Every athlete and outdoor enthusiast I know is crazy about the environment and wants to do their bit to preserve our natural resources. So it strikes me as rather ironic that nearly all the shoes we wear while out on the trail are made out of synthetic fibres derived from oil. UK-based shoe manufacturer Vivobarefoot is determined to change all that. In keeping with their “green” ethos, the company’s latest amphibious adventure shoe, the Ultra III, is instead manufactured out of a durable, eco-friendly foam derived from algae.
Algal blooms cause absolute havoc to freshwater and marine environments the world over. And, with our country’s lax attitude towards water management, it’s a particularly big problem here at home. Chemical wastes containing phosphorous and nitrates, often found in fertilisers, are continually seeping into our waterways – creating conditions that trigger out-of-control algae growth. Just visit Hartbeespoort Dam during a bad outbreak, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
The algae might be happy, but nobody else is. It depletes oxygen levels in the water and blocks sunlight – the two vital ingredients needed for healthy aquatic
ecosystems to thrive. And the toxins released are harmful to both man and beast. If left unchecked, this rampant growth can lead to the mass deaths of local wildlife (especially birds and fish), the pollution of our drinking water and even the air we breath.
Driven to find a more environmentally-friendly manufacturing process for their shoes, Vivobarefoot teamed up with Bloom – a Mississippi-based company who proudly define themselves as “the world’s first plant-based, high-performance solution to synthetic and petroleum-based foams”.
Bloom’s uber-eco product, marketed as Bloom Foam, is manufactured from harvested algae that would have otherwise been left to clog up our rivers and streams. The biomass is first dewatered and dried, then polymerised into pellets before being combined with other compounds to create a soft, pliable foam. Depending on the formulation and intended application, the algae makes up anywhere between 15 to 60 percent of the finished product – which is said to be similar in quality to traditional petroleum-derived foam.
By removing the algae from aquatic systems and replacing the ecologically harmful petro-based materials used for so many modern products, Bloom is tackling this nasty environmental scourge head on. Better still, being highly flexible and lightweight, their product is the perfect material for an amphibious adventure shoe like the Ultra III.
According to Vivobarefoot’s press release, every pair of shoes the company manufactures using this process helps return 261 litres of clean water back into the environment and prevents the equivalent of 40 balloons full of CO2 from being released into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Vivobarefoot’s new “green” Ultra III amphibious adventure shoe is expected to go on sale in July via the company’s website. – (c) 2017 NavWorld