Eco-friendly algae-based shoes are hitting the market in July. VIVOBAREFOOT, a London-based footwear company, has partnered with BLOOM, a performance-based materials manufacturer in Mississippi, to create a lightweight adventure shoe that will clean the waterways and reduce the shoe industry’s carbon footprint.
The shoes are made from algae harvested from freshwater sources like lakes, rivers and pond around the world that are susceptible to algal blooms – aquatic formations that are dangerous to drinking water and wildlife.
After harvesting, BLOOM then mixes the algae with EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) to make a flexible, cushiony material.
The finished product consists of anywhere between 15-60 percent algae depending on the formulation and intended application, which is said to be similar in quality to traditional petroleum-derived foam.
The algae used to create these shoes is potentially destructive to the environment in its natural state. Chemical wastes that seep into our waterways create conditions that trigger out-of-control algae growth, which depletes the oxygen levels in the water and blocks sunlight – the two vital ingredients needed for a healthy aquatic ecosystem.
As a result, the toxins that are released can be harmful to humans and animals, leading to mass deaths of wildlife and pollution of our drinking water.
According to VIVOBAREFOOT’s blog, every pair of shoes the company manufactures using this process prevents the equivalent of 40 balloons full of CO2 from being released into the Earth’s atmosphere and helps recirculate 57 gallons of filtered water back into natural habitats
These amphibious shoes, the Ultra III, will be available for men only in July.
VIVOBAREFOOT was founded in 2012 by Galahad and Asher with innovation at the heart of their product. The company prides itself on its sustainability practices of using recycled, locally sourced materials in independently monitored factories.
“This is a true revolution for the footwear industry,” said Galahad Clark. “(We have used) the first plant based alternative to the petro-foams in ubiquitous use. We are thrilled to be the first company to use BLOOM in our shoes and further our mission to make the perfect shoe… perfect for feet and minimal impact on the planet.”
BLOOM, founded in 2015, offers the first sustainable alternative to the synthetic and petrochemical foams common in today’s market. They proudly define themselves as “the world’s first plant-based, high-performance solution to synthetic and petroleum-based foams”.
Excited about BLOOM’s Patented Algae Technology’s potential, Mike Van Drunen, CEO of BLOOM said, “Our goal is to deliver the most performance-driven materials in the most environmentally-responsible manner. It is a goal we constantly strive to improve upon, and we are excited to collaborate with VIVOBAREFOOT on the new Ultra line.”
VIVOBAREFOOT and BLOOM aren’t the first to make an eco-friendly shoe out of alternative materials. Adidas recently launched a new shoe made from plastic pulled out of the ocean. They also introduced running shoes made from Biosteel, which is said to be the strongest fully natural material available. Energy company NRG also made an eco-friendly shoe built almost entirely out of carbon dioxide emissions.
A host of other companies around the world are also creating plant-based fashions with materials such as kombucha, mushrooms, pineapples, corn, wine, and bananas in an effort to remove the use of animals from the fashion industry and help the environment.