Efforts to be greener have shoe manufacturers working from the ground up. More and more companies are phasing out the slow-to-decompose synthetic materials traditionally used in the composition of sturdy soles. The three brands below are innovating by embracing biodegradable materials that afford improved durability with impressive comfort.
: Two years ago, the brothers behind this eco-minded Dutch company conceived the inconceivable: footwear that leaves no footprint. The resulting sneaker line debuted at Amsterdam International Fashion Week 2011
, where the design concept was awarded second prize in the Green Fashion
competition. The sneaker’s uppers are natural bio-d canvas, a go-to fabric when it comes to sustainable style. But this shoe’s kicker is its seed-embedded cork sole. Plant or compost a worn-out pair and they will decompose completely, sprouting fresh flowers as they do. Think of them as a tempered take on guerilla gardening
. The new 2011 Virgin Collection
features six styles in four colors.
Industry of All Nations
: Named for the enterprising spirit of the 1853 World’s Fair
, this LA-based shoe and denim brand produces 100% biodegradable summertime slip-ons. Their no-nonsense, plimsoll-espadrille
hybrid style evokes the simplicity of TOMS classics
. However, Industry distinguishes itself with a woven rope sole, a simultaneous ode to jute
, one of the strongest natural fibers and a nod to the persistent nautical trend
. The rope soles are woven in a small agricultural village in Uruguay, where Industry employs the inhabitant population to execute a century-old production technique in an effort to preserve local custom and protect villagers from having to seek work in urban centers.
Serious runners don’t have many options for sneakers that are both supportive of their feet and mindful of the environment. But earth-loving athletes can now find comfort running in their Brooks. Traditionally, the running shoe midsole—which provides stability and absorbs shock—has been made with EVA,
a synthetic compound that can take more than 1,000 years to decompose. But, most Brooks styles now feature patented BioMoGo midsoles
, which biodegrade 50 times faster than their EVA counterparts. If bio-d midsoles sound like a minor enhancement, take note of this estimate: over 25 years, BioMoGo technology could save nearly 30 million pounds of landfill waste.