Naturally-derived sneakers have been launched in Japan
Many parts of sneakers, such as brand logos and shoelace tips, are made of petroleum products. Manufacturers are actively working to reduce CO2. Allbirds, a startup company in Silicon Valley, is leading the industry. The Allbirds sneakers are made with wool and fibers of eucalyptus trees, making them environmentally friendly, comfortable to wear and high-functional.
The company’s sneakers are available in two types of series: one using wool for the upper part that covers the entire foot and the other using fibers of eucalyptus trees. In addition to the basic low-top type, various types such as high-top and slip-on are available.
The wool material has been independently developed by Allbirds in cooperation with an Italian factory and has a dual-faced design with sufficient strength for use as a shoe. In addition, in consideration for sheep, the company uses only ZQ Merino, the material from sheep in a guaranteed breeding environment. It is said that wool has a small impact on the environment since it is biodegraded by microorganisms even when discarded, and there is a theory that it has been used for as long as 8000 years. In the series using fibers of eucalyptus trees, the material is sourced from South Africa, and the company has obtained FSC certification that proves the management and deforestation of forests is done with care for the environment and the local communities.
Its functional features are that it can be washed in the washing machine and is comfortable to wear without socks. It is sneakers making full use of the features of the materials: Wool keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter, and eucalyptus has good breathability and it is hard to get sweaty.
Novel materials of Allbirds’ sneakers, such as wool and eucalyptus, may attract you; however, environmentally friendly materials are not limited to those used in the upper part. The company’s goal is to use renewable materials for all components. The material of the newly developed “SweetFoam” shoe sole is a synthetic resin using biomass ethanol made from sugarcane pomace. The manufacturing process has been disclosed to competitors, which may make the productions widely spread in the future.
The material used for the insole is castor oil obtained from castor-oil plants. Castor oil is a non-food oil with chemical characteristics and is used in cosmetics and fragrances as an environmentally-friendly natural resource. In addition, the sneakers have polyester shoelaces made from recycled plastic bottles. Finished products are shipped in boxes made of recycled cardboard.
According to the company’s website, the price of adult sneakers ranges from $95 to $135 depending on the types of shoes. Shoes are one of the daily supplies that are often replaced. It seems that affordable pricing will help the item to have sustainable relationships with its fans.