature that are strong, durable, and easily replenished. Creating shoes that are better for the earth and better for your feet.
We focus on materials harvested from trees due to their capacity to sequester high amounts of CO2 - and the fact the trees used stay in the ground. The coconut and cork are examples of this, along with the natural latex used in our soles and padding.
And where possible, our priority is to use up-cycled waste materials such as pineapple leaves and coconut husk fibres. This helps to prevent the release of carbon through the normal disposal or burning of these materials. Using by-products also means there is no need for any extra land, water or fertiliser during the growth phase and we’re able to add value to farming communities, helping to sustain plant-based, decarbonising economies.
Our mission is to inspire change in the footwear industry. To share everything we have learnt about sustainable design and the challenges we faced. Encouraging people to question everything and demand more. Because education is power.
Thanks for being part of our community working towards change.