March 30, 2023
I definitely would not say that we are a sustainable business. I would say that as a business we have sustainability at the front of our minds in every decision that we make and that we are passionate about creating a product that is much better for our planet. Our aim is to make a product that is 100% bio-based and will break down, leaving no harmful chemicals in the soil, but we are not there yet.
To be truly a sustainable business we need to go beyond the products that we make and how we deal with them at the end of life. We also need to ensure that we have transparency around our supply chain and an accurate understanding of the working conditions, pay and hours of the workers that make our products. We need to ensure that everyone involved in making our shoes earns a living wage.
One of Bared’s Brand values is “Think Planet – little and big decisions that we make today will affect our future. Let’s make sure that we are making the right ones”. We see our entire team as part of the solution. We empower our team to question everything we do and pull each other up on the little things. As a brand we do all the obvious and easy things like plastic free packaging, compostable postage satchels, FSC-certified recycled boxes, waste management and energy monitoring in our factories and in our stores and warehouse.
Whilst we completely understand that offsetting our carbon is not the solution, we also understand that it is an important step in combating climate change. Over the past two years, we have committed $95,000 to Greenfleet to help us to offset our carbon emissions. Greenfleet is an Australian not-for-profit business that plants biodiverse native forests that they guarantee for 100 years.
These initiatives are a step in the right direction but we know that our biggest impact will come from improving the materials that we use to make our shoes. The challenge with footwear is that there are so many components that make up a good shoe and trying to make a shoe that is bio-based and at the same time incredibly durable.
The initiatives that I am most excited about are our partnership with Natural Fibre Welding and the introduction of two of their 100% bio-based materials. The first in our new outsole PliantTM that is made from natural rubber and cured with a plant based curative instead of petrochemicals. We are hoping to use Pliant as all of our outsoles by mid 2024. The second is our new upper material MirumTM that is a leather alternative that is 100% plastic-free.
I am also incredibly proud of our B.PlantfoamTM footbed. For the past 15 years, every Bared shoe comes with our unique biomechanical footbed. Until recently our footbed has been made from polyurethane, which is a petroleum based material. In 2021, we introduced our B.PlantfoamTM footbed made by Evoco that is 72% bio-based and produces 70% less carbon emissions during the manufacturing process than polyurethane. Evoco is hoping to increase the percentage of bio-content to over 95% within the near future.
I love working with the incredible material innovators that are the brains behind these new materials. The teams inside businesses like Natural Fibre Welding®, Evoco and Silk Lab® (part of Tufts University in Boston) are helping to bring to life real solutions for a better, plastic and petroleum-free future.
I feel that our biggest challenge and frustration is the time that it takes to test and implement new materials. We are in a race against time for the world to reduce our carbon emissions and stop producing plastics.
I am really jealous of Unless and the launch of their new shoe that they have made in collaboration with NFW. Their new ‘Degenerate’ sneaker is truly inspirational and we are so excited to be using these same materials in the near future.
I am really impressed by Good Earth Cotton® and their work to create farming techniques and practices that enhance the ability for soil to sequester more carbon than the entire cotton growth lifecycle emits, creating climate positive cotton.
I am really impressed with M.J. Bale’s initiatives in tackling climate change. Their proactive approach in conducting trials with Merino ewes in which they are fed a seaweed that has been shown to reduce the methane production of sheep and therefore decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
Given that livestock contribute approximately 10% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions, finding a new way to produce this sustainable and biodegradable natural fibre at the farm level with close to zero greenhouse gas emissions is exciting.
I would just encourage other brands to get going. The more of us asking for and willing to trial and pay for these new materials, the more options we will have and the more readily available and affordable they will become.
If this inspired you to make considered fashion choices, check out Bared.
Or if you're a business that's interested in finding out more about joining the Green Economy, get in touch today.