Tags >> Recycle
Oct 15, 2010

Yoga Mat Flip-FlopThe core of making a flip-flop hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. The materials and design have been updated, but flip-flops are still for the most part made in the exact same way as they have been for a long time. Rightfully so, since the flip-flop is pretty much the most basic type of footwear in existence!

Flip-flops were one of the first types of footwear that innovators began experimenting with, flip-flops made from recycled automobile tires, flip-flops made from old carpet, and now flip-flops made from repurposed yoga mats!

Sep 21, 2010

Green America Approved BusinessLast week we at Common Soles learned that we have been accepted as an official green business by Green America! This means that the Common Soles product, business practices, and processes we employ have been audited by the Green America research team to ensure they meet the established criteria to deem us a green business!

The auditing/screening process checks that we:

Aug 02, 2010

Laptop BatteryToday I received a new laptop battery – it’s pretty exciting for me because my current battery only holds a charge for about 5 minutes.  So now I’m back humming 100% with this new battery and able to go about my day in my usual un-tethered manner! But what remains of this re-battery process is my old battery. Pretty much a useless item to me, so what do I do with this item which clearly has some toxic components inside of it? Dell did not provide any instruction for what to do. Ahh!!

So that’s my rant for the day – but it got us thinking about the afterlife of a Common Soles flip-flop. From the beginning we always told customers that they could return their old and worn out Common Soles to us, but since we’re only about a year old it just really hasn’t come up yet. So here it is – official now because it’s being written on our website which in 2010 terms means it might as well be the 10 Commandments.

Jun 16, 2010

Timbuk2 shipping bagMany brands have gotten quite creative with their packaging, offering innovative eco-friendly packaging instead of the classic cardboard box. A few of our favorites are from Timbuk2 and PACT. Timbuk2 has taken it to a whole new level by printing a map of the city of San Francisco on the outside of the plastic bag they ship their bags in. The map is dubbed “a waterproof San Francisco bike map”. Sweet! It’s amazingly detailed, and even has some of the companies favorite points of interest marked off on the map. We applaud this move as it gives a simple shipping bag a useful afterlife.

PACT has gone the full eco-route with their packaging. Claiming that you can toss the packaging in the dirt and it will completely decompose, label and all in less than 45 days. Cool!

PACT packaging

We are a bit more basic here at Common Soles. Typically using the Priority Mail boxes provided to us by the US Postal Service. The boxes are made from post-consumer paperboard so they aren’t all bad! We also use the Tyvek envelopes from the USPS. Tyvek is a product of the DuPont Company, and is a brand of spun high-density polyethylene fibers, a synthetic material. So boo on us… DuPont does offer a recycling program for those of you interested in a proper afterlife of your used Tyvek envelope. More info on that here.  
USPS Priority Shipping Supplies

May 24, 2010
Server FarmRao and I strongly believe that all businesses need to incorporate the consideration of environmental health into their business strategy and practices. We have made it a core tenant of the Common Soles business model from the beginning. Since making it public that we were going to be an environmentally conscious business we have made some significant headway. On a product side we have incorporated re-purposed materials into all our flip-flops. Components made from coconut shells and natural woven jute are prime examples. We also do not leverage heavy machinery in our manufacturing. All assembly is done by hand in the factories that make Common Soles. Cool!
Our day-to-day business practices are also an area we have brought in the green perspective. We print very little paper in our office, relying on electronic files for just about everything. We keep the windows open, and rely on natural light as much as possible. In fact, the only items using electricity at Common Soles this moment (4:14pm) are two laptops, a label printer, and a phone. Not much at all! But that is only part of the picture…
The truth of it all is that being a green business is kind of a complicated prospect. Being truly green would require us to not consume any resources at all. In the same time we would somehow be improving the environment all while still being a business and generating positive cash flow from operations.  Yah – that’s a challenge. Greening your business is tough. Just sending an email consumes resources, according to McAfee, email consumes an enormous amount of resource. Recently McAfee released a report called “The Carbon Footprint of Spam”. Some key findings were:
  • In 2008, 62 trillion spam emails were sent (wow!)
  • Spam emails used 33 billion kW/h in 2008 in order to be processed (that is equivalent to the energy use in 2.4 million homes for a year, or it is equivalent to using 2 billion gallons of gasoline)
  • Spam filtering is equivalent to taking 13 million cars off of the roads; one spam email requires the same amount of energy as driving 3 feet (the annual volume of email spam requires enough energy to drive around the earth 1.6 million times)
The primary reason for such high numbers is a result of the enormous amount of electricity data servers consume. Server farms are no joke. These super-rooms are highly climate controlled warehouses stacked with electricity gobbling servers humming along 24/7/365.
So how does that all compare at the end of the day with sending just 1 email from 1 person to another? Well, the report states that an email produces about 9 grams of CO2 per. Compare that to the 20-25 grams of CO2 for a traditional piece of mail sent via the postal service and yes – you do have a “greener” solution. But is it really greener?? I don’t know about you, but I get WAY more emails then I ever did regular mail. So when you add up all those emails – net loss. Bummer…
So the reality of being a truly green business is a bit bleak. The intention of this blog post isn’t to bum you out – just to share some of our findings in building out and researching how to make our business a greener entity.
So please, have at it in making your work-place a greener environment. Because even if we all just do a little, it adds up to a number that actually makes an impact. Below are some resources you may find helpful – we did.

StartupNation.com A basic guide titled “9 Steps to Greening your Business” 

Fast Company Some best practices and ideas shared in an article: “50 Ways to Green Your Business”

Feb 03, 2010

EVA foam sheets for use in footwear manufacturingEVA, (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) is some incredibly versatile stuff. It’s the elasticized polymer foam material used in most footwear to add support, structure, and cushioning. It’s incredibly versatile as it can be molded, dyed, cut, and shaped into just about any configuration. It’s incredibly inexpensive compared to the other materials used in footwear such as leather or rubber, and it’s darn easy to get good at working with it!

But it’s not all roses for this wonder material.  EVA doesn’t break-down naturally and so it’s filling landfills across the globe with a product that doesn’t jive with nature. The manufacturing of EVA is a toxic process, and even though EVA scraps and used EVA can be recycled into new EVA – it’s not at all a green process.

Dec 24, 2009

Here is an update on some of the materials and construction techniques we hope to be working into our line moving forward. This post is also essentially Part 3 of a series I am writing on sustainable footwear here on our blog. Enjoy!

Rice RubberRice Rubber Outsole: This stuff is amazing. The outsole is the very bottom of footwear, the part that connects with the ground. Most traditional outsoles are made from rubber or PU (polyurethane). Rice Rubber is a blend of several happier ingredients. It’s a base of natural latex rubber mixed with SBR or Styrene Butadiene Rubber. SBR has been used for over 60 years in all sorts of applications such as tires, shoes, and gaskets. The blend is necessary for durability and longevity (Remember – durable footwear has a longer useful life = fewer pairs need to be manufactured). Rice husks which are a byproduct of the food industry and typically discarded after harvesting are then mixed in with the rubber. The rice husks displace a good portion of the rubber needed as well as add strength to the mixture. Similar to how gravel is added to cement to form concrete. The resulting product is not only a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional rubber soles, but it looks darn cool!


Oct 22, 2009

Rao and I have literally scowered India for all and any eco-friendly materials to integrate in our forthcoming styles of flip-flops and footwear.  We met with dozens of vendors selling product that comes from all over India and Asia. The bummer part is they all smiled when we asked for eco-friendly materials and kindly shook there heads.  hmmm...  what to do as we were not going to give up that easily!

It turns out there are quite a few eco-friendly materials that we could easily integrate into our footwear.  They just hadn't been branded that way so nobody knew it, not even the vendors selling the goods.  Here's a sampling of what we found and plan to integrate into our next few styles.

Jute:  Jute is a vegetable fiber that grows all over India. In fact India harvests more than 2 million tons of jute every year which puts them in the lead for tonnage harvested in the world with the next country not even at half that.  Jute is better known as Burlap here in the US, so now you all know what I'm talking about.  Jute is 100% biodegradable and recyclable which makes us happy!  Look for jute in our straps and soles in the future.

Paper: Paper pulp is used to make card-stock. We use card-stock for the hang-tags and hangers for our flip-flops. Apparently almost all the paper pulp processed in India is post-consumer which is something they completely fail to mention!  It may be that post-consumer is perceived as a negative quality wise for the paper producers, but we see it as a positive!

Coconut: You all know the coconut. India harvests more than 9 million tons of it a year putting it at third in the world. The shell of coconuts can be cut and polished to produce a variety of materials which can be used in making a flip-flop. Coconut fiber is also used in several varieties of textile such as the popular Cocona material often used in sportswear.

While we were in India we took samples of the above materials and came up with a few prototypes that used as many eco-friendly materials as possible.  Here are some pictures of that prototype. It has a woven jute sole impregnated with natural rubber for durability and traction, coconut beads and hardware on the strap, and a woven jute insole on the footbed. Let us know what you think!


Soles . . .

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