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!