Lots of shoe brands have been coming out with new lines of sneakers made of sustainable sources, but the problem is that many of these brands are huge corporations whose practices are unsustainable overall and who have put out eco-friendly shoes in an attempt to win over the public. Another problem is that even if these shoes are sustainable, that doesn’t guarantee that the people making them are being treated fairly.
For this reason, Fernando Porto left his job at a large clothing brand to explore the idea of making shoes differently. Flash forward two years later, and his Brazilian brand, Cariuma, has released a new shoe called the Ibi, which is effectively a carbon-neutral shoe.
Its upper part is knitted from a blend of bamboo and recycled plastic. The company developed a new way to work with bamboo, which is typically turned into fiber through a harsh process that involves dissolving the treelike material with a toxic chemical that can endanger workers and pollute the environment near the factory. Cariuma’s process instead heats up the bamboo to turn it into powdered charcoal. Mixing that powder with recycled PET plastic makes it possible to create a yarn that can be used to make the shoes.
As the bamboo grows, it sequesters carbon, making it carbon neutral as a material. When bamboo is harvested, it doesn’t kill the plant, which continues to grow and sequester more carbon. As for the foam in the sole, it’s made from sugarcane instead of petrochemicals. And for all the emissions that come with transporting the shoes and manufacturing them, Cariuma buys carbon offsets through projects including protecting part of the Amazon rainforest.
Overall, when compared to the 30 pounds of CO2 emissions that come from a typical pair of sneakers, the Ibi are some of the cleanest sneakers around.