This Friday is Earth Day, a national movement that began in 1970. It was Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin, who first proposed the day. The objective, he cited, was to thrust the issue of environmental quality and resources conservation into the political dialogue of the nation.
Over the years, the footwear industry — both here and abroad — has been doing its part to protect the planet through manufacturing processes and packaging that are mindful of the environment. Some companies even donate part of their revenues to organizations that plant trees around the world.
Earth Brands is among those helping protect natural resources. In addition to using only water-based adhesives and vegetable tanning leathers, the company has partnered with Trees for the Future, a nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees with rural communities in 30 countries. Last year, Earth Brands funded the planting of 50,000 trees and is on board to do the same this year. Jambu is also committed to reforestation through its work with American Forests, whereby it has committed to planting 50,000 trees this year, a natural tie-in for the outdoor-inspired footwear brand.
Spanish brand El Naturalista is doing its share to preserve the environment through its production processes. The company has implemented initiatives aimed at counteracting the effects of climate change that include energy savings and rationalized water use.
In Ethiopia, soleRebels is focused on recycling initiatives by making use of used tires that would otherwise wind up in landfills for its outsoles. In Indonesia, Indosole intercepts tires before they get to landfills or are burned, then turns them into outsoles for footwear produced locally.
This fall, Canada-based Sole, which produced insoles and sandals, is joining the movement with its new District collection that uses recycled cork for its anatomically designed footbeds and midsoles. The collection is part of the company’s ReCORK program, which collects post-industrial and post-consumer natural corks and recycles them into a range of environmentally friendly products. So far, the company has collected about 80 million corks. The series of men’s and women’s styles includes a variety of dress-casual styles, including chukka boots to oxfords, retailing for $100 to $200.