Everybody knows that plastic is a major contributor to the planet’s pollution problems. It is also common knowledge that for every problem there is a solution. In the case of pollution caused by plastic waste, a shoemaking company called Vivobarefoot is stepping in to help solve the point at issue by making shoes out of recycled bottles.
According to a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (in partnership with the World Economic Forum), it is predicted that by 2050 plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish. To quantify this in a visually comprehensible manner they explain that the amount of plastic being tossed into the oceans is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. Plastic Oceans reports that more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. It is estimated that around 5 trillion pieces of plastic are currently floating in our oceans.
Plastic is such a focus of concern because it can take up to 400 years for the material to decompose (biodegrade) therefore making it quite a permanent item. If left as waste this is a catastrophe. If repurposed and recycled into something usable (especially in everyday life) it is an extremely durable material option. While most bottles are made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate), a highly recyclable material, fewer than half the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling.
Well, shoes are definitely an everyday life necessity and Vivobarefoot is taking advantage of the enduring material to make footwear. The recycled plastic will be reworked into durable, high-performance shoes deployed to mimic and stabilize the anatomy of the human foot. Each pair will use 17 disposable water bottles.
Furthermore, these shoes are good for the wellness of the environment as well as your health. According to the company: “The human foot is a biomechanical masterpiece that can cope with more than we ask it to nowadays. By cramming it into a modern shoe, you negate its natural function. Your feet have 200,000 nerves in them — the same as your hands. By loading up on padding, you muffle the sensory feedback your brain would otherwise receive, resulting in clumsier, less skillful movement. Our shoes, like most barefoot pairs, are based upon the idea that a wider, minimalist shoe will allow the foot to function as it was designed to function. Wearers will benefit from the sensory input of their feet as well as their hands for a potential increase in balance and accuracy, and the muscles in the leg may develop more naturally and cohesively.”
Not only is Vivobarefoot reducing the number of plastic bottles in our oceans, but they’ve also created an education program that spreads awareness about how harmful plastic is for sea life. This footwear brand is on a mission to spread the word and to help clean up our waters and rid the sea of plastic, 17 bottles at a time! They hope this line will be part of a larger trend to combat our desensitization to pollution.
So, if you can’t take part in ocean cleanups, maybe you can give back to our planet by wearing sustainable shoes. Because however, it may be, whether grand or small, with each person contributing to the maintenance of our planet, the combined efforts will go a long way.
The shoes can be purchased for children and adults for between $75 and $190 on the Vivobarefoot website.