Biodegradable shoesEthical Arts & Fashion News & Features
This article first appeared in our Restoration Revolution issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 06 Sept 2019. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Worldwide, we throw away nine million tonnes of shoes each year – and even disposing of your footwear ‘correctly’ has a big environmental impact. As a solution, NOAH Italian Vegan Shoes has launched a range of organic shoes made from biodegradable materials.
THE PROBLEM WITH LEATHER
‘The footwear industry has a very heavy environmental impact; leather production is closely related to the production of the meat; leather is not, as is often believed, a by-product’, says Massimiliana Delù, founder of NOAH Italian Vegan Shoes.
All leather is tanned in order to interrupt the biodegradation of the animal’s skin. According to some sources, leather shoes take at least 50 years to decompose, while today’s nylon trainers will still be around in up to 200 years.
In addition to preventing decomposition, leather tanning requires chemical products. The most harmful is chromium, which is toxic to humans. ‘The sole of your foot is very permeable’, Massimiliana tells us. ‘If you rub a cut clove of garlic on it, within seconds the rest of your skin will smell of garlic. Everything that comes into contact with the skin on our feet is absorbed very quickly by our body.’
Click here to find out why NOAH organic shoes are a My Green Pod Hero
To mark its 10th birthday, NOAH has launched a range of biodegradable vegan shoes with organic linen and cotton uppers and natural rubber soles. The insole is made from Tencel, cotton, kenaf and natural latex.
‘Cotton, linen, Tencel and kenaf take only a few months to biodegrade’, Massimiliana explains. ‘Natural rubber takes a little longer. Composting is possible, though it takes quite a long time due to the lack of UV exposure. Adding UV light destroys natural latex quite efficiently within a few years.’
The materials are all quite sturdy, Massimiliana reassures us. ‘They can last for several years – though it’s important to avoid walking on surfaces wet with petrol or other aggressive solutions, as natural rubber does not like them.’
While Massimiliana agrees that recycling and sharing is important, she warns that shoes take on the shape of the feet and can influence – possibly negatively – the posture of the second person who wears them.
Thankfully, there are now lots of ethical possibilities when it comes to clothes and shoes, so everyone can decide what fits best for them.