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This Footwear Company Is Turning Rubbish Into Shoes

VIVOBAREFOOT's newest line diverts 17 plastic bottles from landfills with each shoe made
VIVOBAREFOOT's newest line diverts 17 plastic bottles from landfills with each shoe made | © VIVOBAREFOOT
VIVOBAREFOOT is a London-based footwear company creating eco-friendly products. Each pair of shoes in its new line helps the environment by diverting 17 plastic bottles from landfills – but the brand’s founders won’t stop there.

Cousins Galahad and Asher Clark come from a long line of cobblers. Continuing in their family’s footsteps, they pursued various footwear projects, but as their knowledge of sustainability grew – particularly through the writings of Dr John Ehrenfeld – they realised not all of their products were truly environmentally friendly.

After eliminating most of their unsustainable endeavours, the Clarks put all of their efforts into VIVOBAREFOOT. Launched in 2012 as a standalone brand, it features a thin, puncture-resistant sole that protects the foot and allows maximum sensory feedback. With a new line featuring shoes made from recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate), the company’s vision is to make the most sustainable shoes on the planet. Each pair in new the line diverts approximately 17 plastic bottles from landfill sites.

“Our goal is to make healthy shoes that are healthy for you and the planet,” Galahad Clark says. “We’re trying to lead the way a little bit and show that cool, modern shoes can be made – with no compromise on style or function – entirely out of plants.”

One million plastic bottles are bought every minute worldwide, according to EcoWatch. In 2017, the United States recycled 23 percent of the 50 billion plastic bottles consumed across the nation.

Plastic pollution is a huge issue in some parts of Rio de Janeiro © novak.elcic / Shutterstock

Like many companies and initiatives – including businesses and stores eliminating the use of plastic straws – VIVOBAREFOOT is trying to reduce humans’ impact on the planet. The company lessens the burden on the world’s landfills by taking the collected plastics, transforming them into yarn and integrating them into durable materials for their vegan, plant-based shoes. VIVOBAREFOOT has a goal to use 90 percent sustainable materials across its entire product line by 2020; it is currently nearing 70 percent as of 2018.

The 2017 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun in Utö, Sweden © VIVOBAREFOOT

VIVOBAREFOOT products can be utilised as casual lifestyle shoes or active footwear. In promotion of the latter, they sponsor 30 swimrun races around the world. A swimrun is a multi-stage competition in which participants run and swim over a cross-country or loop race course, transitioning from land to water multiple times.

“We made a whole range of performance shoes dedicated to that sport,” Clark says. “They can be used for anything, but they’re good for moving through nature, in and out of the water. They’re a wonderful way to reconnect with nature.”

The Primus Lite, one of VIVOBAREFOOT's recycled PET shoes © VIVOBAREFOOT

The company’s ultimate goal is to create a cyclical process for consumers and products. A consumer purchases a pair of shoes, wears them out and instead of disposing of them, they send the product back to VIVOBAREFOOT where it is utilised to create another pair of shoes. Clark hopes to have that process in place by 2022.

VIVOBAREFOOT is doing more than just selling eco-friendly shoes; it’s also educating consumers on the dangers of plastics and how, as a company, it is trying to combat that global issue. Visit the London shop to learn about healthy movement, building strong, natural feet, and the benefits of eco-friendly footwear.