Each year, 25 billion pairs of shoes are manufactured world-wide.
Sadly, almost none of these are made sustainably, making the textile industry the world’s second largest polluter behind oil and gas. Because we know that sixty to seventy percent of the environmental footprint of a pair of shoes is a result of the product’s materials, we’ve made eco-construction the central pillar of SAOLA’s shoe development.
We are outdoor lovers, we are parents of future generations, and we are dedicated to making a difference. We are challenging the norms, asking the tough questions, and continually looking for better solutions. It’s not easy, but if it were, everyone would be doing it, right?
The uppers of SAOLA shoes are made with recycled plastic bottles, otherwise known as PET. You know it as the plastic used to make food packaging and plastic water bottles (cringe). When recycled, PET goes through a cleaning, grinding, and melting process that results in thread, giving second life to plastic and reducing trash in our landfills. And what happens to this thread you might ask? Well, it’s then woven into various fabrics to create the comfy and stylish uppers for SAOLA shoes. The technology has come so far that we are now able to mimic animal-based materials like leather and suede using recycled plastic, too. If we didn’t tell you they were recycled shoes, you’d never know it.
Depending on the style, each pair of SAOLA shoes contains between 3 and 7 recycled PET bottles. And one more thing. Our PET supplier is accredited by the "Recycled Global Standard" certification, which ensures the traceability of the production line of these materials. That's the way we can produce recycled plastic shoes.
SAOLA insoles and many of the shoes’ outsoles are made with recycled Algae Foam.
Rising temperatures and excess chemicals in our lakes and rivers contribute to the growth of algae - harming the lives of plants, animals, and humans. We’ve partnered with the team at Bloom Foam to harvest harmful algae and create eco-friendly, bio-sourced materials for the insoles and outsoles of our shoes. Bloom Foam removes harmful algae from the water and puts it through a process that dries, crushes and converts it into powder. This powder is then mixed with EVA (a synthetic material) to become Algae Foam, used for sole construction. Using Algae Foam allows us to use fifteen to twenty percent less synthetic materials in our soles, cleans lakes of harmful algae, and prevents the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Now that’s what we call a win for mother nature, and a win for your feet.
We use organic cotton for our laces.
Did you know that cotton cultivation represents only 2.4% of the agricultural area, but that it uses nearly one quarter of the pesticides sold in the world? Gah!
That's why we use organic cotton for our recycled shoes. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers are replaced by natural compost, and this cotton requires half as much water as traditional cotton. The end-result is cotton that is softer, more flexible, and way kinder to the planet.
The advantage of cork is that if you want to wear your shoes barefoot, cork will be very comfortable. You will feel like you are walking on a cloud.
The bark is harvested without impacting the trees that continue to grow. They thus generate a new bark which will be taken again a few years later.