Like my (ethical, fairtrade, biodegradable) shoes?

Filed in Blog, Product reviews by on March 23, 2010 10 Comments
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Ethletic fully biodegradable shoes!

Ethletic fully biodegradable shoes!

We used to have a bit of a standing joke when Little Miss Green was littler than she is now about shoes. Once she could totter around and we used to take photographs of her, one of her feet was always sticking out to the side as if she were bringing attention to it. We always called them her ‘Like my shoes?’ shots.

Well now we’re all proud to be poking our toes out to the side once more because we’ve found the most amazing shoes from Ethletic.

Not only are they bright and colourful (enough to make any girl smile on a grey, English day), not only are they fairtrade, not only are they certified by the FSc, but they are biodegradable too!

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? And I have to say, these shoes are amazing. I confess I am a shoe snob; I don’t have many pairs, but I usually buy Birkenstocks and I was a bit wary of enveloping my tootsies in anything less than the footbed I was used to. A few week on, however and my feet and I are happy.

A rainbow of colours

Little Miss Green loves her sporty red numbers and I even managed to pull Mr Green out of his usual wardrobe repertoire of black, grey and navy by convincing him that orange would be a good idea. Needless to say there was no competition for my chosen colour; I’m a pink gal all the way.

So what makes Ethletic shoes such a number one for a zero waste shopper? Well after they are no good (which I can’t ever actually imagine happens, but Mr G is particularly hard on shoes) you can leave them in the sun to biodegrade.

Fairtrade and biodegradable

The uppers and laces are made from 100% fairtrade cotton; so will eventually rot away. The soles are the most exciting part – they are made from 100% natural latex rubber.

I spent a happy half hour on the phone to Paul Moore, the Marketing Director who told me all about these funky soles. I had it in my mind that rubber was no good for landfill. If you take into account all the car tyres lying around our local forest which have been dumped, I know for a fact they are there for ever, so why are rubber soles a good thing. When I was told that these shoes would biodegrade or even compost I was intrigued, if not a little sceptical.

All rubber is not equal

Paul told me that in order to make the soles, liquid latex is vulcanised with sulphur and heated. He told me that if car tyres were made in this way, they would eventually degrade after use too! The trouble is, car tyres don’t have much rubber content at all – the latex is the expensive part. Tyre manufacturers (apart from Formula 1 and aircraft manufacturers) use lots of EVA and other polythene products that last for years in the environment.

So there you have it, the reason most ‘rubber’ products, such as balloons, rubber bands and rubber gloves don’t degrade is because, well, they’re not rubber.

Natural latex

Ethletic shoes on the other foot hand are made from pure latex which means they will eventually become stiff, dry out and crumble into component latex parts.

Ethletic shoes are available in three designs – low cut sneaker, high cut sneaker and flip flops and can be purchased direct from the Fair Deal Trading website. Just don’t fall asleep in the greenhouse wearing them or you might end up like Cinderella.

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (10)

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  1. Alea says:

    I love these shoes! I am planning on trying them the next time I need a pair.

  2. Brenda says:

    I think I will get my daughter a pair of these, she would love the colours and they look so comfy!

  3. John Costigane says:

    Biodegradable is a tarnished word since much of the plastic types have proven to be false dawns with promoters more interested in profits rather than full lifecycle analysis of the materials. Natural products are better but composting of rubber should be investigated by enthusiasts to check the actuality.

    My interest is to see rubber stoppers which did the job magnificently in the past compared to the plastic tat used nowadays. Things are supposed to improve with time but the use of plastic in some instance has shown the reality to be quite different.

  4. Do they sell these in the US? I checked their website but it doesnt show us dollars. ??

  5. magdalena says:

    They remind me of the keds and converse shoes we wore as children, and as I recall, if we lost a shoe somehow and didn’t find it until the end of summer, they were pretty far gone. So this is like an old product revived. The all-black ones would even work for me! Maybe if someone would check to see if they take paypal, then it won’t matter what currency they charge in. (And I remember my old keds, forty-some years ago, costing about $2 a pair, not the $50+ these are! Oh, my, inflation…)

  6. sandy says:

    that’s not fair, I love those shoes, but I can’t buy them for another 11 month’s and two week lol

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @surviving and thriving on pennies: I’ll find out and let you know …

  8. I think natural latex for shoe soles is such a great idea. Hard wearing to last until this shoe is no longer useful and can then biodegrade. It is also great to see that sustainable shoes can look so good.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @Po-Zu Ecological Shoes: Hi there, I came across your website this week as well and you are doing some great things in your line of shoes – well done and thank you for making a difference 🙂

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