Canadian footwear specialist SOLE has joined forces with recycled cork producer ReCORK in the US to launch a crowdsourcing campaign for the scheme. Both companies have worked closely together for the past four years during which time SOLE has used recycled cork in its products.

The next phase goes beyond simply offsetting the carbon footprint of shoe manufacture by taking more carbon out of the atmosphere than is generated.

The 30-day campaign aims to raise $150,000 through pledges to fund the moulds and first production run of the carbon-negative shoes.

According to SOLE founder and CEO Mike Baker, it is a challenging activity to undertake.

“We have completed an environmental assessment of our operational CO2 footprint from the initial cork collection to the production of the footwear. Added to the CO2 sink associated with our cork tree planting efforts, we have determined we are actually carbon-negative,” he said.

The campaign will fund two pieces of footwear, each design including a 100% recycled cork footbed that contours to the unique shape of a person’s foot, and a 100% recycled cork midsole. Neither contains any direct petroleum-based material inputs.

In just four years, ReCORK has collected over 45 million corks from a network of 1,800 partners including global businesses such as MGM and American Airlines.

ReCORK promotes natural cork, advocates the greater use of cork as an alternative to petroleum-based materials and aims to recycle some of the 1.3 billion corks consumed in the US each year.

Maxine Perella

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