Sustainable Footwear?

I’ve been looking into “sustainability” when it comes to footwear design & production and more specifically looking at the cradle to cradle system vs cradle to grave that most production is based on.
how do you guys see C2C design in footwear? How about disassembly for ease of recycling? What about materials?
In my somewhat limited experience, there really hasn’t been a major shift yet in philosophies of the footwear industry. Yes suppliers have introduced “environmentally-friendly” meshes, etc…, but the way I see it, it’s mostly fluff - anything to give a semblance of eco friendliness to a brand.
How do you guys see EF changing the business?
do you guys know of any good resources for research specific to the footwear industry?

you can pretty much unweave the components on this one:

the whole nike considered is great, but where i see the disconnect and that’s in general, is how do you translate it to mass-market (where is will make the most difference by sheer volume)?

Well, now you are changing the parameters of your question, and quickly too.

In my opinion I would guess that level of sustainability is very difficult to do in a high performance product at a price-point in large quantity at this time. Not to mention the aesthetic this construction creates is niche at best.

i thought i’d left the parameters wide enough for discussion on the whole market spectrum…

then how do you tackle sustainability as a niche, when it should be the norm? do you push the aesthetic through advertising and endorsement (the prius comes to mind - that car is UGLY imo) and/or do you try and encourage the likes of Wal-Mart to invest and spend more now for recyclable materials and “Design for Disassembly” in the prospect of offsetting their material cost in the future? If so how, when a company such as WM is renowned for pressing their supplies to the brink…

I read the orig question as looking for anything more C2C vs C2G… the second post seems to redirect that toward mass produced.

I think it comes down to technology and making cool sh!t where it makes sense to. Take the Tesla for example. It’s a cool electric car. Or the Toyota FT-HS (Future-Hybrid Supra?). Both are cool, performance eco machines, but the eco technology helps them to be higher performance. In this case a direct drive electric motor is simply faster than a conventional combustion engine mated to a transmission. It always has been, for 100 years. There was just no way to power it with current battery technology (the GM EV-1 was fast). The hybrid set up allows the bats to constantly charge, doubling milage, while increasing performance…

In that example they went hand in hand. I would get a hybrid sports car in a second. It would be more fun to drive, the eco thing is a plus. I think that is the way to tap the mass market, give people what they want they are buying anyway, while making it more environmental. All those things that aren’t visible: solvent reduced synthetics, water based glues, green rubber compounds, bamboo linings… they do make a big difference.

I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but I’ve been curious about one thing and it’s related to the environmental aspect of the conversation.

From what I understand, leather can be an environmentally unfriendly material due to the chemicals involved in the tanning processes (among other things).

Can some footwear superstar out there tell me how synthetic materials such as Durabuck stack up against leathers from an environmental standpoint? What are the factors that would make it better/worse?

I think that veg tanned leathers are better for the environment but the debate also needs to consider the geographical location of materails to manufacture. If you buy your leather from a UK tannery but manufacture in China you have to consider other factors.

There is a brand called Terraplana who i think have an eco range and would be worth talking to them, they did win an environment award!!!

There are vegi tan leathers and solvent reduced synthetics…

One of the issues with leathers is time and process. With chromed leathers (historically more environmentally un-friendly) they have the advantage of being resistant to heat which is used extensively in manufacturing and being much quicker to produce. Veg-tan leather is environmentally friendlier, but takes time to produce, doesn’t agree with heat processes that speed up the shoe-making process, but is very mold-able.

Here in Chicago is a tannery that produces vegetable re-tanned leather that should yield the working advantages of both. I do not know the environmental impact of these except that I have been told that they are very stringent with waste disposal requirements.