Animal-free footwear on World Meat Free Day

In honour of World Meat Free Day, we present footwear made from animal-free materials.

There are many environmental problems associated with eating meat, from excess use of water to methane emissions. The same goes for leather, a popular material in footwear, as animals have to be bred for this purpose as well. Below, we have listed some footwear made from innovative, leather-free materials.

The Czech company Bohempia produces footwear, apparel and linen made from hemp. As a material, hemp has a lot of advantages. It is the strongest natural fibre, requires 50 per cent less water and 95 per cent less chemicals than cotton, does less damage to the soil and has a higher yield than cotton production, and can be produced locally. In addition, hemp has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, which is very useful in footwear if you have smelly feet.

The shoes consist of hemp and a vulcanised rubber outsole, produced in the EU, and are PETA-approved vegan.

German footwear company Nat-2 developed rubber boots made with recycled corn. The rain boots are semi-transparent and are made with corn that cannot be used as food anymore. The corn material is made with a heat-intensive production process, creating a popcorn smell. The boots consist of about 15 per cent corn, the rest is rubber.

Nat-2 likes to experiment with uncommon materials. Earlier, they made shoes from stone, and even from fungi.

While not commercially available yet, it’s the objective of Algiknit, a US-based biomaterials innovation company, to create a running sneaker made from kelp yarn. Kelp is one of the fastest growing organisms on earth, even faster than bamboo. In addition, kelp both cleans the water and the air. Algiknit produces biopolymers from kelp, which is extruded in yarn for knitting. The aim is to use the yarn to produce knitted products, including knitted shoes with a bioresin sole.

Earlier, the company Vivobarefoot teamed up with Bloom, a company that uses algae biomass to make foam material, to make a barefoot shoe. Read more about this algae shoe here.

Other interesting materials
Sportswear company Adidas created shoes made from biodegradable synthetic spider silk, and ocean plastic. New-Zealand company Allbirds made shoes with eucalyptus wood. Zuzanna Gronowicz and Barbara Motylińska developed method to 3D print shoes with biodegradable filament and natural textiles. Energy companies NG and 10xBeta experimented with shoes made from CO2 emissions.

For more shoes at Materia, click here.

Photos: Bohempian / Nat-2 / Algiknit