One company that continues to inspire on a global level is Cariuma, a street shoe brand that calls the biodiverse country of Brazil home. After working together in the luxury footwear industry, Cariuma co-founders, David Python and Fernando Porto decided they wanted to create something exciting, innovative, and above all, sustainable. Founded in 2018, Cariuma has already left a mark on the athletic shoe industry, not by having the trendiest shoes, but by having a sustainable product with timeless appeal.
Python and Porto spent two years in ideation before launching the company, using $1 million in funding to source sustainable materials. They wanted to create their own processes of reducing waste by using recycled materials with less energy expended. Cariuma shoes are made of eco-friendly materials, from self-regenerating bamboo to sugarcane, organic mamona oil and organic GOTS-certified cotton. Cariuma also uses recycled plastic bottles to create the laces, labels, threads, and packaging, which are certified by Global Recycled Standard. During the processing and production of materials, a lot of the leftover materials and water used are recycled.
While their innovative shoe process cuts out the waste, Python and Porto did not want to cut back on style. They believe sneakers should be good-looking and timeless, which is why they worked to perfect a collection of designs that would have widespread appeal around the world. The only true answer to sustainability, according to the team, is buying quality over quantity, which means investing in shoes that will last a long time. Unlike other shoe trends that go in and out of style within the course of a few months, Cariuma sneakers are classic, crazy comfy, and hardwearing.
Sustainability is not just about the land, however, it’s also about the people. Cariuma works only with ethical factories who ensure fair labor practices and wages for all employees. The Cariuma team maintains an open and transparent dialogue with the public as well, constantly asking for honest feedback to make their shoes better for all.
Beyond the creation of their uniquely sustainable sneakers, Cariuma also does their part to give back to the environment and in the process, get closer to net carbon neutrality. For every pair of shoes purchased, Cariuma plants two trees through their reforestation projects in Brazil. Like all photosynthetic plants, the new trees that are planted absorb some of the overabundance of carbon in the atmosphere and release precious oxygen. Purchasing a pair of Cariuma sneakers is a small step in living a more sustainable lifestyle.
On a global scale, the fashion industry is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions each year, and it is companies like Cariuma that are tirelessly working to reduce that statistic. In addition to the production of sustainable sneakers, there are also clothing companies making changes like using recycled materials, reworking vintage pieces, and using deadstock fabrics. Here are a few of the changes that have been made in the fashion industry and beyond.
Without a doubt, the best way to reduce the production of new clothing is to wear clothes that have already been created. Vintage clothing has always been appreciated by the fashion crowd, but until lately, it wasn’t considered a mainstream way of shopping. Luckily, this is changing as vintage tees and designer bags are becoming just as sought after as new ones. Wearing vintage clothing not only extends the life of a garment, but also makes a fashion statement that no one else can replicate.
Fast fashion, or fashion brands that churn out cheap quality clothing that is sold at next-to-nothing prices is one of the worst culprits in the fashion industry for producing waste. Don’t fall into the trap of a low price tag -- we can assure you that you won’t be able to wear that garment for long. If it doesn’t fall apart after a few times in the washing machine, then it’s likely that the trendy style will no longer be fashionable by next season. When shopping for clothing or shoes, it’s essential to look for high-quality pieces that can be worn many times. You should think of your wardrobe as a place for investment; choosing, as the Cariuma’s co-founders said, quality over quantity.
Recycling, whether in the fashion industry with product materials and packaging, or closer to home with the everyday recycling of paper, plastic, and glass containers has a monumental impact on conserving the planet’s natural resources. Here are a few reasons why recycling is vital to the environment. Recycling materials to create products uses less energy than producing brand new products from raw materials. With less energy expended through production, recycling reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions, which are released into the atmosphere during the production of goods.
18 percent of global warming emissions around the world are attributable to the livestock industry, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The raising of livestock depletes the land, contributes to a loss in biodiversity, and is often a cause of deforestation. It also requires a lot of water, around 15,000 litres to produce one kilogram of beef as well as an enormous amount of grain.
Besides cutting back on the meat you eat, you can also cut down on the animal byproducts of the livestock industry through the clothing you wear. Many fashion companies are creating vegan alternatives to leather, suede, and fur that are ethical and better for the environment. These might be made of recycled rubber, apples, pineapple, bamboo, leaves, and more. Cariuma makes vegan sneakers with insoles made of cork and organic mamona oil.
It’s not just about what the big fashion brands are doing, it’s about your participation, too. We all have a role to play -- from home, from our office desk, and from the stores as we strive to shop sustainably. If you want to take action today, consider the following tips.
When you are shopping for a product, it’s important to check out more than just their popularity and branding. A company might claim to be eco-friendly, but they need to back up that claim as that could mean any number of things. To verify their claim about organic materials or ethical factories, check to see what certifications they have. Here are some of the large organizations you can trust for certifying sustainability.
Truthfully, there are endless changes we can make on a daily basis to lead more sustainable lives. It’s not plausible to think that everyone can make all the changes, but if we each try to implement a few, the result will be monumental as we work to fight climate change.
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