Today’s Solutions: January 19, 2022

While more running shoes made from recycled plastic bottles are hitting the market, a Dutch startup believes there’s a much greener way to produce shoes: starting with plants. 

According to Richard Rusling, cofounder of Zen Running Club, the problem with using recycled plastic in shoes is that once it becomes a part of the shoe, it can’t be easily recycled again. Rusling argues that recycling lengthens our dependence on plastic overall, which is why his startup focuses on making shoes from materials such as sugarcane and eucalyptus.

“As our major materials are made from managed sustainable sources, our ecosystem includes planting trees to specifically harvest and replant. This process can offset and even surpass the carbon footprint of transportation and the production of our materials,” Rusling says.

The outsole of the shoe is made from natural rubber, while the midsole is produced using a mix of sugarcane and algae bloom. When the shoe reaches the end of its life, it can simply degrade. And to make the Zen Running Club’s operations even more sustainable, the startup’s factory runs primarily on renewable energy.

Moving forward, the Dutch startup is scaling up for production and is taking preorders on Kickstarter.

Image source: Zen Running Club

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