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Eco Process Shoes Innovation

Eco Process Shoes Innovation

There is an ever-increasing demand for shoes manufactured with due consideration for sustainability as users seek footwear products that do not harm the environment during manufacturing, usage, and disposal. 

In addition, many users seek footwear products that align with the Fair Trade global movement. Fair Trade focuses on ensuring safe working conditions, fair wages, and empowering workers in developing countries.

Sustainable eco-process shoe innovation encompasses the product’s entire progression or ‘life cycle’. The process starts with selecting raw materials that are ecologically friendly and safe for consumption. 

What are Sustainable Shoes?

Sustainable shoes are footwear products manufactured and designed with a focus on minimal environmental impact and promoting ethical practices throughout their life cycle.

Image Credit: Equilibrio

Eco Process Shoes Innovation and Sustainable Shoe Production

Eco-manufacturing, also known as resource-efficient manufacturing, deals with the overall process of vetting and improving manufacturing resources. Getting eco-friendly manufacturing right requires a consideration of various aspects of the process.

Eco Process Shoes Innovation and Sustainable Shoe Production
Image Credit: Knittingindustry

Chemicals 

Manufacturers, Suppliers, and Third-Party Contractors are tasked with monitoring and limiting the use of restricted substances. They look for alternatives wherever possible such as environmentally friendly chemicals. These biodegradable substances do not affect the environment when manufactured, used, or disposed of.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Footwear can be designed to be easily maintained with environment-safe cleaners like water, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and baking soda. Sustainable shoes are easily polished with lemon juice, olive oil, or banana leaves. Safe raw materials that are easy to clean include recycled tires and plastic, bamboo, cork, organic cotton, and even pineapple. 

‘Green’ Freight and Carbon Neutral Shipping

Transporting footwear, raw materials, and finished products requires land, sea, or air delivery. Eco-friendly freight companies and organizations seek to achieve low-carbon transportation of footwear where safety, health, and people’s lives are prioritized. Groups like Local Governments for Sustainable Mobility (ICLEI) create sustainable urban centers using low-carbon freight. 

Carbon-neutral shipping is an important aspect of operations. This could involve partnering with logistics providers that offer carbon offset programs, supporting projects that reduce carbon emissions, or investing in renewable energy for transportation.

Examples Of Eco-Friendly Innovative Shoemaking Processes

The American Footwear Industry Business and Trade Association (FDRA) defines innovative shoemaking processes as the design, development, manufacturing, distributing, and selling of footwear while conserving energy and natural resources keeping environmental impact to a minimum. These processes are economically reliable and safe for employees, communities, and consumers.

The American footwear industry created the environmentally preferred materials (EPMs) list – a sustainability benchmark aiming to help manufacturers to reduce their company’s negative environmental impact. Using EPMs as a guide, manufacturers can source the sustainable materials they require. 

New Technologies In The Footwear Industry

The footwear industry is adapting its existing technologies to include Industry 4.0 technological infrastructure known as the Internet of Things (IoT). This is a network of physical objects and devices (‘things’) interconnected via the internet to collect and share data. IoT ‘things’ collect and exchange data through sensors, hardware, and applications.

Image Credit: Bluebite

Sustainable Manufacturing

Sustainable manufacturing is a business decision and strategy manufacturers use to avoid environmental damage, conserve energy, and bolster natural resources. Sustainable manufacturing prioritizes the care of employees’ work safety and communities’ well-being and safety. (Source.)

Life Green Shoes 4 All Project Promotes Sustainable Manufacturing

Life Green Shoes 4 All project is part of the European Climate Infrastructure. The project creates, develops, and disseminates a footwear manufacturing methodology called the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF). PEF guides manufacturers through eco-design, conservation, recycling, and manufacturing processes to manufacture low-carbon footprint products. 

The project’s Ecodesign Guide for the Footwear Industry [PDF] provides footwear companies with strategies to help reduce their manufacturing processes’ environmental footprints. 

The Three Aspects of Sustainable Manufacturing

Sustainability in manufacturing includes the conservation of existing resources, controlled usage of limited resources, and replacing environmentally destructive resources with alternative, safer ones. 

Aspects of Sustainable Manufacturing
Image Credit: tmshydraulics

Economic Impact

Sustainable manufacturing is economically beneficial because it bolsters an economy in which water and energy resources are protected, making them more accessible and cheaper. Transportation has also become more reliable and less expensive. And good working conditions protect the business from demands for wage increases.  

Economically, a healthy and safe environment adds to the well-being of employees, their families, and communities.

Society Impact

Social sustainability considers current societies while striving to improve systems that future societies will inherit regarding equitability, diversity, connectivity, and democratic freedoms.

People strive to feel safe and content wherever they are, typically in homes, places of work, and public areas. Additional areas of social importance are health (hospitals and clinics), education (day-care, schools, and tertiary institutions), and culture.

Environmental Impact

Manufacturing plants and factories have caused untold environmental damage over many years. Increasingly, manufacturers seek to reverse the process through conservation, rehabilitation, and applying principles and strategies of sustainable manufacturing.

Sustainable manufacturing strategies straddle the entire production cycle from sourcing materials to production, completion, delivery, and post-delivery. Additional strategies deal with the product’s end of life through recycling and upcycling. A healthy environment will benefit businesses that implement environmentally friendly, sustainable manufacturing.

Sustainability in The Footwear Industry

Most footwear products are currently made of polymer resin called polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and leather, which are not eco-friendly. Shoes are discarded and dumped in landfills, which may take years to decompose. 

Sustainability in The Footwear Industry
Image Credit: Techbullion

As the footwear industry turns toward sustainable manufacturing using natural materials, shoes appear based on recycled materials like plastic bottles, toxic algae, and old shoes that get recycled, repurposed, or upcycled.

The Footwear Industry’s Position on Climate Change

In February 2021, key stakeholders in the apparel and footwear industry met under the auspices of the UN Climate Change Commission. They discussed a strategic response to climate challenges that appeared in the Fashion Industry Charter. These challenges included the fashion industry’s mission to reach net-zero Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2050, keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees.

How Does The Production Of Ecological Shoes Work?

Ecological shoes are made of sustainable, biodegradable materials not based on, or created with, GMOs, pesticides, and unnatural – synthetic – fertilizers. In factories, the materials are treated with non-toxic substances that are not hazardous to living beings or the environment.

When production is complete, the shoes are packed and delivered according to carbon reduction policies and strategies. Suppliers of raw materials and delivery companies follow the same guidelines. Ecological shoes follow an environmentally conscious end-of-life process, where they are collected for recycling or repurposing.

What Are Some Of The Materials Eco-Friendly Shoes Made From

Sustainable shoes typically do not contain leather, wool, silk, or feathers. Instead, recycled materials like plastic bottles, ocean waste, and even algae, as well as natural fibers like mushrooms or pineapples, cork, and rubber, are used.

Merino wool, however, is considered to be a sustainable material due to its renewable resource, biodegradability, it’s natural and low-impact production, durability, and support of local economics.

Although considered among the sustainable materials, it is essential to ensure that the wool is sourced from responsibly managed and ethical farms. Animal welfare practices and certifications, such as the Responsible Wool Standards (RWS), provide further assurance regarding sourcing in this specific wool industry.

Natural plant-based fibers like hemp, coconut, cork, nettle, bamboo, linen, cotton, and rubber are also used. ‘Fake’ leather is made from fruit like pineapple, grape, mango, and apple. Fake leather is also made from cacti and even coffee!

7 Sustainable Eco Process Shoes And Sneakers

Eco-Friendly Vegan Shoes

Shoes that are made of vegan materials are eco-friendly and biodegradable. They are made from recycled materials, which makes them more durable than animal-derived shoe materials. Manufacturers faced a public demand for beauty without cruelty footwear by providing shoes not made of animal-derived materials. 

Eco-Friendly Vegan Shoes
Image Credit: Livekindly

It is worth noting that animal-derived products are also harmful and can have ecological impacts. Processing and producing these products affect the environment, contribute to water and air pollution, and generate a considerable amount of non-degradable waste. 

Eco-Friendly Pineapple Leaf Fiber Shoes 

Manufacturers use a leather alternative called Piñatex, made of cellulose fibers extracted from pineapple leaves and mixed with PLA, also known as bioplastic and petroleum-based resin. Piñatex is considered a sustainable substance because it is a by-product of the fruit industry. It is usually thrown away or burned but is now repurposed and used as an additional source of income. 

Eco-Friendly Pineapple Leaf Fiber Shoes 
Image Credit: vegoutmag

This ‘fake leather is soft, pliable, and can be produced in various thicknesses. It can also undergo treating, dyeing, and painting, offering various textures, including leather. Piñatex could also be as much as 50% cheaper than cow and calf hides. 

Eco-Friendly Recycled Plastic Bottles Shoes

A pair of shoes required 11 plastic bottles. The bottles are made with a polymer resin called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The bottles are shredded, melted down, and turned into a yarn that may be knit or woven into a fabric. 

Eco-Friendly Recycled Plastic Bottles Shoes
Image Credit: lifestyle.livemint

Recycling plastic into polymer yarns is eco-friendly; keeping plastic bottles out of landfills. This process assumes that people will throw their plastic bottles in the recycling bin rather than dumping them in their garbage bins. And shoe manufacturers rely on a supply of bottles from recycling bins. 

Recyclable materials and high-quality shoes can go hand in hand to promote sustainability and durability.

Echo-Friendly Upcycled Shoes

Footwear designer Helen Kirkum offers sneakers that have been upcycled from old shoes. As a designer, Kirkum is not interested in turning something into its equivalent but instead making it better while keeping a keen eye on the products eco-friendliness. 

Echo-Friendly Upcycled Shoes
Image Credit: shelflife

Kirkum hunts for old shoes in second-hand stores and flea markets. She disassembles and dismantles the shoes, sorts out the pieces, and reassembles them to create her “Handmade Bespoke Sneakers.” These collage-style, fully functional sneakers are unique and beautifully designed.

Nike’s Air Jordan 11 Uses Industry 4.0 Technology

Nike’s Jordan environmental strategy includes using eco-friendly materials, with some recycled to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in production and distribution. Its supply chain’s water reduction initiatives have been implemented, and it is on track to eliminating hazardous chemicals by 2025.

Nike’s Air Jordan 11 self-lacing shoe uses Industry 4.0 power lacing technology. Each shoe uses a battery-operated motor and a system of sensors and cables activated by body weight. The sensors automatically tighten the shoe’s upcycled plastic yarn to fit the shoe to the foot when one puts it on.

Adidas Turns Ocean Plastic Waste Into Shoes

In 2015, Adidas teamed up with Parley for the Oceans,- a nonprofit environmental organization created to protect the oceans and create a new line of sustainable, ocean-protecting footwear. The shoes are made with plastic waste collected from the beach while it is still set apart from the ocean. 

The shoes are based on a spun thread from ocean-sourced plastic waste. Adidas uses recycled plastic to 3D print the midsoles of the shoe. Starting with 1 million shoes in 2018 by 2021, the company sold 17 million Parleys in 2021.

Bloom Makes Shoes From Toxic Algae

Recycled plastic is not the only source of sustainable alternative materials. Algix has been harvesting toxic algae in lakes across the USA and using filtration technology to dry, grind, and compound the algae into pallets used by footwear brand manufacturers.

Bloom Makes Shoes From Toxic Algae
Image Credit: Nativeshoes

Footwear producers turn the pallets into flexible foam used in footwear production. The material known as Bloom has impressive sustainable properties. It offers a solution to the environmental menace of toxic algae that chokes water bodies. Bloom also provides alternatives to the environmentally unfriendly ethylene-vinyl acetate (ETA) made from toxic petrochemicals.

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The Relationship Between Futuristic Outfits and Eco-Friendly Shoes

Futuristic outfits and futuristic fashion often push the boundaries regarding design, incorporating cutting-edge technologies. Futuristic outfits and eco-process shoe innovation can merge together sustainable practices and innovative fashion to create forward-thinking and environmentally conscious ensembles.

Summary

The footwear industry reached a point of no return when industry analysts read through people’s publicly accessible comments on social media. They reported that consumers, particularly young shoppers, voiced public displeasure with footwear manufacturers. While they never stopped loving the products, customers felt uneasy about buying products manufactured under deplorable working conditions, using toxic, unsafe, and hazardous chemicals. 

Under this climate of protest and, sometimes, product rejection, footwear manufacturers embarked on strategies to reverse the process through conservation, rehabilitation, and applying sustainability principles and strategies.

Conclusion

“Track it, Trace it, Wear it!” Campaign.
Launching a global campaign to adopt the manufacturing and wearing of sustainable footwear, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Project created a Sustainability Pledge. This free, open-source platform tracks and traces products along the entire supply chain: from field to factory to shop floor. Companies can join the platform and share this information with other manufacturers. 

Several sustainable brands produce eco-friendly shoes that make the necessary efforts to promote ethical practices and limit their environmental impact. It is always best to research and examine different brands to find the ones that align with your preferences and values.

Before purchasing shoes and committing to a shoe brand, consumers can determine which companies have signed on to the Sustainability Pledge platform and what sustainability-promoting actions they have committed to.

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