Instead of tossing these in the trash when you wear them through, drop them in your compost bin, where they’ll naturally decompose (yes, the soles too).
Look down at your feet. Your shoes might seem an innocuous, but they contain lots of forms of plastic, and often leather, giving them their own sizeable carbon footprint. As all companies try to limit their plastic use, shoe manufacturers are trying to design new shoes with lower embedded emissions. Canadian shoe company Native Shoes is doing it by making a shoe that’s entirely biodegradable, because every component is made from plant material.
Their new, appropriately named Plant Shoe is made entirely from durable and natural fibers, including pineapple husk for the toe and tread made from the fibrous vegetable jute, soaked in olive oil. “That was the puzzle–how could we get an entire shoe to be biodegradable?” says Mike Belgue, Native’s creative director.
With this new development, Native wants to push the conversation around what’s possible in creating sustainable footwear. Numerous other brands, like Allbirds and Everlane, have pioneered sneaker-manufacturing tactics that are more sustainable than the traditional leather and rubber combination that’s known to be environmentally intensive. Everlane, for instance, sources recycled plastic bottles to make its sneakers, and Allbirds uses innovative eucalyptus fibers and sugarcane to form its classic runners. A new Adidas concept shoe can be shredded and fully recycled into a whole new shoe.
Native, which is based in Vancouver, has used focused, unique shoe manufacturing techniques since its founding in 2009. It crafts sneakers from ethylene vinyl acetate (or EVA, the same material used in crocs) that can formed into a mold, and last year, the brand launched an initiative to recycle those shoes by grinding them up and creating a fresh stream of material that can be repurposed as flooring or insulation. So far, they’ve recycled around 40,000 pairs, and will start to use the ground-up material to make new shoes in the near future. MORE